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August 7, 2014 0

Legislative Prayer Ruling Does Not Permit Prayers by Local Lawmakers

In the recent Greece v. Gal­loway deci­sion, the U.S. Supreme Court expanded the types of open­ing prayers or invo­ca­tions that may be given at pub­lic meet­ings of leg­isla­tive bod­ies.  Accord­ing to the Court, clergy or com­mu­nity mem­bers can deliver sec­tar­ian prayers before munic­i­pal and county boards, coun­cils, and com­mis­sions.  How­ever, a fed­eral court in Vir­ginia has just deter­mined that the Greece deci­sion does not give carte blanche for invo­ca­tions by mem­bers of a Board of Super­vi­sors at pub­lic meetings.town-hall-image

Based on the Greece deci­sion, a super­vi­sor asked the court to revoke an order bar­ring sec­tar­ian prayers by Board mem­bers at pub­lic meet­ings.  Due to sig­nif­i­cant fac­tual dif­fer­ences between the Greece deci­sion and this case, Hud­son v. Pitt­syl­va­nia County, the court refused.

In his deci­sion, Judge Michael Urban­ski indi­cated that the Greece decision’s over­ar­ch­ing prin­ci­ple is that gov­ern­ment offi­cials “can­not dic­tate the con­tent of prayers offered at local gov­ern­ment meet­ings.” But that would be the exact result of revok­ing the order.  Unlike the Greece case, hav­ing super­vi­sors offer the invo­ca­tions would deny peo­ple of other faiths that oppor­tu­nity.  Also unlike Greece, super­vi­sors often direct cit­i­zens to par­tic­i­pate in prayers by ask­ing them to stand for invocations.

Based on these fac­tual dis­tinc­tions, the court appro­pri­ately con­cluded that “the active role of the … Board of Super­vi­sors in lead­ing the prayers, and, impor­tantly dic­tat­ing their con­tent, is of con­sti­tu­tional dimen­sion and falls out­side the prayer prac­tices approved in Town of Greece.”

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July 24, 2014 7

Small Protests Around the U.S. Ratchet Up Anti-Immigrant Rhetoric

On July 18 and 19, anti-immigrant activists around the coun­try par­tic­i­pated in a series of protests dubbed the “National Day Of Protest­ing Against Immi­gra­tion Reform/Amnesty & Bor­der Surge.” Activists are exploit­ing the cur­rent human­i­tar­ian cri­sis at the bor­der where Cen­tral Amer­i­can chil­dren are flee­ing in order to escape vio­lence in their home countries.

These protests are just the lat­est uptick in anti-immigrant activ­ity, fueled by the anti-immigrant move­ment and far-right media. The sparsely attended protests not only attracted extrem­ists, but many of the activists in atten­dance dis­played signs with extreme rhetoric.

The fol­low­ing is a round-up on some of the extreme rhetoric on dis­play at protests around the coun­try, as reflected in accounts of the ral­lies on social media and in local news outlets:

  • Moosic, Penn­syl­va­nia: Mem­bers of the white suprema­cist group Euro­pean Amer­i­can Action Coali­tion (EAAC) attended a rally in Moosic, Penn­syl­va­nia. EAAC direc­tor, Steve Smith, was present at the event. Smith is a long­time racist with ties to a num­ber of white suprema­cist orga­ni­za­tions. At the Moosic protest, was a sign taped to the over­pass where the protest took place which read, in part, “Ille­gal mes­ti­zos are bring­ing in lep­rosy and scabies…”eaac-protesters-immigration
  • Salem, Ore­gon: Mem­bers of the white suprema­cist polit­i­cal party Amer­i­can Free­dom Party (AFP) attended a rally in Salem, Ore­gon. AFP activist Tyler Cole attended the rally with his wife, Laura. In an inter­view with a local news sta­tion, Laura Cole stated, “Keep Mex­i­cans in Mex­ico. Keep European-Americans here, where we are, in our home­land… I think it’s OK for us to be proud that this is our ter­ri­tory.” A ban­ner hang­ing from an over­pass one exit away from the offi­cial Salem protest read, “Diver­sity is a code word for white geno­cide” – a phrase used by white supremacists.
  • New York, NY: Anti-immigrant activists protested out­side of the United Nations build­ing in New York City. One pro­tester held a sign imply­ing that “ille­gals” and “Obama” were “cock­roaches.” Another pro­tester yelled, “Bring us your small­pox, bring us your malaria, your scabies.”
  • Phoenix, Ari­zona : A pro­tester had a sign that read “ille­gals bring disease.”
  • Mari­etta, Geor­gia: A pro­tester held a sign stat­ing, “stop ille­gals and their diseases.”marietta-protest-immigration
  • New Haven, Con­necti­cut: A pro­tester on an over­pass held signs say­ing “stop ter­ror­ists cross­ing our bor­der” and “stop dis­eases cross­ing our border.”
  • Ocala, Florida: Pro­test­ers held signs claim­ing “Obama is a Mus­lim” and “ter­ror­ists and ille­gals treated bet­ter than vets.”
  • Yakima, Wash­ing­ton: A pro­tester held a sign say­ing, “cit­i­zens over ille­gals car­tel and jihadists.”yakima-protest-immigration
  • San Diego, Cal­i­for­nia: One pro­tester held a sign with the Mex­i­can flag which, read, in part, “yes, we sell humans, drugs, pros­ti­tu­tion, the demise of your country.”
  • Tuc­son, Ari­zona: A pro­tester inter­viewed by Tuc­son News Now asserted, “The inva­sion and occu­pa­tion of a sov­er­eign nation… is an act of war.”

