Not until the sleepy hour of 12:40 this morning did Culver City – on an unswerving path ever since campaigning began nearly five months ago – formally become one of America’s 300 sanctuary cities.
Wet with drama, electrifying with sizzling emotions, an overflow crowd lined the walls of Council Chambers and would have stood on the ceiling, too, if gravity had not interrupted them.
Fifty of the 54 speakers were pro-sanctuary city. The miniscule anti-ordinance turnout’s occasionally impressive speechmaking was offset by negative conduct.
On a night when Goran Eriksson was absent, the City Council vote was 3-1, with Vice Mayor Jeff Cooper dissenting. This was not because he opposed the concept – he was strongly for it. But he didn’t believe the finely detailed language of the resolution in cement form was necessary. He contended that the Police Dept. and any (peripherally?) involved hometown authority already are following the precise guidelines to avoid “inappropriate” apprehension of undocumented immigrants.
Otherwise, the only perceived discordant note in the resolution voting was a decision to pass on a $20,000 contributed to the Los Angeles Justice Fund.
Driven hard and with polished expertise by Councilmember Megan Sahli-Wells, the complex, sometimes arcane, language of the resolution was shaved, reshaped, rebuilt, parsed, closely inspected, tasted, tested more tenderly and lovingly than a newborn 20 minutes old.
The numbers of passion-driven sanctuary city advocates not only was overwhelming but stunningly articulate.
Most memorable was the electrically emotional testimony of teen student Dante Herrera, grandson of proud immigrants, son of William Herrera and Paula Amezola Day Herrera, both of whom testified, and brother of 12-year-old Maya Herrera, unable to address the throng.
Speaking with the mature conviction and insights of one much older, as young Dante was recounting the trials of two generations of immigrants in his family, he broke down. The sympathetic throng almost attempted to wrap its arms around him and help Dante resume his moving extemporaneous testimony.
At the end, the crowd stood, roared and deafeningly applauded.
Twelve-year-old Alex Thompson was an equal but different kind of star than Dante.
Alex, too, spoke sans script.
He opened his oration unforgettably:
“I was born a Democrat.”
He did not sound 12 when he said that “I don’t understand why we don’t want to create sanctuary cities and protect people.”
Never was there doubt about the final score despite the noisy, sometimes eloquent, but small, multiple sign-toting Trump-themed resistance. One person was evicted – others came close enough to make their angry breath unavoidable.