For immediate release
August 27, 2003
Immigrant Rights Movement (MDI)
Immigrant Pride Day 2003 Organizing Committee
Contact: Carlos Petroni 415.452.9992
A meeting was convened yesterday, Tuesday August 26 by San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ President Matt Gonzalez. Attending were representatives from Supervisor Tom Ammiano’s office, Treasurer Susan Leal’s counsel, and MUNI, DPT and Fire Department representatives. The SFPD declined to send a representative. Carlos Petroni represented the Immigrant Pride Day Organizing Committee.
Supervisor Daly and former BOS President Angela Alioto apologized for not attending, but indicated their intention to support allowing the Immigrant Rights Movement (MDI) to organize the event as planned.
The meeting of August 26 was in preparation for a hearing to be held by the City Departments involved on Thursday, August 28 at 9 AM at 25 Van Ness Ave. to decide the fate of the requested permit.
The MDI and 50 other immigrant organizations want to hold their annual cultural and political event, Immigrant Pride Day, on Mission Street, between 24th and 25th streets on October 25, 2003. The event, which has been presented for the last seven years, mixes immigrant political and civil rights issues with cultural presentations, movies, and performances…
The Mission Station of the SFPD has objected to the Mission Street location for the event due to its cultural-political character. The Police Department wants the organizers to move the event away from the immigrant and Latino community, where it has always been held, to a neighborhood with a different constituency.
Also for the first time in seven years, DPT and other City departments are demanding from the organizers of the event a huge sum of money in lieu of “services” as if the event were not a First Amendment protected activity but a commercial street fair. Some observers believe that the clear objective is to force the organizers to cancel the event, due to some political objections of the SFPD.
During the meeting today, representatives of the DPT, MUNI and Fire Department insisted on cataloguing the event not as a political/cultural one but as a street fair. The basis for this determination is that the crowd will not be marching but will remain stationary for several hours and a stage will be built for performers and speakers.
When asked, the representatives indicated that the lack of marching was the difference between this event, for example, and an antiwar demonstration which is protected by the First Amendment. It was clear that the bureaucrats were trying to use the need of a permit for a stage for the speakers as an administrative objection to the political nature of the event. There is no difference, as far as the First Amendment is concerned, whether a crowd of participants remain at one location or march through the streets in a demonstration.
The event has the support of all the merchants and most of the neighbors. The organizers have received the support of Supervisors Daly, Gonzalez and Ammiano, Treasurer Leal, former BOS President Angela Alioto and hundreds of organizations and individuals for the event to occur at the place requested with either a waiver of the fees City departments want to charge or at least a reduction to a reasonable amount. The organizers do not rely on corporate donations or any other City or government subsidy.
The themes of this year’s Immigrant Pride Day include, as in all previous years, the demand for an immediate amnesty for undocumented immigrants and the protection of immigrants against the recent wave of infringement of their civil rights (i.e.: US Patriot Act).