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Immigrant-rights group vows legal action over Santa Clarita councilman's 'I'm a proud racist' remark

February 8, 2010 | 12:23 pm

Immigrant-rights activists said they plan to take legal action against a Santa Clarita councilman, who they say has refused to apologize for declaring himself a “proud racist” and has not been censured by fellow council members.

Leaders of the Los Angeles-based Full Rights for Immigrants Coalition said Monday they plan to go to court to force the city of Santa Clarita to discipline Bob Kellar, whom they described as a “rogue councilman” and a “poster boy for divisiveness.”

The controversy stems from a Jan. 16 anti-illegal-immigration rally in Santa Clarita, where Kellar, a veteran councilman and two-time mayor, spoke. In his speech, Kellar referred to a statement by former President Theodore Roosevelt that the United States has a place for only one flag and only one language.

Kellar, a former LAPD officer, said those remarks caused some people to accuse him of being racist, to which he replied that if believing in America causes people to think he's a racist, "then I'm a proud racist."

The councilman has said that he stands by his remarks, which he said have been misconstrued. Kellar insisted that he abhors racism. Scores of Santa Clarita residents packed the council chambers last month to voice support for Kellar.

Opponents charge that Kellar violated the city’s ethics code by not making clear that his remarks were personal and that he was not representing the city council.

“Comprehensive immigration reform provides a pathway forward; the Bob Kellars of this world would lead us down a dark pathway back to our troubling racist past,” Robert Gittelson, a member of the Full Rights for Immigrants Coalition, said in a statement.

-- Ann M. Simmons