Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Friends of Friendship Park press conference in San Diego July 8

What: release of open letter to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano

When: Wednesday, July 8, 10 a.m.

Where: U.S. District Court, 940 Front Street, San Diego, CA

Who: Friends of Friendship Park;

Contacts: John Fanestil (619-823-6223; john@; Jill Holslin (619-804-8030;; Rosemary Johnston (619-384-6852;; Enrique Morones (619-977-9467;; Pedro Rios (619-370-5908;; Dan Watman (619-954-9710; dan.watman@

California State Attorney General Edmund G. Brown, Jr., together with local, state and federal elected officials, has joined some 70 community-based organizations and over 130 community leaders in a joint letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, calling for the restoration of routine public access to Friendship Park, the historic location overlooking the Pacific Ocean where for generations people have gathered with friends and family at the U.S.-Mexico border fence.

Elected leaders signing on to the joint letter include Lt. Governor John Garamendi, Members of Congress Susan Davis and Bob Filner, State Senators Denise Ducheny and Christine Kehoe, State Assemblymembers Mary Salas and Lori SaldaƱa, and San Diego City Councilmembers Marti Emerald, Donna Frye, Todd Gloria, Ben Hueso and Tony Young.

The text of the joint letter will be released at a press conference on Wednesday, July 8 at 10 a.m. in front of the U.S. District Court, 940 Front Street, San Diego, CA 92101.

Speakers will include Kevin Keenan, Executive Director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties; Rudy Murillo, past Acting Director of the San Diego Immigration and Naturalization Service; Pedro Rios of the American Friends Service Committee; and Daniel Watman of the community-based organization Border Encuentro. Mr. Watman faces Federal trespassing charges in the U.S. District Court at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, after standing in front of a bull dozer and temporarily stopping the construction of the new wall that currently restricts all access to the U.S. side of Friendship Park.

The text of the letter will also be posted at 12 noon on Wednesday to the Friends of Friendship Park website:

Civic leaders endorsing the letter include former Ambassador to Mexico Jeffrey Davidow, former U.S. Congresswoman Lynn Schenk, and former State Senators Lucy Killea and Steve Peace. Also endorsing are Irwin Jacobs, Murray Galinson, Deborah Szekely, Christine Forrester, Marcy Krinsk and dozens more.

Wayne Cornelius (Distinguished Professor of Political Science Emeritus, UC San Diego), David Shirk (Director of the Trans-Border Institute, University of San Diego) and Richard Griswold del Castillo (Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies, San Diego State University) are just a few of the over 30 educators who signed the letter.

Religious leaders supporting the letter come from almost every tradition and include Bishop Mary Ann Swenson of the United Methodist Church, Rev. Dr. Arvid Straube of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego, Dr. Jamie Gates, Director of the Center for Justice and Reconciliation at Point Loma Nazarene University and Rev. Ann Seisen Saunders of National City’s Sweetwater Zen Center.

San Diego’s legal community is represented on the letter by Administrative Law Judge Deborah Smaller, California Western Law Professor William J. Aceves, and Eric Alan Isaacson of Coughlin Stoia Gellar Rudman & Robbins LLP, among many others.

Dozens of San Diego-based organizations are signatories to the letter, including human rights organizations like the National Lawyers Guild and the San Diego Human Relations Commission, religious organizations like Office for Social Ministry, Diocese of San Diego, and environmental organizations like the Environmental Health Coalition and WiLDCOAST.

Dozens more organizations from beyond San Diego have adopted the cause of Friendship Park. Just a few of these to endorse the letter are: Border Ambassadors (Del Rio, TX), Frontera de Cristo (Douglas, AZ/Agua Prieta, Sonora), Interfaith Coalition for Immigrant Rights (San Francisco, CA), Justice and Witness Ministries, United Church of Christ (Washington, DC), Mexican Community Center of New York, CECOMEX (New York, NY), Sojourners (Washington, DC) and Western Lands Project (Seattle, WA).

“The entire border should not be reduced to a ‘no-man’s land,” said John Fanestil, Executive Director of the San Diego-based Foundation for Change and a leader in the Friends of Friendship Park coalition. “Friendship Park reminds us all that a brighter future lies ahead for the borderlands and border people.”

“We are encouraged by recent overtures from [“Border Czar”] Alan Bersin and [San Diego Border Patrol Chief] Mike Fisher,” said Enrique Morones, President of Border Angels and another leader in the Friends of Friendship Park coalition. “We are confident the Park will re-open soon.”

Friends of Friendship Park –

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