Sanctuary policy under review

A call by Mayor Gavin Newsom to change how city departments interpret San Francisco’s Sanctuary City Ordinance was set against a clash outside of City Hall that ended with two arrests.

The Minuteman Project, a group opposed to illegal immigration, originally billed the rally as an event to call for Newsom’s resignation after the mayor defended the policy of shielding illegal immigrants.

The ordinance became the target of national ridicule after federal authorities learned that juvenile felons weren’t being reported to immigration authorities.

Edwin Ramos, a 21-year-old who reportedly benefited from the policy as a youth, was charged with fatally shooting Tony Bologna and his two oldest sons in the Excelsior district, causing the sanctuary debate to come to a head.

Following an impassioned speech in his office Wednesday in which Newsom supported the spirit of the Sanctuary City Ordinance, the mayor said there would likely be changes in the way city departments interpret the ordinance.

“It’s time to review the Sanctuary City Ordinance,” Newsom said. “It has all gotten a little convoluted … and we need to tighten it up.”

City Administrator Ed Lee and Kevin Ryan, the head of the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, have been tasked with re-evaluating the protocols followed by all public safety and social services departments in The City in relation to the ordinance. That includes changes made orally, through memos and through a series of executive orders in the last 20 years.

Outside Newsom’s window, the raucous conflict continued. The gathering was intended to be small but escalated after the group Answer S.F. sent out e-mail alerts for a counter-demonstration the night before the rally.

“Cities all over the country are openly inviting illegal aliens to commit crime and San Francisco is the launching point for all of this,” Minuteman Project founder Jim Gilchrist said during the rally.

Michael Mulholland had flown in from Detroit to attend a labor-union gathering in The City when he heard about the demonstration. He equated the Minutemen to racists and chanted slogans for them to get off the steps of City Hall.

“The Minutemen don’t show up in Michigan,” Mulholland said. “We have a similar problem, though. They’re called neo-Nazis.”

One person was arrested on charges of battery on a sheriff’s deputy and another for throwing a glass container with caustic liquid inside, police Sgt. Wilfred Williams said.

bbegin@sfexaminer.com

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