The office of Santa Barbara’s daily newspaper was attacked late Wednesday night with graffiti and shots from a paintball gun in response to a headline referring to undocumented workers as “illegals,” reports the Santa Barbara Independent.
The Santa Barbara News-Press, which has a contentious history in the quiet seaside community since its purchase in 2000, recently published a story about a new California law allowing undocumented workers to apply for driver’s licenses, under the headline: “Illegals Line Up for Driver’s Licenses.”
Local activists objected to the headline as racist and defaced the headquarters of the paper late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning, spray-painting, “The border is illegal, not the people who cross it” and “Fight back,” with a smiley face underneath it. The building also was shot several times with a paintball gun, and had website addresses, Imaginenoborders.org and Nooneisillegal.org” scrawled upon it.
In a statement, News-Press Director of Operations Donald Katich said: “It has been the practice for nearly 10 years at the Santa Barbara News-Press to describe people living in this country illegally as ‘illegals’ regardless of their country of origin. This practice is under fire by some immigration groups who believe that this term is demeaning and does not accurately reflect the status of ‘undocumented immigrants,’ one of several terms other media use to describe people in the Unites States illegally. … It is an appropriate term in describing someone as ‘illegal’ if they are in this country illegally.”
Thursday night approximately 70 to 100 protesters met in front of the building, with local activist Anthony Rodriguez criticizing the newspaper’s policy.
“That word is ridiculous. Uncalled for. You need to understand we don’t degrade people. We’re all human beings,” Rodriguez said.
The News-Press has had a troubled history since its purchase in 2000 by wealthy socialite Wendy McCaw.
In 2006, more than half the newsroom resigned, with a former editor complaining that McCaw purchased the paper as “a mouthpiece for her own views.”
The resulting furor led to many businesses and locals boycotting the paper.
Watch video of the protest from KEYT below: