COSTA MESA , Calif. – An immigration rights activist was arrested after chaos erupted at a City Council meeting that drew a crowd of opponents and supporters of a plan to train city police officers to enforce immigration laws.
The council voted 3-2 for the plan last month and wasn't scheduled to vote on any immigration issue Tuesday, but the meeting drew about 100 opponents of the earlier decision and 40 backers, including Minuteman Project founder Jim Gilchrist.
Problems began when activist Coyotl Tezcalipoca, 25, refused to stop speaking after Mayor Allan Mansoor told him the public comment time had ended. He also refused a request by police officers that he leave the meeting.
On orders of Police Chief John Hensley, officers dragged a resisting Tezcalipoca outside. Television footage showed one officer placing him in a headlock.
Tezcalipoca, also known as Benito Acosta, was arrested for investigation of disrupting an assembly and obstructing an arresting officer, police said.
Before the meeting, activists massed outside, singing in Spanish and carrying hand-painted signs reading "Nobody Is Illegal" and "Mansoor Is a Bigot." The mayor proposed and voted for the plan to have local police enforce immigration laws, which is normally a federal responsibility.
Supporters of the plan shouted, "America is a nation of laws."
According to the 2000 census, 29 percent of the city's 108,000 residents were foreign born, and 66 percent of those were from Latin America.