From TheCalifornian, The Salinas Californian, “Citing safety concerns, Greenfield city councilman sought police protection from UFW march” by Kimber Solana, 29 Mar 2011.
About 1,000 attended Sunday event; no incidents were reported
A Greenfield city councilman, citing concerns over safety for himself and his family, requested police protection at his home during Sunday’s United Farm Worker march to honor civil rights leader Cesar Chavez, officials disclosed Monday.
Four officers — including two whose time will be paid for by Greenfield taxpayers — were deployed on Oak Avenue and 11th Street, outside the home of Councilman John Martinez.
Police Chief Joe Grebmeier said Monday the officers were deployed per instructions of City Manager Roger Wong via request by Martinez late last week.
Grebmeier added there had been “a rumor or two” circulated that the UFW would protest briefly outside the councilman’s home, which was along the march route.
On Monday, Martinez, denied asking for a specific number of officers to guard his home during the march.
“I just stated there was a concern over safety,” he said. “The safety of the community comes first.”
Martinez’s statement comes despite saying Monday that recent UFW-led marches in the south Monterey County city have been peaceful, and that the four officers remained outside his home during the event.
Four other officers, who had initially been to tasked to provide police presence during the march, assisted with traffic and escorting the attendees.
In the end, the march, attended by over 1,000 people, did not target Martinez’s home and no unlawful activities were reported during the event.
“The councilmember’s actions reflect incredible disrespect and mistrust of democracy,” UFW President Arturo Rodriguez said Monday. “When [the farm workers] exercise their First Amendment rights, the councilmembers uses the occasion to abuse the resources and the trust of the good people of Greenfield.”
The cost to taxpayers for the additional officers, who worked about three hours, was not available Monday. City Hall was closed in observance of the Cesar Chavez Day holiday. Two officers from Soledad and Gonzales assisted in guarding Martinez’s home pro bono.
Grebmeier said that four officers had been deemed enough police presence for the annual march as no incidents have occurred in previous events.
All of the original four officers would be paid for by the UFW, he said.
Martinez and councilwoman Yolanda Teneyuque have been at the center of growing racial tension in Greenfield. The two elected leaders have taken actions — including approving a $20,000 audit on the police department, deemed by the farm worker union as “racist” toward the city’s Oaxacan community.