Written by Dyana Bagby
Tuesday, 17 May 2011 01:57
Lesbian-owned Charis Books & More is the first Atlanta business to sign on as a Buy Spot and Sanctuary Zone to protest Gov. Nathan Deal's recent signing of the controversial immigration bill HB 87.
"We are agreeing to be noncompliant," programming director Elizabeth Anderson told CBS Atlanta on May 16. Deal signed the bill into law on Friday, May 13.
Buy Spots and Sanctuary Zones are being organized by a new group called We Are Georgia that is part of a movement including the Somos Georgia Campaign, the Georgia Latino Human Rights Alliance and the LGBT group Southerners On New Ground.
As a BuySpot and Sanctuary zone, Charis and others in the group will hang flyers in their windows and have the goals of:
• Procuring specific commitments from business owners, community organizations and places worship grounded in a shared commitment to universal human rights;
• Galvanizing community development and cohesion, through developing connections between members of the network and the organized alliances of neighborhood business owners and sanctuary spaces.
"We want people to know that Charis is a safe haven for all folks and that we do not agree with HB 87," Charis co-owner Angela Gabriel told the GA Voice.
Anderson explained that as part of being a Buy Spot and Sanctuary Zone, Charis Books & More in Little 5 Points will offer a safe haven to people who need a place to go, will offer their space for organizers who are working to overturn the law as well as urging their customers to not shop at stores that are not BuySpot and Sanctuary Zones.
Southerners on New Ground and the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force joined Latino and labor organizations as well as other human rights groups in calling for a national boycott of Georgia if Deal signed the bill into law.
The NGLTF sent a letter to Gov. Deal last month asking him to veto the bill and informing him that if he signed the bill into law, its annual Creating Change conference planned for Atlanta in 2013 would be located in another state.
The law requires employers with more than 10 employees to use the federal E-verify system to determine if employees are in the country legally and also authorizes law enforcement to ask for proof of citizenship when they find a situation warrants it. The law has been dubbed by some opponents as the "Show me your papers" law.
The sponsor of HB 87, state Rep. state Rep. Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City), said the legislation would "protect citizens from an unlawful burden on taxpayer-funded services by requiring the use of only secure and verifiable identification documents for any official purpose, including the dispensation of public benefits."
Charis, the Southeast's oldest feminist independent bookstore, recently announced plans to create the Charis Feminist Center.
Top photo: Protesters gathered at a 'Rally for Truth' at the Georgia State Capitol on March 24 to oppose HB 87. (by Dyana Bagby)