Los Angeles police are looking for an okay from the city council to extend a contract with an Arizona-based company, in violation of the city’s boycott against the state over its anti-immigrant law, SB 1070. The LAPD’s request is the most significant test yet to the crop of municipal boycotts that have popped up since Arizona passed SB 1070—and the boycott isn’t likely to hold.
The L.A. Times reports that Arizona Travel Solutions supplies cameras at 32 intersections around the L.A. to catch red-light runners. The city council’s public safety committee said the camera contract should be exempt from the boycott because they ensure public safety.
Most cities that have passed boycott resolutions have not been tested this way—or been so open about their business dealings. Los Angeles’ troubles provide a glimpse into how far a city will go to honor its political position; most of the dozen-plus cities who’ve passed boycott resolutions have purposely included lenient language that “recommends” a city consider pulling out of contracts with Arizona-based companies or “cautions against” doing new business. Most city resolutions are also non-binding, symbolic agreements.
When Los Angeles passed its boycott resolution on May 12, it strongly condemned the Arizona law, cautioned against entering into new contracts with the state and forbade city employees to travel there. It remains the largest city to boycott Arizona over SB 1070, which empowers law enforcement officials to detain and investigate the immigration status of anyone they think might be in the state without papers.
Last week the LAPD canceled a training trip for several officers that was scheduled before the boycott took effect. Police Chief Charlie Beck said he pulled his officers out of that training to respect the boycott, though others weren't so happy.
"I think it's a huge mistake," Paul Weber, head of LAPD's professional league told the L.A. Times. "When the department decided a few months ago to send these officers to this training, they obviously saw the value in it. Public safety shouldn't be sacrificed just because Arizona's become a political football."
According to the L.A. Times, the city council is expected to grant LAPD's request today.
Oakland has also violated its own boycott by renewing a $1 mllion contract with the corporate advertising company, Clear Channel, which is based in Arizona. The New York Times reports that both Berkeley and San Francisco continue to do business with the state despite passing their own generously worded boycott resolutions.
Most of the economic pressure on Arizona has come in the form of hotel and conference cancellations in the Phoenix metro area, to the tune of about $10 million so far, according to Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon. Elsewhere, the economic and locality-based boycotts of Arizona continue on a much quieter scale. But like Lawrence Glickman, a labor historian at the University of South Carolina told ColorLines: Boycotts are very easy to start, but much harder to finish.
Photo: Getty Images/David McNew