About 50 people protested in Martinez on Wednesday over the Contra Costa County sheriff’s decision to meet with newly confirmed U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
The protesters, who mostly came from advocacy group the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, said the meeting represented Sheriff David Livingston’s support for the Trump agenda.
“With Livingston’s collaborations with (Immigration and Customs Enforcement), what we are seeing is that he is the Trump in our own community,” Claudia Jimenez, a Richmond resident, said.
Jeff Sessions, who was confirmed as attorney general on Wednesday, met with several other county sheriffs from California. The former Alabama senator has been a leading voice against illegal immigration, roiling protesters who would like to see Contra Costa County become sanctuary territory.
In a statement to NBC Bay Area, Livingston said the meeting was to further public safety in the county, adding that he previously met with officials from the Obama administration.
“My meeting with Sessions was neither a political meeting nor an endorsement,” he said. “I did not offer him one nor did he ask.”
The two spoke about public safety and “the help the federal government can provide us to make our communities safe,” according to the statement.
The protesters rallied outside the sheriff's department shortly after noon and marched up to Livingston’s office, where they briefly chanted “We don’t play nice with ICE,” a reference to the department’s lucrative contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Their attempts to meet with an official were rebuffed, and they left peacefully, but not satisfied.
Martinez has been the site of several protests in recent days, including one on Tuesday regarding the expansion of the Richmond jail and another regarding the immigrations enforcement contract, in which the county holds undocumented immigrants in the jail at the behest of ICE. That contract, first revealed by East Bay Express, has brought long-simmering tensions between immigrant communities in the county and the sheriff's department to a boil.
“Our community doesn’t support that (collaboration),” Yaquelin Valencia, a Richmond resident, said. “(Livingston) doesn’t know what it’s like to be undocumented, he doesn’t know what it’s like to fear that a family member might not be here tomorrow, or that a 5-year-old might be left without a mother or a father.”
Alliance members plan to meet with Livingston later this month to discuss their fears.