City Attorney, Mayor object to public
comment on
Gaza, Ferguson

August 22, 2014
Santa Paula News

The mayor made a tentative move at Monday’s meeting to have the police chief silence a speaker that addressed the City Council regarding conflicts in the Gaza Strip and Ferguson, Missouri.

Victor Carlos Espinosa submitted a public comment speaker’s card at the August 18 meeting and was allotted the standard 3 minutes to speak.

Espinosa told the council he represents a “newly formed community group, the Friendly Neighborhood Action Committee, and on their behalf I am the voice of conscience and collective pain,” at what is occurring around the globe.

Espinosa said, “We were saddened by the massacre in Gaza” where “neighborhoods, hospitals and schools,” are being targeted for shelling and bombing.

Of the approximately 2,000 people killed in the attacks launched by Israel, Espinosa said 86 percent are civilians.

“Billions,” of American tax dollars were used to purchase the weapons “used against these Palestinian civilians... “ 

City Attorney John Cotti interrupted Espinosa, noting, “Although I appreciate the viewpoint,” the issues are not “within the jurisdiction of the City Council,” and are not those that the council can take action on.

“I understand sir this is public comment,” said Espinosa.

Cotti asked Espinosa to “please” direct his remarks to council matters; the Gaza Strip he added, does not fall under it.

“I will get there,” said Espinosa, who gestured at Cotti and noted, “Not withstanding the misunderstanding and censorship, I call upon the city council to take a public call to action... “ 

He asked that the council move forward with the committee to sanction taking action against those manufacturers who provided the weapons used in Gaza as well as the tear gas used during the rioting in Ferguson, Missouri.

“Chief, will you help us here?” Cook said to Police Chief Steve McLean who was in the audience. 

“Your time is up,” Cook told Espinosa.

“I still have 28 seconds on there sir,” said Espinosa, referring to the speaker’s clock.

Cook called upon Cotti, who again asked Espinosa to confine his remarks to council matters.

“We have no control,” said Cook, “over what you are saying... “ 

Espinosa concluded his remarks by calling upon the council, local civic and Latino leaders, “particularly social justice orientated organizations to take up the issue of boycott, divestment and sanctions in our own community... “ 

Councilman Bob Gonzales asked Espinosa the name of the organization he was representing and Espinosa gave the email address of the Friendly Neighborhood Action Committee.

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