SIMI VALLEY (CBSLA) — Emotions ran high at Monday night’s packed Simi Valley City Council meeting with many upset after a councilwoman posted a video critical of President Donald Trump’s latest sweep of undocumented immigrants to Facebook.
In the video, Councilwoman Ruth Luevanos used her platform as a member of the council to talk about the border detention centers — referring to them at one point as “concentration camps” — and informed immigrants of their rights during raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“We have a responsibility as community leaders that our most vulnerable — whether they’re homeless, or veterans, or low-income or our immigrant population — are taken care of and that they feel safe in our community,” Luevanos said.
Simi Valley Mayor Keith Mashburn said Luevanos has her right to free speech, but said that she shouldn’t have used her city office.
“It gave the appearance that it was endorsed by the city,” Mashburn said. “It had a city logo, and she announced that she was a city council member. It made it appear that it was the stance of the council.”
And even before the council meeting, lines were divided with residents on both sides of the issue prompting the presence of police officers to keep the peace.
“Ms. Luevanos, you claim that immigration and customs enforcement officers are doing their jobs is immoral,” Leah Williams, a Simi Valley resident, said. “Immoral means unethical, dishonest. That’s not the true classification of immoral.”
Critics took exception to the fact that Luevanos referred to immigrant detention centers as “concentration camps,” and they’re calling what she advised to undocumented people as lawlessness. Luevanos disagrees.
“I don’t think police officers are encouraging lawlessness when they give people their Miranda rights, which they’re required to do by the U.S. Supreme Court,” Luevanos said. “I actually have a law degree and a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, so me giving people their rights — telling them what their rights are — which are according to the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment, which is the equal protection clause, is no different than police officers telling people their Miranda rights.”
And Luevanos had her supporters as well. By Councilwoman Elaine Litster’s count, there were 25 speakers in support of Luevanos’ action and 25 speakers against.
“Council member Luevanos, I respect your integrity,” said one resident. “I respect your bravery. I respect your concern for the human rights of all human beings. You do not stand alone in this concern. I and so many other people here are standing with you.”
The councilwoman’s social media post has drawn death threats, and some were asking for a recall, but Luevanos said she’s not going anywhere.
After the bevy of public speakers, council members responded briefly then took a short break at 1 a.m. before finishing the items on the agenda.