Kansas City, MO – The board of a Latino civil rights organization decided unanimously this weekend to move its 2009 annual conference away from Kansas City. National Council of La Raza board members say they followed the request of local affiliates, who had called for the resignation of a controversial city official. KCUR's Sylvia Maria Gross has more.
Parks Commissioner Frances Semler is a member of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, a group that patrols US borders and job sites to try and prevent illegal immigrants from entering and working in this country. Civil rights leaders and most of the city council began protesting Mayor Funkhouser's appointment in June. Funkhouser continues to support Semler's right to belong to the Minutemen, and says that it doesn't affect her work for the parks. National Council of La Raza President Janet Murguia, who's from Kansas City Kansas, said it's the Minutemen's tactics, not their advocacy, that she finds offensive.
MURGUIA: What the minutemen groups represent is extremist organizations that target people, rather than policy.
Losing the La Raza convention is expected to cost the city five to seven million dollars, and tourism officials are concerned that Kansas City will develop a reputation for intolerance. Officials at the NAACP have said they'll consider following suit and rescheduling their 2010 convention as well.