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Old 01-27-2010, 02:32 AM
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Default Kellar stands by 'proud racist' remark

Kellar stands by 'proud racist' remark
By Susan Abram, Staff Writer
Posted: 01/26/2010 08:07:38 PM PST
Updated: 01/26/2010 08:43:10 PM PST
VALENCIA - An overflow crowd crammed into Santa Clarita City Hall Tuesday night, most to support a councilman who called himself a "proud racist" and others to condemn his words as hateful rhetoric.
Opposing demonstrators engaged in heated exchanges of name-calling, finger-pointing and American flag-waving prior to the city council meeting.
The demonstrations were sparked by comments from Councilman Bob Kellar, who called himself a "proud racist" during an anti-illegal immigration rally two weeks ago.
On Tuesday, Kellar said his words were taken out of context and that he abhorred racism.
"Racism is wrong and should never be tolerated," Kellar said.
But many opponents have seized on it as reflecting the true mindset of Kellar and other opponents of illegal immigration.
More than 150 people packed the council chambers, with the vocal majority applauding Kellar as he entered the room.
"It's about red, white and blue - not white, brown and black," said Robert Crooks, a Canyon Country resident and president of a local Minuteman chapter. "It's about America, we the people. We are not racists."
Supporters of Kellar held signs reading, for example, "Bob Kellar `patriotic hero'."
But other demonstrators representing immigrant-rights groups held signs that read "Fire `proud racist' Bob Kellar."
"People who share Kellar's views want to see immigrants in concentration camps," said Carlos Alvarez, representing
the immigrant rights group Answer Coalition.
"Black, Latino, Asian, whites - we are all struggling together. Immigrants are not the problem."
Before the meeting, Kellar released a new statement standing behind his remarks, but saying some people had taken them out of context.
"Some have called me a racist regarding this issue," Kellar said. "Let me be perfectly clear on that point: I am not a racist. I abhor racism in any form, shape or fashion.
"However, the issue on the table is illegals and the failure of our government at all levels to deal with this `issue.'
"I am an American, a proud one. And I believe it is time we stand behind our laws and the principles that have made this nation great."
He specifically condemned racism, saying he had witnessed it when he served in the U.S. Army in Mississippi in the 1960s and in later years as he worked as a police officer and Realtor in Santa Clarita.
Those who supported Kellar called him a hero, saying no other politician has stood up to "decry the massive impact of illegal immigration on our community."
Supporters on Tuesday night called on the city council to enforce laws against hiring undocumented laborers, especially those who stand on corners under "No Stopping Anytime" signs, "waiting to find jobs meant for Americans," as a local Minuteman group said.
And many also criticized Mayor Laurene Weste, and council members Marsha McLean, Frank Ferry, and Laurie Ender for not publicly supporting Kellar.
Kellar, who has served on the council for 10 years, made the remarks at a Jan. 16 rally in Santa Clarita, attended by anti-illegal immigration groups and posted on YouTube.
He first referred to a statement from President Theodore Roosevelt that said the United States only has room for one flag and one language. He said he had quoted it at a past city council meeting.
"The only thing I heard back from a couple of people was `Bob, you sound like a racist'," Kellar said.
"I said, `That's good. If that's what you think I am because I happen to believe in America. I'm a proud racist. You're darn right I am'."
The rally was attended by members of several groups that are against illegal immigration, including the Santa Clarita Valley Independent Minutemen.
Also speaking at the rally was Jamiel Shaw Sr., an African-American whose 17-year-old son was gunned down two years ago, allegedly by a 19-year-old illegal immigrant and gang member.
Shaw made remarks similar to Kellar's about illegal immigration, saying: "If this makes me a racist, then hey, I'm going to be the best one I can. It's not racist to be pissed off, and I'm a pissed-off dad. I miss my son."
Coincidentally, as Tuesday's rally was happening at City Hall, about three miles to the west a local group was presenting a play exploring immigrant issues and seeking to end discrimination.
Santa Clarita's Human Relations Forum was scheduled to present the play "Wheels" at the Rancho Pico Junior High School Auditorium as part of the city's "A Season of Diversity program."
The play explores the freedom, mobility and dreams associated with United States citizenship and "will offer perspective on immigration, as well as the privileges and responsibilities of United States citizenship," through the eyes of a Salvadorian-American youth named Oscar.
"The City's `A Season of Diversity' program is devoted to empowering community members to eliminate all forms of discrimination,' Mayor Weste said in a statement. "The Wheels compassion play helps achieve this goal by offering residents a compassionate view of the immigration experience through a young person's eye."
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