Hitler Remark Leads To Closed-Door Meeting

Latino and Jewish leaders meet to discuss grievances

Santa Ana Mayor Pro Tem Claudia Alvarez called Thursday's closed-door meeting, making it an invitation-only event.

Anyone who wanted to watch the community forum had to do it online, as Jewish and Latino leaders tried to educate one another about racism.

The controversy stems from a two year downtown redevelopment project. Alvarez claims the area used to cater to Hispanics. She accused landlords Irv and Ryan Chase of forcing Latino businesses out of the area.

The disagreement got pretty testy at an Aug. 24 meeting.

"So, Hitler rents you a place for cheap and you don’t care what he represents," she said at the meeting. "We’ve got to stop this."

She later apologized, but those who were most offended called for her to resign. Irv and Ryan Chase are Jewish.

"We see anti-Semitism in the new immigrant community," said Kevin O'Grady of the Anti-Defamation League. "For us, that's an issue."

Santa Ana is 85 percent Hispanic. Some city leaders think developers are trying to change the face of the downtown area.

"For someone to dictate what products they can sell or who their clientele might be to me is just wrong, said Planning Commissioner Sean Mills.

Archer Altstaetter works for Irv and Ryan Chase. He said they're upgrading and investing in their buildings, without any malice toward anyone.

"It’s no different than the Irvine Company or any other retailer in a mall saying hey, if your stores are not clean, you're out," said Altstaetter.

Alvarez had no comment on the meeting, other than to say that it's the beginning, and not the end, of a dialogue that was needed.

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