Re: [Stop-traffic] News/US: Berkeley boycotts eatery of landlord charged in sex,labor scandal

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Subject: Re: [Stop-traffic] News/US: Berkeley boycotts eatery of landlord charged in sex,labor scandal
From: Phil Marshall (phil.marshall@un.or.th)
Date: Sun Jan 07 2001 - 22:20:40 EST


Hi Everyone

Whatever happened to the idea of being innocent until proven guilty? While I
abhor the behaviour of slave-traders, I'm not convinced this sort of action by
city councils is any kind of solution. On a related point, I also think we
need to be careful with a 'goodies and baddies' worldview. In this part of the
world, the trafficked victims that we all feel so sorry for today all too often
become the traffickers that we will demonise tomorrow.

Cheers

Phil

Melanie Orhant wrote:

> Berkeley boycotts eatery of landlord charged in sex, labor scandal
> By Tony Hicks
> Contra Costa Times, December 21, 2000
>
> BERKELEY, Calif. -- The city has officially endorsed a boycott of the
> Indian restaurant owned by Lakireddy Bali Reddy, the Berkeley landlord
> accused of importing girls from his native India for cheap labor and sex.
>
> The City Council voted 7-2 Tuesday to join the boycott of Pasand Madras
> Indian Cuisine that was launched months ago by Women Against Sexual
> Slavery, an advocacy group that often pickets outside the Shattuck Avenue
> restaurant.
>
> Councilwomen Polly Armstrong and Miriam Hawley dissented.
>
> "I would feel more comfortable waiting for the courts to make a decision,"
> said Hawley.
>
> Reddy, 63, and four family members are accused of conspiring to commit
> immigration fraud. Between October 1986 and January 2000, the five
> relatives allegedly brought 33 people into the country illegally.
>
> Reddy and his son, 31-year-old Vijay Kumar Lakireddy, face the most serious
> charges, which include allegations of importing two South Indian girls for
> sex with Reddy.
>
> Armstrong called the charges "heinous," but cautioned colleagues not to
> punish innocent people.
>
> "The flip side is, how many (restaurant) jobs might be lost by people who
> had nothing to do with the crimes," Armstrong said. "As far as I know, the
> entire families of these people were not involved."
>
> Prasad Lakireddy, 42, who runs the restaurant and is included in the
> allegations, said Wednesday he wasn't aware of the council's decision.
>
> "I don't know what to say_I'm shocked," he said. "We have a right to due
> process and we should not be treated unfairly."
>
> The allegations came to light about a year ago as police investigated the
> death of a pregnant 17- year-old girl who died from carbon monoxide fumes
> from a faulty wall heater in one of the estimated 1,000 units Reddy owns in
> Berkeley.
>
> The girl was one of two sisters Reddy allegedly imported for sex.
>
> Mayor Shirley Dean said she understood Armstrong and Hawley's arguments.
> But a pending plea deal revealed in October clinched it for her.
>
> "The patriarch of the family is willing and ready to plead guilty," she
> said. "That kind of changes it for me. That makes me say 'Don't support
> this restaurant.' "
>
> The plea deal, however, may not be as firm as earlier thought. Court
> documents filed this week show that Prasad Lakireddy decided earlier this
> month that he no longer wants to plead guilty. Assistant U.S. Attorney John
> Kennedy told a federal judge on Tuesday that it was an "all-or-no deal." A
> new court date has been set for February.
>
> Reddy and Vijay Lakireddy are free on bail. The other three family members
> are part of the plea deal but have not been indicted.
>
> Prasad Lakireddy said business has remained slow since the boycott started,
> but is rebounding.
>
> "We have a lot of regular customers who say, 'We want to make a choice on
> our own,' " he said.
>
> Dean said there is nothing binding about the city's support for the
> boycott. The city won't force its employees to avoid the restaurant and
> won't actively participate in the boycott.
>
> The city has supported boycotts of other businesses within its borders. In
> fact, the council lifted one such boycott Tuesday against the Radisson
> Hotel, after the hotel reached a labor agreement with employees.
>
> But Dean said the city has never made such a statement against a business
> owner for alleged criminal activities.
>
> "This is new territory," said Dean. "It's a statement about what happened."
>
> Melanie Orhant
> Stop-Traffic Moderator
>
> Please contact me off-list for any questions about Stop-Traffic at
> <<morhant@igc.org>>.
>
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