Wednesday 12 May 2010

City of Los Angeles Boycotts Arizona

Arizona is reportedly facing a boycott by the city of Los Angeles over its new laws on antiquity dealing and collecting. The City Council voted 13-1 to bar Los Angeles from conducting business with Arizona unless the law is repealed. The LA council today banned most city travel to the state and future contracts with Arizona companies, reports the Los Angeles Times. Current contracts worth $58 million—many at LAX or the Port of Los Angeles—were spared but will be reviewed. During debate, council members tossed around comparisons to Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. The vote followed an emotional council discussion during which many members noted that their ancestors were U.S. immigrants from the Old World and had as much right to collect antiquities from those source countries as anyone else.

The fuss is about new laws on the posession of antiquities, set to take effect July 29, which requires police enforcing another law to question a person about the status of any archaeological artefacts that may be in their posession if there is "reasonable suspicion" that these objects arrived in the state of Arizona from illegal sources and makes it a state crime to posess such illegally obtained artefacts. Several lawsuits brought by collectors seeking to block its implementation are pending in U.S. District Court in Phoenix. Some polls have shown strong popular support for the Arizona law and collectors are concerned that other states may follow up with their own versions.

“As an American, I could not collect artefacts in Arizona today without keeping paperwork on the origins of the objects I own", said a Councilman who is an avid collector of ancient coins. Antiquity dealer Alfonso Dedu Lafrey called this approach un-American, he argues that the "innocent until proven guilty principle" is the foundation of the freedoms that are the constitutional right of all Americans. "If I come across an officer who’s having a bad day and feels that the documentation in my stock room is inadequate I could be faced with a court appearance or worse. This should not be happening in America".

Local collector Crave Felsh says: “Los Angeles is the second-largest city in this country, a multicultural city, an international city. It needs to have its voice heard". He says he will do everything he can to mobilise other Californian antiquity dealers to oppose these measures, fighting them throught the courts.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said the boycotts are unfortunate and misguided, primarily because the law mirrors a federal requirement that legal owners of such objects be able to document that they come from legal sources before trading in them. "It's already the law in the United States, and I have a responsibility to stand up and protect the people of Arizona and we will do that," Brewer said Tuesday. Charges that the law will lead to persecution of collectors are "just pure rhetoric," Brewer said. "I find it really interesting that we have people out there that are attempting a boycott in favor of illegal actions in Arizona. That to me is just unbelievable".
[This by the way is satire. US no-questions-asked antiquity collectors claim that it is un-American to consider antiquities on the market without documentation of earlier existence above-ground as potentially freshly looted. They claim that the principle innocent until proven guilty (which they represent as exclusively an American idea) means that the "burden of proof" is on the "accuser" rather than the "innocent purchaser" of such material who does not question too deeply. They suggest that those of us who are not Mer'kins cannot understand that in the USA anything goes until guilt is proven. The Arizona immigrant law however seems to be an exception to this, suggesting that the collectors are using special pleading to attempt to justify that which is increasingly looking difficult to justify].

1 comment:

Damien Huffer said...

Bloody brilliant, Paul! That's more or less my State's politics right now...sigh.

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