Tensions surrounding a two-week-old protest over migrant workers who live in McGonigle Canyon continue to simmer, with two of the city’s top officials becoming targets of opposing sides in the local immigration debate.

During an interview before the protests, Council President Scott Peters said he was hoping to ratchet down the rhetoric that surrounds the migrants. But earlier today, conservative AM radio talk show host Rick Roberts posted a message on his blog calling Peters the “Plantation Master of the slums of McGonigle Canyon.”

Yes, that’s a reference to the antebellum South.

Roberts was responding to comments that Peters made last week blaming Roberts, the Minutemen and a small group of vocal residents for stirring things up at the migrant shantytown, which falls in Peters’ district. Peters said he didn’t think that a large part of the general community was concerned about the migrants.

Here’s a taste of what Roberts wrote today:

So Master Peters, the reason you have kept a filthy, illegal alien Shantytown, in the middle of a taxpaying affluent neighborhood is because the neighbors just don’t care???!!!

Are you kidding me … or just yourself?

How much are the big business slave employers pulling your strings??? Did D.R. Horton or Pardee contribute to your campaigns??? Are the people that clean your house living in that canyon???

Pam Hardy, Peters’ spokeswoman, said the council president isn’t distracted by name calling and is interested in substantive solutions that protect the migrants and the community. “Mr. Roberts likes to talk about illegal immigration because it makes the phones ring on his radio show,” Hardy said.

Meanwhile, it seems that migrant-friendly human rights workers are not very happy with Mayor Jerry Sanders, who appeared on Roberts show the day before the protests. The activists say the mayor lent credibility to the event and are planning a prayer vigil outside City Hall.

Among other things, the group plans to “ask Mayor Sanders to withdraw his support for vigilante and hate groups in our communities” and “demand humane treatment of workers including housing and protection of their human rights,” according to an event flyer.

They’re also circulating a related letter among San Diego’s religious and community leaders. “I think that anyone that knows Jerry Sanders’ service to this community over the past 30 years would find that as inconsistent,” said Fred Sainz, the mayor’s spokesman.

Sanders has urged respect for the migrants who live in the canyon and spoke on Roberts’ program in an effort to express his position, not to lend the protest any credibility, Sainz said. During the program, the mayor credited Roberts with forcing action on the issue, but he did not endorse or denounce the protests.


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