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July 16, 2014 6

Anti-Immigrant Groups Plan National Protests Against Children Fleeing Violence

In response to the human­i­tar­ian cri­sis at the bor­der, which has seen an influx of chil­dren flee­ing vio­lence in Cen­tral Amer­ica, a num­ber of anti-immigrant activists and right-wing groups are plan­ning two national days of protest on July 18 and 19 against “immi­gra­tion reform amnesty and the bor­der surge.”protest-immigration

The flyer for the event fea­tures the same extreme anti-immigrant rhetoric seen recently at protests in Mur­ri­eta, Cal­i­for­nia and Vas­sar, Michi­gan. The flyer claims that “ille­gal aliens with com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases and con­di­tions such as tuber­cu­lo­sis, sca­bies and head lice are enter­ing our coun­try unabated.” It goes on to warn of a “very real secu­rity risk to Amer­i­cans from drug car­tels, gang mem­bers and terrorists.”

The orga­nizer of the pro­posed nation­wide events sched­uled for July 18 and 19 is Paul Arnold, an anti-immigrant activist and founder of the anti-immigrant group “Make Them Lis­ten.” Arnold is closely tied to the anti-immigrant front group Black Amer­i­can Lead­er­ship Alliance (BALA). He helped orga­nize BALA’s “March for Jobs” anti-immigrant rally in July 2013 which was attended by about 800 peo­ple. Arnold also helped to orga­nize anti-immigrant ral­lies in dif­fer­ent states in August 2013 as part of a BALA “tour.” Many of the pro­posed ral­lies were can­celled due to lack of par­tic­i­pants and the few that did take place were sparsely attended

The Face­book event page for this weekend’s planned   protests indi­cates that a num­ber of extreme anti-immigrant groups are allegedly plan­ning to par­tic­i­pate. For exam­ple, the South Carolina-based anti-immigrant group Amer­i­cans Have Had Enough Coali­tion (AHHEC) plans to hold a protest in the state this week­end. White suprema­cist Roan Garcia-Quintana is the exec­u­tive direc­tor of AHHEC and is also a direc­tor and “life­time mem­ber” of the white suprema­cist orga­ni­za­tion Coun­cil of Con­ser­v­a­tive Cit­i­zens.

Another group plan­ning to par­tic­i­pate in the protests this week­end is the North Carolina-based Amer­i­cans for Legal Immi­gra­tion PAC (ALI-PAC), essen­tially a one man oper­a­tion run by anti-immigrant extrem­ist William Gheen. Gheen has a long his­tory of anti-immigrant rhetoric. In his recent state­ments about the human­i­tar­ian cri­sis, for exam­ple, Gheen advo­cated send­ing “gen­tly used” under­wear to John Boehner and Pres­i­dent Obama in protest of the bor­der patrol’s plea for cit­i­zens to send new pairs of under­wear for the migrants flee­ing violence.

A num­ber of other very active anti-immigrant orga­ni­za­tions from around the coun­try includ­ing Min­nesotans Seek­ing Immi­gra­tion Reform (MINNSIR), New York­ers for Immi­gra­tion Con­trol and
Enforce­ment (NYICE) and Help Save Mary­land (HSM) are also sched­uled to par­tic­i­pate at ral­lies in their states. Though it is unlikely the protests will attract large num­bers, the anti-immigrant move­ment is cer­tainly using the human­i­tar­ian cri­sis at the bor­der to attempt to mobi­lize its base.

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