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Johnson County Supervisors sign anti-discrimination resolution


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Johnson County Supervisor Rod Sullivan and Sergio A-wan of the Center for Worker Justice hold up a resolution to support and protect all residents. Photo by Eleanore Taft

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution “of commitment to support and protect all residents” at a public meeting Thursday.

The resolution was suggested by Iowa City restauranteur Derek Perez, and supervisor Mike Carberry brought it to the board. Supervisor Pat Harney said he sees the resolution as an extension of the Johnson County Human Rights Ordinance, an anti-discrimination ordinance passed in 2006.

Community members at the meeting spoke out in favor of the resolution, beginning with Marcela Hurtado from the Center for Worker Justice (CWJ), who thanked the supervisors. Hurtado said that many are afraid right now, but that she has also witnessed a lot of support and love and people standing together.

Supervisor-elect Kurt Friese attended the meeting, and said that he hopes the board and the Iowa City government will formally state that they will not support president-elect Trump’s plans for mass deportation.

Rafael Morataya, director of the CWJ said that he witnessed an immigration raid in Minnesota, and that it was destructive to both the community and the economy. Morataya said that his children have seen displays of hate at school since last week’s election, and that he hopes there is an effort to address discrimination in the school system.

Johnson County Recorder Kim Painter said that she is very concerned about Trump’s support for a national register of Muslims in America. Painter, a catholic, said that if such a policy came to pass she would register as a Muslim and encourage others to do the same, in order to render the registry meaningless.

Carberry said that fighting discrimination requires ordinary people to get involved in the political process. Johnson County should be a place where everyone feels safe and welcome, Carberry said.

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Supervisors discuss the resolution. Photo by Eleanore Taft.

Supervisor Janelle Rettig recounted her own experiences with discrimination. She said that she has received death threats for her activism, but has never been more afraid than in the past week because so many people have been attacked.

However, Rettig said, only 25 percent of Americans eligible to vote actually endorsed Trump’s rhetoric by voting for him. She also said she is not just concerned about the agenda of the national government, but the incoming state government’s plans regarding minimum wage, collective bargaining, social services and mental health, as well. Rettig said that she supports the post-election protests, and that she is ready to fight.

Chairman of the board Rod Sullivan said that he has hope for the future when he sees the activism of young people, like high school students who organized a march against hate and discrimination Tuesday in Iowa City.

“We all need each other a lot more these days. Don’t be afraid to show it,” Rettig said.

Eleanore Taft is a member of the Center for Worker Justice.

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