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Civil Rights Groups Slam Sheriff Ahern for Endorsing Sessions as Attorney General

Sessions Opposed Voting Rights Act While Supporting Anti-Immigration Policies

By: Tulio Ospina – 24 March – Link to Oakland Post article

Local immigrant and civil rights groups are expressing outrage after learning that Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahernsigned a letter last year endorsing the highly controversial nomination of Jeff Sessions for US Attorney General.

During the nomination process in December and January, leaders across the country were alarmed by President Donald Trump’s selection to lead the Department of Justice.

As a US Senator, Sessions opposed the Voting Rights Act and has a history of making racist comments, including reportedly saying he thought the Ku Klux Klan was “okay until I found out they smoked pot.”

In a 1986 letter opposing Sessions’ federal judgeship application, Coretta Scott King wrote, “Mr. Sessions has used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly Black voters.”

“The irony of Mr. Sessions’ nomination is that, if confirmed, he will be given a life tenure for doing with a federal prosecution what the local sheriffs accomplished twenty years ago with clubs and cattle prods,” the letter continues.

“I believe his confirmation would have a devastating effect on not only the judicial system in Alabama, but also on the progress we have made toward fulfilling my husband’s dream.”

Sessions was not confirmed for the federal position over concerns about his history of racist comments.

Last year, several local leaders also spoke out against Sessions’ nomination for Attorney General due to his strict advocacy of anti-immigration policies and his opposition to legislation that provides a path to citizenship for immigrants.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee, whose district consists of Alameda County, condemned his confirmation, calling it “outrageous and appalling” and an indication that Trump will “lead a relentless assault against (civil rights) progress.”

While leaders and community members across the country denounced Sessions’ nomination, Sheriff Ahern co-signed the endorsement letter that was sent on behalf of the California State Sheriff’s Association (CSSA).

Ahern is a chairman of the organization’s Political Action Committee.

“It is clear from your service in the U.S. Senate that you place a high priority on upholding the rule of law, supporting our nation’s military and law enforcement, and requiring the utmost integrity of yourself and those that serve with you,” the letter from the CSSA states.

After the letter surfaced earlier this week, a coalition of local immigrant rights groups demanded that Ahern apologize for his endorsement and make necessary changes to his department’s policies to play no part in Trump’s agenda.

Alameda County United in Defense of Immigrant Rights (ACUDIR), which includes Causa Justa: Just Cause, ACCE and Mujeres Unidas y Activas, wrote, “Sheriff Ahern and the Sheriffs Association are, simply put, on the wrong side of history. They must … completely separate themselves from Trump’s cruel deportation machine – and his hateful ideology.”

ACUDIR also slammed the department’s opposition of the California Values Act (SB 54), a proposed bill that would limit state and local law enforcement’s compliance with federal immigration agents.

In an interview with the East Bay Express, Ahern said he did not personally sign the letter but that his signature was electronically added as it is routinely to all of the association’s letters, although he did vote to send the letter of support.

“We have to work with these people in the future. This builds a better relationship if we have a letter of support on file,” said Ahern.

Ahern told the Express that if the association disagrees with Sessions, the group would push back.

“If we opposed any type of actions or anything like that, we do author those types of letters too, and say we object to what’s going on,” he said.



Activists Protesting Deportations Arrested in SF

Kitzia Esteva, an organizer with Causa Justa::Just Cause, called the Mission a “hub” for Central American refugees and immigrants, a role she says it has played since the 1980s. At least two of those arrested at the protest work in the Mission.


Esteva said her organization has seen several Mission residents being taken into custody as a result of raids on Central American families and the Priority Enforcement Program, a federal initiative targeting undocumented immigrants with a criminal record.

“Those raids leave no space for rehabilitation or real needs, and treat people like they’re disposable,” she said.

Frank Lara, a teacher at Buena Vista Horace Mann in the Mission, said he has seen the effects of deportation efforts among his students. When word of a new wave of raids spread about two weeks ago, he said, parents stopped bringing their kids to school, and other children worried that their parents might be deported.

“It’s traumatizing,” he said.


Lara called today’s protest a success, and noted that the willingness to be arrested sends a message.

“We showed not only ICE, but the police, that we’re not afraid to voice our opinions and get arrested for it,” Lara said. “We are training a new generation of activists to speak up and take action.”


The 16 protesters who were later arrested seated themselves in the center of the two intersections, and had chained themselves together. Remaining protesters gathered around them, blocking traffic for several hours. Shortly after noon, some 30 police officers assembled, announced that the protest was unpermitted and that anyone who refused to get on the sidewalks away from the intersection would be arrested.

“I think it was important for us as to why the families that are coming and the minors that are coming are coming – not just because there’s violence in their country but because that violence was really created by the U.S. and the way that we intervened in Central America. Really, these families are owed reparations if nothing else,” Esteva said.


The protest was a coordinated effort between two cities, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Immigrant advocates around the state organized the rallies to demand that officials end the practice of deporting refugee families back into violent conflicts in their home countries and recognize asylum seekers as refugees.


Via Mission Local News:

Activists Protesting Deportations Arrested in SF