In 1987, Governor Evan Mecham of Arizona did something terribly offensive: he rescinded the newly-created Martin Luther King holiday in the state. This act incited a series of boycotts and pullouts that ended up costing Arizona a Super Bowl, dozens of conventions and hundreds of millions of dollars.
And in response to the vicious anti-immigrant bill recently signed by Governor Brewer, cities in California are leading the way in creating yet another round.
Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco got things started on Tuesday by declaring a ban on all official city travel to Arizona:
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom announced today a moratorium on official city travel to Arizona after the state enacted a controversial new immigration law that directs local police to arrest those suspected of being in the country illegally.
The ban on city employee travel to Arizona takes effect immediately, although there are some exceptions, including for law enforcement officials investigating a crime, officials said. It's unclear how many planned trips by city workers will be curtailed.
Southern California is getting into the act as well. This upcoming Monday, West Hollywood will consider a similar resolution that will also push for other economic sanctions:
In an effort to oppose SB1070, Arizona’s new anti-immigration law, the City Council of West Hollywood will consider adopting a resolution denouncing it and calling upon the City Manager to immediately suspend official travel to the State of Arizona and develop additional financial sanctions until such time as the new law is revoked.
“For 25 years, the City of West Hollywood has stood at the forefront of supporting human rights,” said Councilmember Lindsey Horvath, who authored this resolution. “As a beacon for all those who have sought refuge, West Hollywood cannot be silent. We must send a loud and clear message that revoking the rights of a minority class of citizens is an unacceptable and unconscionable practice."
The next morning, the Los Angeles City Council will hear a resolution put forth by Councilmember Janice Hahn (who is also running against Gavin Newsom in the Democratic Primary for Lieutenant Governor) to boycott Arizona and end all contracts with the state. From a news release via email:
Councilwoman Janice Hahn will introduce a resolution calling on the City of Los Angeles to boycott the State of Arizona. The resolution will call for Los Angeles, and all of its departments, to end any and all contracts with Arizona-based companies and to stop doing business with the state
While the motion will be introduced today, it will not be heard by the City Council until next Tuesday, May 4.
L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has tweeted his approval of Councilmember Hahn's effort.
Also on Tuesday evening, the City of Oakland, across the bay from San Francisco, will also consider a boycott:
Oakland City Council members on Thursday proposed a city boycott of Arizona and Arizona-based businesses after the state's passage of a strict anti-illegal immigrant law last week.
The law, signed by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, gives law enforcement broad powers to detain people they suspect of being in the country illegally. Opponents say it will lead to racial profiling and harassment of members of the Hispanic community in particular.
City Council President Jane Brunner (North Oakland) is sponsoring the proposed resolution with council members Jean Quan (Montclair-Laurel) and Ignacio De La Fuente (Fruitvale-Glenview). Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan (at-large) and religious leaders joined them
Thursday in support of the proposal.
And in other reactions, prospective students are already refusing to attend Arizona universities, while in a move reminiscent of 1987, the Major League Baseball Players' Union is opposing the law because it could force hundreds of foreign-born players to prove their immigration status any time they go play the Diamondbacks.
Hopefully, all the pressure and threats of economic loss will convince Governor Brewer and the Arizona Legislature to do the right thing. But if 1987 is any indication, we could be in this one for the long haul.