SAN FRANCISCO — A small group of Minuteman Project activists demonstrated Wednesday against this city's sanctuary policy, but their call for Mayor Gavin Newsom's ouster was drowned out by hundreds of chanting immigration rights supporters.
Jim Gilchrist, founder of the anti-illegal-immigrant group, stepped inside City Hall, where he told reporters that Newsom should resign because of "his endorsement and support of sanctuary city status that led to the horrific slayings of the Bologna family."
Newsom, he said, is "indirectly" responsible for the June 22 deaths of Anthony Bologna, 48, and his sons Matthew, 16, and Michael, 20, who were gunned down in their Honda Civic while heading home from a family get-together.
Three days later, police arrested Edwin Ramos, 21, an illegal immigrant from El Salvador with alleged ties to the Mara Salvatrucha gang. Police initially said the killings occurred after Bologna inadvertently blocked Ramos' car on a narrow street and the suspect pulled up and started shooting.
But Lt. Michael Stasko, head of the San Francisco Police Department's homicide unit, said Monday that the killing was probably a "gang-related" case of mistaken identity and "had nothing to do with road rage."
Addressing the Board of Supervisors' public safety committee, Stasko said: "We have an idea that apparently the people in the car [the Bolognas] were similar to Hispanic males, and they were targeted because of being Hispanic males."
The slayings drew national attention last week after the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Ramos had been convicted of felonies twice as a juvenile. Because of the sanctuary city policy, however, he was never handed over to federal immigration authorities.
Defense attorney Robert Amparan did not respond to requests for comment.
The Minuteman Project is best known for its citizen patrol of the U.S.-Mexico border by volunteers whom President Bush has described as "vigilantes."
But Wednesday, Gilchrist said his organization was now going to begin targeting sanctuary cities nationwide.
Retired San Francisco probation officer Judith Terracina was one of a dozen or so Minuteman supporters in front of City Hall on Wednesday. Although she is not a member of the group, she said she approved of its efforts to overturn sanctuary city policies.
In the adult probation department, she said, "we had big issues regarding illegal aliens. The issue had to do with our hands being tied. We were ordered not to report them" to federal immigration authorities.
Under the San Francisco policy, no city employee is permitted to spend city money to assist U.S. immigration officials. An exception to the original ordinance was for adult undocumented felons or those arrested on felony charges.
Newsom recently ordered that juvenile felons also be handed over to federal authorities if they are believed to be in the country illegally.
"Is the mayor going to resign? No," said Newsom spokesman Nathan Ballard. "This policy has been met with controversy for 20 years. The mayor stands by the spirit of the sanctuary city policy. However, there have been some issues with its implementation."
Renee Saucedo, an attorney with an organization called La Raza Centro Legal, appeared at the protest "to send a message that we . . . represent inclusiveness and acceptance and not hate and scapegoating."