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Protestors decry Savage hate speech

Protestors simulate death from self-starvation at a vigil
outside the office of Clear Channel in San Francisco yesterday.
Photos by John Han

By John Han

August 16, 2007

Bay Area community groups held a vigil yesterday outside the offices of Clear Channel Communications in San Francisco to condemn comments made by conservative radio talk show host Michael Savage.

"Let them fast until they starve to death," Savage said July 5 on his radio show The Savage Nation.

Savages's comments fuelled public outrage and led to a condemnation by a majority of San Francisco supervisors.

Savage's comments were directed at students on a week-long fast that began July 2 in five cities across California including San Francisco, to urge Congress to support the Dream Act.

The act, introduced in the Senate by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Richard Durbin (D-IL), would allow children of illegal immigrants, who have obtained a high school diploma, to pursue higher education or military service with temporary legal status and the possibility of permanent citizenship.

The bill asserts that children who were brought to this country by their parents, and by default have inherited their parent's illegal immigrant status, cannot be held responsible for their status as illegal immigrants since they had no say in their parents' decision to illegally move to the United States.

Furthermore, the act would provide eligible students with a six-year temporary conditional status allowing the students to remain in the United States lawfully. During that period participants would be required to complete either two years of college, or serve in the military for two years. After completing either of the requirements, students can apply for permanent legal residency and become citizens of the United States.

"No one has heard about the Dream Act," cried Marta Zelaya from Castro Valley. She said she spent most of her childhood growing up in San Francisco's Mission district. "The coverage where Latinos are concerned is not always there and what Michael Savage said is wrong. These are not gangbangers, these are students who want to make a difference."

San Jose resident Glen Garner said he is a regular listener of Savage's radio show and came to the vigil to provide balance to the protest.

"I'm not necessarily against these people. I think that there's an underlying reason why they're here," Garner said. "I think maybe they've been misdirected or misguided in that he [Michael Savage] has taken the issue of illegals and that they're lawbreakers, and he's brought it out. It is a big issue."

Meanwhile, some of the people inside the Clear Channel building could be seen looking out of a window at the protest while protesters staged a die-in.

Dressed in white and wearing skeletal face paint, protestors lay on the ground to simulate being dead as the crowd chanted, "this is what you want! This is what you want!"

Some protestors, who support the Dream Act and condemned Savage for his hate speech, said they do not support the demand for Clear Channel to cease broadcasting of Savage's radio show.

"I disagree with what they do completely," said Raul Reyes. "It doesn't matter what somebody says, it's still free speech."

Raul, a schoolteacher in Concord, came to the United States from Mexico nineteen years ago on a student visa and could not work in the United States legally at the time. He said he earned a college degree from Mexico and sympathizes with students who are eligible for the Dream Act.

"That's a tough one because they had no say when they came," Raul said.

"There was a moment when after getting married with a citizen, and that's how I became a citizen, when there was a complete new freedom, and now I can do what my college degree calls for," he added.

Meanwhile, the crowd protested with chants and spoke through bullhorns chanting "hate speech is not free speech," and demanded Savage's comments be condemned.




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