Will work for . . . work, in the City of Orange.
Will work for . . . work, in the City of Orange.
Photo by Beth Stirnaman

Polite Dinner Topic is "Racist City Ordinances" in Orange County

When last Clockwork Ernest Hemingwayed on the Potluck for Progressives, this scratch-resistant sidewinder told of how the kibosh had to be put on the Nov. 13 gathering because the scheduled speaker from the regrouping California Cannabis Initiative backed out.

At the time, event coordinator Duane Roberts disclosed the new Potluck for Progressives date would be Nov. 20--this Friday night--and that the topic would be "The Criminalization of Day Laborers in Orange County."

If Roberts' aim was to present a dinner debate that inflames (heh) less passion than legalizing the Devil's weed, he failed miserably. 

Not that he's losing sleep over that.

Addressing potlickers and -luckers will be a representative from Colectivo Tonantzin, a grassroots, Orange County-based group that defends the rights of undocumented workers from harassment and abuse by cops, cities and the Minutemen. As Gustavo Arellano just John Steinbecked a couple months ago ("Will Work for Jornaleros," Sept. 29):

The Colectivo, which numbers about 12 core members but counts dozens of supporters, was founded in 2004 by a group of progressive, mostly Chicano activists who had cut their radical teeth during the Taco Bell boycott campaign earlier this decade.


But in the past two years, the Colectivo has concentrated on fighting for the rights of day laborers in a county that has seen cities pass increasingly stringent ordinances against them. And few are more adamant about running jornaleros out of town than Orange, the Colectivo's new target.

In his piece, Gustavo looked at the scoreboard and noticed the Colectivo had already earned a key win against such municipal efforts.

When the Lake Forest City Council passed an anti-day-laborer resolution in 2007 that prohibited them from soliciting work nearly anywhere in the city, the Colectivo and local jornaleros contacted the Orange County chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The organization filed a lawsuit in federal court on their behalf, arguing such efforts were unconstitutional. Shortly thereafter, the council repealed the ordinance.

Of course, this being Orange County, and most Orange County politicians being intolerant or beholden to the intolerant, other municipalities ignore the ruling and continually brand those searching for work as modern day Frito Banditos--without the tasty snack treat part. This daily struggle is what the Colectivo rep will update his progressive amigos on.

"Come to this meeting to learn more about: how these racist and discriminatory city ordinances are used to criminalize efforts by day laborers to seek work; which local politicians are behind them; and what you personally can do to fight them," Roberts writes in an email to his fellow members.

The fun starts with the potluck at 6:30 p.m. followed by the speaker program an hour later and an open forum--where anything and everything is up for discussion--at 8:30 p.m. Potluck for Progressives, which is endorsed by the Social Justice Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Orange County, is held at the Anaheim church, which is at 511 S. Harbor Blvd. or the southwest corner of and Santa Ana Street. It's free and although a small donation may be sought to help cover costs, those who cannot pay will not be turned away. Visit UUChurchOC.org or phone (714) 758-1050 for more information.


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