Capitol Alert: Protesting at Jerry Brown's office not always productive

dsiders@sacbee.comJuly 3, 2013 

Five immigration activists, including a legal observer, sit in Jerry Brown's reception area to lobby him on an immigration bill on Tuesday, July 2, 2013. Pictured, from left to right, are Hugo Gonzalez, Kenia Alcocer and Alex Aldana.

HECTOR AMEZCUA — hamezcua@sacbee.com

The anti-deportation activists who staged a sit-in at the governor's office Tuesday were milling about a Capitol hallway when a passerby shook his head and offered some advice.

A sit-in would accomplish nothing, said Irwin Nowick, a longtime Senate staffer, certainly not the activists' stated goal of a meeting with Jerry Brown.

"You don't jam this guy," he said.

There is precedent for this opinion. Brown was governor before, from 1975 to 1983, when a fired state janitor hoping for an appointment with Brown waited in his reception room five days a week for 475 days, at times sleeping in his car.

The sit-in only ended in 1983, when Brown left office and his successor, George Deukmejian, met with the fired janitor, Jonathan LaSalle.

The anti-deportation activists had a shorter time horizon in mind - six or seven hours, perhaps. Nearly a dozen of them arranged themselves on the floor and on chairs in Brown's reception area.

They hoped to press Brown to support a bill that would prevent local police from detaining people based on their immigration status unless they have been convicted of a felony or serious crime. Brown vetoed similar legislation last year, but he suggested in his veto message that it could be amended to gain his support, and administration officials said they are working with lawmakers on that revision.

Over the course of the afternoon the protesters outside Brown's office ate lunch and huddled around their laptops and their smart phones. The number of people inside Brown's office dwindled.

By the time Blanca Vazquez, of Oakland, emerged, six remained.

"They offered to let us sit on the couches," the 23-year-old woman said, "but we refused."

The office closed, and after 7 p.m., two people were cited and released.

The protesters left without meeting the governor, they said, but members of his administration will see them next week.

Bee photographer Hector Amezcua contributed to this report

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