PRESS RELEASE: Immigrant Organizers Respond to Kennewick Council Candidate’s Incendiary Remarks.
August 22, 2011
For Immediate Release: Monday August 22, 2011
Contact: El Comité Pro Reforma Migratoria Y Justicia Social, 206.324.6044.
Kennewick Council Candidate Loren Nichols’ comments that undocumented immigrants should “be shot at the border” and given “the death penalty” are on par with Hate Speech and Incitement of violence against immigrant workers.
SEATTLE – El Comité Pro Reforma Migratoria y Justicia Social and allied groups, organizations and individuals strongly condemn Kennewick Council Candidate Loren Nichols’ incendiary comments on Tri-Cities’ KONA Radio 610 AM and Tri-Cities CBS Affiliate, KEPR TV, overtly calling for shooting immigrants and giving those within the City of Kennewick, the death penalty. Far beyond rhetoric and highly ignorant xenophobic grandstanding, Nichols’ vitriolic commentary goes further by proposing ethnic and racially charged violence against the immigrant worker community of Kennewick.
On KONA Radio 610 AM, Nichols told host Jeff Phillips, “Rape of our city and rape of our country is something that should be dealt with by the highest penalty.” He further mentioned “if they value their lives, they would leave.” Soon after, he spoke in an interview on KEPR TV, reiterating his view that “illegal aliens should’ve been shot at the border,” and that if he were elected to office, he would see to it that the city “mandate that (death) as the penalty.” This in addition to making Kennewick “English-only” and banning all undocumented immigrants, giving them 30 days to forcefully uproot from Kennewick city limits. To this day, Nichols objects to any interviews on Spanish-language printed or television media and has yet to apologize to the community for inciting violence against Kennewick’s undocumented immigrants.
To add perspective, it is important to look at recent examples of xenophobic tinged hate speech leading to acts of intimidation, violence and murder. Such acts include the murder of Raul (29) and Brisena (9) Flores by Shawna Forde, formerly a high ranking member of the Washington State Minutemen Civil Defense Corps, and two accomplices (Forde was convicted of the double-murder and sentenced to death in Pima County Arizona). Likewise, there was direct correlation between incendiary right-wing speech and the massacre in Tucson, Arizona in January of 2011 that left 6 people dead and 14 injured. For detailed information, see the following links:
According to FBI statistics, between the years 2003 to 2007, violence against Latinos (regardless of documented status) rose over 40 percent to all-time highs. As of 2009, the FBI reports that “Hispanics” account for approximately 62 percent of all hate crime victims based on ethnicity or nationality. Additionally, according to the California Attorney General’s office, in 2010 the incidence of hate crimes against Latinos in that state rose by 50 percent. This further indicates the level of violence that has become common place in wake of polemic debate that continually vilifies and dehumanizes immigrant workers. If California is any indicator, it is safe to assume that statistics in other states across the nation did not fare much better, with states like Georgia and Alabama following in Arizona’s lead in using immigrant workers, and in particular, Latinos, as readily accessible political scapegoats. This increasingly feeds an anti-immigrant frenzy that leads to violence, intimidation and denial of basic human rights, as many more incidents go unreported out of fear of police and ICE agent harassment.
In sum, we reiterate the point that Mr. Nichols’ comments go beyond the irresponsible and politically absurd in regard to cheap political posturing. In fact, Nichols’ comments are at best, poorly veiled racist pandering and at worst, hate speech of the most vile that borders on criminal negligence. Not only do his comments steep to the lowest common practice of perpetuating racism and creating hostile environments, but also go farther in advocating violence against a racial minority by utilizing the forum afforded to him as a candidate running for office as he stumps for “shooting” people and giving them the “death penalty.”
As members of the immigrant, labor, faith, student, and social justice communities we grant our full support to the immigrant community of Kennewick, Washington. Neither Nichols, nor anyone else running for office has the right to incite violence against those who reside within their jurisdictions. As an immigrant and workers’ rights organization, we will continue to work as we have done since the year 2000 to ensure that all people, regardless of race, class, gender, orientation, ability, and nationality are given respect and have the right to live and work in peace, as is their universal human right to do so. We will continue to organize and we will keep our candidates and representatives accountable to our communities.
For more information, contact the following: El Comité Pro Reforma Migratoria Y Justicia Social, 206.324.6044.