The Sacramento City Council moved Tuesday night toward enacting a boycott of Arizona over that state's tough new immigration law. City staff will begin drafting a resolution outlining a city boycott of Arizona companies and defining the city's official position on the immigration law after several council members said they supported that move. The council could vote on the resolution as early as next week.
Councilman Rob Fong, who asked that Tuesday's discussion take place, said it was the city's responsibility to be heard on what he described as a "misguided and ill-conceived law."
Fong asked that his council colleagues join him in directing city staff to "draft a resolution condemning the law and instituting all boycotts that other cities have done and for us to take a very strong look at taking the most definitive position possible of opposition."
"We have an obligation for our voices to be heard," he said. "If enough voices are heard, I believe we can get the law in Arizona repealed."
A rare overflow crowd began lining up an hour before the council's weekly meeting. The council chambers were filled with loud applause, cheering and booing as the issue turned the normally quiet weekly meeting into a raucous debate.
As he introduced the discussion, Mayor Kevin Johnson said he had heard from people "who did not think the city of Sacramento should be talking about this issue. I respectfully disagree with that."
Most of the 80 speakers who addressed the council supported the city boycotting Arizona, including former Sacramento Police Chief Arturo Venegas Jr., who called the law "the civil rights issue of today."
"Will a boycott hurt Arizona?" Venegas asked the council. "Absolutely that is the intent. However, the true intent is to repeal the racist law of Arizona."
City officials were still working Tuesday to compile the value of the contracts the city has with companies based in Arizona. Many of the speakers criticized the council for spending time on an Arizona law while the city grapples with its own issues, notably a $43 million deficit. Many others said they supported the Arizona law.
"You do this (boycott) to Arizona, we'll do it to Sacramento," said speaker Jim Ricketts.
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