Last night, South Pasadenans were once again out in force to give comments on specific points in our Resolution of Diversity and offer suggestions to the committee and council on the resolution as well as Immigration policy 415, which deals specifically with law enforcement. On June 21, as reported here, City Council voted to further strengthen the Resolution of Diversity which was put into effect in December.
David Beadle gave an impassioned speech after first thanking Police Chief Art Miller, Fire Chief Paul Riddle and the members of the City Council for addressing the community’s concerns about creating policy on how our officials deal with Immigration and Customs Enforcement when they enter our city. Speaking forcefully about the 45th president’s policies and rhetoric, Beadle said, “We can’t remain silent, or feel powerless whilst the worst impulses of human nature, the worst Americans among us, run roughshod over common decency, compassion and the Constitution.”
Speaking on behalf of the South Pasadena chapter of Indivisible, Beadle said that acting locally to protect abuses of power is the first remedy to push back on such aggressive tactics that rip apart families and communities, and create distrust with local law enforcement, going on to say, “we believe Chief Miller to be a person of great integrity, and by extension our police department. But we have no idea what the future will bring, and we won’t always have Police Chief Miller leading the way. As John Adams said, “we are a nation of laws, not of men.” Our pursuit of a change in policy 415, and the drafting of a new ordinance to better guide our police department, city officials and workers, is designed to make permanent our core values which Chief Miller is already implementing.”
Anne Schermerhorn spoke as an immigrant reminding us that immigrants “are just here to work. The idea that they could be arrested simply because of the way they look or the way they talk is just wrong.”
Cynthia Liu raised concerns about protecting personal records at the city and school level to which councilmember Diana Mahmud said that the school board is responsible for dealing with school records. There are parallel discussions on this subject happening at the school board.
Recommendations were made for further clarifying certain aspects of the policy by several speakers including Gary Rowe, a lawyer and former constitutional law professor who, among other things, advocated for more specific language to avoid unintentionally working with ICE through loopholes in the language of the policy.
Chief Miller thanked the public for their compelling comments saying, “your words are taken very seriously by myself and this commission all of which I will consider as we review policy 415.” Miller clarified his stance saying, “from a philosophical perspective, our officers and our department do not have any interest in someone’s immigration status. We don’t ask about it. We care about whether you are a victim, a witness or suspect. We ask questions according to those three headings and we never will ask someone’s immigration status.”
Concerns were raised about the fact that South Pasadena doesn’t have a jail (just a temporary holding cell) so arrests are taken to either Pasadena, which has a similar policy to South Pasadena, and Alhambra, which does not. Public comments were made about seeking other options apart from Alhambra. Chief Miller did say that when people are booked at Pasadena and Alhambra, they actually go immediately into the LA County registry.
Miller added, “we respect everyone who does business here, who lives here, who travels here. We will treat everyone with respect and dignity. That’s the way our department operates and will continue that.”
After the meeting, South Pasadena Democratic Club president Zahir Robb was pleased with the tenor of the meeting saying, “it seems like both the intent of the police chief, the public safety commission and City Council is one that is aligned with our goals as a group, looking to protect immigrants’ rights. I would say we are pleased with the openness and willingness to hear our thoughts and implement them in the policy.”