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Photo: Orange County Organizer 

Freedom Fighter of the Month

Coyotl Tezcalipoca

In December 2005, the southern California city of Costa Mesa passed a measure that would allow local police officers to participate in immigration law. Costa Mesa is a town largely made up of Latinos, and many citizens feared that these new police powers would give police officers an excuse to engage in racial profiling (i.e. they could stop, harass or detain anyone who "looked like an illegal immigrant"). It also could help to further an anti-immigrant climate within the community.

At the next city council meeting the following month, over 100 people came to speak out against the decision. Many went to a podium during the public comment period to voice their concerns. One of these people was Coyotl Tezcalipoca. During his speech, Tezcalipoca asked members of the audience to "stand up" if they supported immigrants' rights. Even though he had not gone over his three-minute time limit, Costa Mesa mayor Allan Mansoor cut Tezcalipoca off, claiming that speakers were not allowed people to stand (although a previous speaker who supported the city's actions had done so earlier). Mansoor then ordered police to remove Tezcalipoca from the room. Police assaulted him, and then arrested him for "resisting arrest."

Later, all charges were dropped against Tezcalipoca, and the mayor is being investigated for violating the rules himself. The ACLU has filed a lawsuit against Costa Mesa on Tezcalipoca's behalf. He continues to fight against the city and region's anti-immigrant movement.