A Los Angeles-based African-American “cultural action” organization is criticizing L.A. City Council members who support a boycott of Arizona over its controversial immigration law. (Updated after the jump with background on the group's leader).
Council members Janice Hahn and Ed Reyes introduced a motion that would cut city business ties with Arizona over the law, which allows police to ask people they stop for proof of legal immigration status in the United States. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he supports the motion.
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, founder and president of BOND (Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny) Action, believes that illegal immigrants take jobs from African-Americans, specifically in the “manufacturing, construction, and agriculture industries.”
(Update): Peterson, who has declared he's on the “Stop Obama's Socialist Change Speaking Tour” and is a frequent conservative black voice on Fox News, was discounted as an extremest by Michael Trujillo, spokesman for Hahn's campaign for California Lieutenant Governor. “We hear Rev. Peterson, but he's not part of the mainstream thought process on this,” Trujillo told the Weekly. “If anything he's part of the right wing extreme.”
Peterson, meanwhile, had this to say: “Mayor Villaraigosa and City Council members should follow Arizona's lead and address the Los Angeles illegal immigration crisis which is greatly contributing to the cities financial decline. Illegal immigration is having a negative impact on Los Angeles residents — especially black Americans, who are under siege and have to compete with illegals for basic health and education services.”
While blacks and Latinos often share political views in the higher echelons of Southern California leadership circles, the groups haven't always seen eye-to-eye when it comes to illegal immigration. Some South Los Angeles black activists, for example, have joined the controversial Minutemen group in its hard-line stance against illegal immigration.
And the Mid-City shooting death of Los Angeles High School football player Jamiel Shaw in March, 2008 sparked outrage among some African-Americans after it was revealed that the suspect in the case, a Latino gang member, was in the country illegally. It was also believed that Shaw was shot solely because he was black, although it was later revealed by LA Weekly that he expressed some affinity for a rival gang.
Shaw's father pushed for “Jamiel's Law,” an ordinance that would overturn the city rule prohibiting police from asking people about their immigration status.
“The Shaws are well-meaning, and public sympathy was with them,” black author and leader Earl Ofari Hutchinson told LA Weekly in 2008. “But race and politics have rammed their way into this debate with a vengeance. My fear is that this is pitting blacks against Latinos by people who know illegal immigration hits a sore nerve with African-Americans. And so they latched on to this and have made it part of their political agenda.”