By Richard D. Iyall
On Oct. 7, a political rally at California State University, Bakersfield, featured Vice President Joe Biden. State Senator Alex Padilla (D–Pacoima), candidate for California secretary of state, and Amanda Renteria, candidate for U.S. Congress District 21, were the primary California-based participants. The event was reportedly paid for by the Renteria campaign.
Other speakers included Nicole Villaruz, chair of the Kern County Democratic Party; Andres Chavez, grandson of Cesar Chavez; John “Bowzer” Bauman, who was a member of the rock ’n’ roll group Sha Na Na; Chris Parker, candidate for the California Board of Equalization District 1; and Suzanna Aguilera-Marrero (“Sam”), candidate for U.S. Congress District 22. VIP tickets printed by Friends of Renteria were required for admission, for which there was no charge.
Due to the appearance of the Vice President, the Secret Service monitored the entry of all attendees. Although this reporter, a volunteer journalist/photographer for the Community Alliance newspaper with a press pass, had given his personal information to his hostess, Susan McCall Carrasco, a campaign consultant, there was still some difficulty in gaining admission as a member of the media.
Once inside the building and escorted to the area set aside for the media, an escort by a volunteer was required for a trip to the restroom, then back to the media area. A man who identified himself as Val Sanders, “press guy for the Vice President,” was courteous and gave his cell phone number, in case there was a need to get hold of him. That was assuring.
This event was a political rally. There was no debate. There were no questions taken from the public. There were no protests. There was no presentation of any opposing views. It was an event geared to motivate attendees to be more committed to participate in the political process, especially in support of the candidates and platform of the Democratic Party.
Vice President Biden gave a passionate speech lasting 45–50 minutes. He spoke strongly in favor of the “middle class” and of Hispanics. He even spoke strongly in support of the 11 million people who are reported to be in the United States without proper documentation. He made the point that those people are Americans. That is a strong statement, especially coming from the second in command of our federal government.
For someone with many ancestors who were indigenous to this continent, and indeed to an area of this continent currently controlled by the federal government, that is an assuring statement. It was this reporter’s grandfather, Frank A. Iyall, delegate for the Cowlitz Tribe of Indians of the State of Washington, who wrote the wording for the bill known as the Snyder Act, which was the first law giving indigenous people of this country citizenship. That was the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, signed by President Calvin Coolidge.
Indigenous people deserve to be on this continent. It was the violent, oppressive, discriminatory and genocidal acts of people who came to this continent from Europe that took away many lives, cultural and spiritual practices and freedoms of the peoples who are indigenous to the land, as well as controls of the sacred land itself. May the words of the man who is second in command of this country be supported by the actions of the country to help indigenous peoples and all others who reside here to regain justice and freedom.
Many thanks go to Aguilera-Marrero for her organization of a caravan to the rally, of which this reporter was a guest, and to Carrasco for the ride, assistance and company.
Richard D. Iyall is a journalist/photographer for the Community Alliance newspaper.