Twitter is known as a place where users can air their grievances, and occasionally even call for boycotts. Today, December 1st, is no exception. The hashtag #BoycottSanFrancisco began trending as conservatives expressed anger over undocumented immigrants.
The online outrage came after a 45-year-old undocumented Mexican immigrant named Jose Ines Garcia Zarate was found not guilty of the murder of a woman named Kate Steinle. Zarate allegedly shot and killed Steinle on July 1st, 2015 on a San Francisco pier. His lawyers argued that Steinle’s death was an accident, stating that a bullet fired from Zarate’s gun ricocheted and hit her. Zarate had been deported from the U.S. five times before the incident.
During his campaign, President Donald Trump often used Steinle’s death as a rational for the deportation of illegal immigrants. Her killing has also been used to create harsher immigration laws. In June, the House of Representatives passed a bill called “Kate’s Law,” which makes it more difficult for immigrants charged with felonies to re-enter the country.
Steinle’s death also ignited a call for the end of sanctuary cities like San Francisco, where local police don’t have to report undocumented immigrants to immigration authorities unless they are guilty of serious crimes. Steinle’s death and the recent verdict have been used to call for the end of sanctuary city programs.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions wrote in a statement:
Trump took to Twitter to condemn the jury’s decision. He called the verdict “disgraceful” and once again used Steinle’s death to champion deporting illegal immigrants and building the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
Other Twitter users on both sides weighed in too, and the hashtag #BoycottSanFrancisco was soon trending. Conservatives expressed anger at the ruling and called to end sanctuary cities and boycott San Francisco.
But liberal users argued that a boycott of San Francisco over the results of a single verdict makes little sense. Many also noted that the outrage over Steinle’s death ignores the fact that most murders in the U.S. are committed by American citizens. And some compared the outrage over Zarate’s acquittal to the silence over the acquittal of men like George Zimmerman, who shot Trayvon Martin.
Steinle’s death is a tragedy. But cutting federal funding to hundreds of sanctuary cities or punishing all immigrants for the actions of one man is not going to solve anything. We support Steinle’s loved ones during this difficult time, and we also support immigrants — most of whom contribute to our society in countless ways. It doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive.