Gitmo to Berkeley Proposal Gets Vote Tonight

Idea approved, but not implemented on East Coast

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Here's an explanation of the proposal to bring two men from Guantanamo Bay to Berkeley. (Published Tuesday, Feb 15, 2011)

    The "only in Berkeley" idea to invite Guantanamo Bay detainees to come live and work in the East Bay city is supposed to get a vote Tuesday by the Berkeley City Council.

    If approved, the proposal would invite two of the 38 detainees already cleared of wrongdoing to come and make Berkeley their new home.

    The resolution is proposed by the city's Peace and  Justice Commission. It states "the city has a  longstanding policy in support of peace and justice, including previously  welcoming refugees from other countries who unjustly suffered imprisonment,  torture and related traumatic experiences."

    The San Francisco Chronicle identified the two as a Russian ballet dancer named Ravil Mingazov and an Algerian chef named Djamel Ameziane. The Center for Constitutional Rights says neither man was charged with a crime and both were tortured during their time at Gitmo.

    Critics fear that even if they were innocent, they could have become radicalized during their time behind bars.

    The two men would live with a local family. They would get help from nonprofits so they could find work and integrate into life in the Bay Area. No money from the city's general fund would be used. A city in Massachusetts approved a similar measure in 2009, but the invitees were never released.

    The Associated Press reports both men are still at Guantanamo, adding congress is restricting the transfer of detainees from Guantanamo to the United States.

    NBC Bay Area's Jodi Hernandez will attend the council meeting and let us know what happens.