The California Civil Rights Alliance held its first press conference at the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco Oct. 1. Speakers presented the results of a questionnaire sent to all the candidates in the Oct. 7 gubernatorial recall election. The questionnaire included items about civil rights, racial profiling, the USA PATRIOT Act, and Proposition 54.
The newly formed alliance comprises more than 20 member organizations, along with individuals of diverse backgrounds, races, religions, ideologies, and economic status who have come together to work for a common aim: to protect and promote the civil rights of all.
The main speakers were drawn from these member organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Green Party, the American Muslim Alliance (AMA), and the Catholic and Episcopalian churches from northern California.
The first speaker, Dr. Agha Saeed, president of AMA, said he was disappointed that only about 15 percent of the 135 candidates bothered with the questionnaire. Most of those who did respond to the two-page survey, which focused mainly on the USA PATRIOT Act and Proposition 54, confessed to having negligible to modest knowledge of the act. Those who responded at least expressed an interest in learning more about it, however.
Dr. Saeed also noted that not a single question on civil rights was asked at the televised debates. These two facts indicate that civil rights seem to have a very low priority on the agenda of many of the gubernatorial candidates.
George Wesolek, of the Archdiocese of San Francisco's Office of Public Policy and Social Concerns, spoke about the importance of faith. He related the current struggles many Muslims, Arabs, and South Asians are facing with the struggles faced by many Catholics, Irish and Germans when they first came to this country.
Peter Camejo, the Green Party's candidate for California's governor, mentioned that …