July 15, 2007
BY NICHOLAS ALAJAKIS email@example.com
WAUKEGAN - A Hispanic business owner is upset over what he calls racist graffiti on his store front, related to new immigration enforcement being discussed by city leaders.
Marco Salcedo said his Grand Avenue hair salon was a target for graffiti Friday evening, because he is against 287 (g).
Since July 5 Salcedo has had an orange sign posted in the window of Di Marco Hair Salon, 1801 Grand Ave., that states he is against 287 (g). When he arrived to work Saturday morning, he says the sign was covered by another sign promoting 287 (g) and someone used black, water-based paints to write "Yes 287 (g)" on his window.
"I'm not happy with it," Salcedo said. "This isn't fair. It's my business, I can put up whatever I want."
In addition to paint that supported 287 (g), vandals also placed an orange sign that supported the measure. It was signed by a group calling itself "Legal American Waukegan Citizens." That sign was placed over Salcedo's existing orange sign.
To combat the sign, Salcedo placed three large poster board-sized signs in his window that proclaimed himself as a legal Hispanic business owner, with first amendment rights.
While upsetting, Salcedo said he's not entirely surprised that the 287 (g) debate has turned to vandalism.
"(City leaders) are putting whites and Hispanics in a war," said Salcedo, a legal Mexican immigrant who has lived in the United States for 20 years.
The "war" stems from the city's decision last month to move forward with applying for 287 (g) status, which could ultimately give Waukegan police authority to begin deportation proceedings for legal and illegal immigrants convicted of violent crimes. On Monday the city council plans to re-visit the issue and vote on it.
Many in the Hispanic community are against the proposal, because they feel it's giving local authorities too much control, which could ultimately result in the deportation of all illegal immigrants.
Many Hispanic advocacy groups have descended onto Waukegan in recent weeks to fight against 287 (g). Among them is Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, which helped distribute orange fliers speaking out against 287(g) to Hispanic-owned businesses in the city.
Lilia Paredes , vice president of the Chicago area LCLAA, blasted the graffiti.
"I consider it to be a hate crime and it should be taken very seriously," Paredes said.
Paredes said another Waukegan business left her a message Saturday morning to report similar graffiti, but she had not been able to confirm if it was related to the Di Marco incident.
Paredes said she was unfamiliar with the group Legal American Waukegan Citizens. Their name had not come up in recent debates.
Paredes said her group was going to urge Waukegan police to take harsh action against those responsible for the graffiti. She also wants Waukegan police to get out and encourage peace in the community.
Attempts to reach the Waukegan police for comment were unsuccessful.
The debate over 287 (g) is expected to come to a head Monday evening, when demonstrators from both sides plan to hold rallies in downtown Waukegan, prior to the City Council's 8 p.m. meeting.