In this week's CityBeat, I outline plans by labor groups and the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties to recognize the 100-year anniversary of the 1912 San Diego Free Speech Fight next spring. Even though the story was upwards of 1,400 words, I feel like I could've crammed in at least double that.
So, here are a few more things I'd like to put out there for your consideration. ---
I only barely grazed the surface of what actually happened in 1912 when the San Diego City Council passed an ordinance banning public speaking downtown. But here are the links I've been sending out as background to people and sources interested in learning more.
Jim Miller's latest book, Flash, is available from AK Press.
The rest of Roach
I wanted to solicit City Councilmember Carl DeMaio's reaction to plans for a "Labor Fest" in San Diego, but DeMaio, who has cast himself as public-employee-union enemy No. 1, hasn't responded to our inquiries in months.
So, I turned to public-employee-union enemy No. 2, Derrick Roach. The private investigator may be the closest thing to an anti-union thug these days, using his detective techniques to basically stalk perceived political opponents. I sent Roach the above links and expected him to fire back with a barbed comment. He didn't. He applauded his opponents and offered his support for the project. I guess that's testament to how far we've come as a society.
In the end, I did use the quotes from Roach that had a little back-hand to them, but overall his written statement was quite reassuring. Here's the whole of it:
As a native San Diegan whose family homesteaded in the area during the early days of San Diego, I considered myself well versed on all things San Diego. Admittedly, I was unaware of the history of the San Diego Free Speech Fight. I applaud Lorena Gonzales with the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council, the ACLU and the professors from San Diego City College for raising the public's awareness about this important event from San Diego's history which captured the attention of the nation during the labor movement in the early part of the twentieth century. Free speech is a constitutional right that all American's enjoy today because of individuals who were brave enough to stand and be heard, even when their message was not received well by the majority of the citizenry and resulted in persecutions, beatings, tar and featherings and unfortunately some deaths. It is hard to believe that the elected officials of the past tried banning all free speech in San Diego along "soapbox row" simply because people did not like the message. Congratulations to those involved in this effort to raise the public's consciousness about the importance of free speech. When the free speech rights of any group, however much they may be despised, is limited all Americans suffer. I hope that if the soapboxes are ever erected again on the streets of San Diego that these groups remember to include all groups to participate in civil public discourse rather than the violent tactics of the past that filled the street of San Diego.I really admire that response.
Republican Party of San Diego County
I wish we could offer the same kudos to Tony Krvaric, chairman of the Republican Party of San Diego County. Minutes after we published the story online, Krvaric jumped in with reactionary spin, tweeting this about San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council CEO and Treasurer Lorena Gonzalez:
TonyKrvaric: Clever. @lorenasgonzalez tries to equate "free speech" = "labor unions". Tell that to union members who oppose their union bosses. #meetvitoIt really isn't worth arguing whether labor unions helped advance the cause of free speech. They did. It's a fact and that's not a reflection on their politics, but their well-documented efforts and sacrifice to secure a right that's now guaranteed to all.
And as for whether "union bosses" suppress the speech of their members, Krvaric shouldn't throw stones from his crystal palace. The San Diego Republican Party's bylaws allow for the committee to expel any member who voices support for any candidate other than the officially endorsed ones. That includes committee members who publicly endorse or campaign for Republican A over committee-approved Republican B, or members who despise the endorsed candidate so much that they think people should not vote in that race at all.
The actual line is:
The Committee may remove any member... who publicly advocates that the voters should not vote for the nominee or endorsed candidate of this party for an office, or who gives support or avows a preference for a candidate of another party or candidate who is opposed to a candidate nominated or endorsed by this party.That sounds like oppression of expression to me.
Roach invoked this clause last year in formally calling for the removal of committee members Woody Woodrum, who publicly endorsed Republican John Van Doorn over incumbent Republican Bill Horn in the San Diego County Supervisor's race, and Kim Tran, who continued to run in the San Diego City Council District 6 race after the party endorsed Lorie Zapf. Both resigned before action could be taken against them.
Krvaric also tweeted:
TonyKrvaric: Waiting for the day when we have a "Capitalism Studies" program at San Diego City College. #nosocialistprograms #notwithmytaxdollars #clownsKrvaric's remark is in response to information in the story about San Diego City College's Labor Studies program, which will include a class on collective bargaining in the fall and organizing in the spring. What Krvaric seemed to neglect is that SDCC already has a Business Studies program (which includes coursework in human relations, i.e. how to manage workers). I asked Krvaric what would be the difference between a business program and a capitalism program. He didn't respond.
One final FYI: Gonzalez tells us that the Labor Council is bringing Al Sharpton to town to speak at the Bayview Baptist Church on June 27.