NCLR Board of Director Votes Unanimously to Authorize Move of 2009 Annual Conference

Washington, DC – The Board of Directors of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the U.S., today authorized NCLR’s President and CEO, Janet Murguía, to move the 2009 Annual Conference from Kansas City to an alternate site. NCLR acted on the request of its Kansas City Affiliates to move the Conference after Mayor Mark Funkhouser appointed an active member of the extremist Minuteman Civil Defense Corps to a city commission and failed to respond to community leaders offended by this action. "Our decision is a clear expression of support for Kansas City’s Hispanic community," said Monica Lozano, NCLR Board Chair. "An active member of the Minutemen should not be an official representative for a city that purports to believe in diversity."

According to Lozano, the Mayor’s lack of responsiveness to the Hispanic community’s pleas to address this issue persuaded them to act. "We are dismayed," she said, "by the Mayor’s complete lack of understanding of what a Minuteman city official symbolizes to his Hispanic constituents and to the Latino community nationwide. We have to stand by our community and by our principles," stated Lozano.

"As someone from the Kansas City area, this is a very sad day for me. The Mayor has failed to take direct action and we hold him fully accountable. From the beginning, he has completely misunderstood this situation. The Minuteman is a group that has undeniably sown division and intolerance wherever it has gone and whose members have harassed, intimidated, and menaced human beings, often simply based on their appearance," stated Murguía.

A number of watchdog organizations, including the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the Anti-Defamation League, and the Center for New Community, have documented the links between the Minutemen and White supremacist and other hate groups. SPLC has termed the Minutemen as a "nativist extremist" group that "targets people, rather than policy. They do not limit themselves to advocating, even in forceful terms, for stricter border security…Instead, they go after the immigrants themselves."

"Joining the Minutemen because you have an issue with illegal immigration is like joining a White supremacist group because you have an issue with affirmative action," said Murguía.

"We deeply appreciate the support we have received from the NAACP and other community leaders in Kansas City. I want to especially thank Congressman Cleaver for his heroic attempts to resolve this issue. But at the end of the day the Mayor has made his choice, which he clearly has the right to do. We also have the right to choose where we spend our hard-earned dollars for an event that recognizes, celebrates, and honors the numerous contributions of the Latino community. And we will continue to support organizations, such as our Affiliates in Kansas City, that work hard to open the doors of opportunity for their communities," concluded Murguía.

Source: NCLR

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