The Bloomington City Council has decided to boycott now because of Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s bill that would require legal immigrants to carry documents proving their legal status while giving Arizona authorities the right to question anyone they “reasonably suspect” of being an illegal alien.
Councilwoman Susan Sandberg said the 1993 boycott was implemented after Arizona voters decided to reject Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Without clearly defining what constitutes reasonable suspicion, the members of City Council argue the new bill essentially legalizes racial profiling and could ultimately lead to more significant civil rights violations, Sandberg said.
“We understand there’s a problem,” she said, “but you don’t go violating your constitution or eroding civil rights to fix it.”
The boycott includes not sending city members to meetings in Arizona, refusing to enter contracts with companies that are Arizona-based and reviewing current contracts with companies in Bloomington whose corporate offices are in Arizona.
At the core of both these boycotts were civil rights issues.
Councilman Chris Sturbaum said the actions implemented by Arizona’s bill are unconstitutional and should not be accepted by any community in America.
“This is a national issue because these are national values and amendments that protect individual civil rights are everyone’s business. This is our country’s issue,” Sturbaum said.
By stamping and sending a letter of intent to boycott, Bloomington joins the ranks of communities including Boulder, Colo., Los Angeles, Seattle, Oakland, Calif., San Francisco, Boston and St. Paul, Minn., that have also implemented boycotts against Arizona.
Critics question the impact that the Bloomington boycott will have, but Sandberg said the message is more important.
“Do I think what we do will matter to people in Arizona?” Sandberg said. “Quite frankly, I don’t. It’s more of a symbolic measure, and it’s been noticed by the rest of the country.”
Since Bloomington’s announcement about the boycott, City Council members have received both angry and supportive statements from Bloomington residents.
“For me, personally, the purpose is about the civil right erosions that are contained in the bill,” Sandberg said. “And I think that’s getting lost in the boycott.”
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