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Parks Board Sworn In; Controversy Continues

By Sylvia Maria Gross

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/kcur/local-kcur-597567.mp3

Kansas City, MO – The new appointees to Kansas City's Park Commission were sworn in yesterday, despite concerns about a new commissioner who is a member of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, an organization that targets illegal immigrants. The Mayor has defended his selection of the Northland Neighborhood leader Frances Semler. KCUR's Sylvia Maria Gross has more.

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Latino leaders who attended yesterday's swearing-in said they came to support John Fierro, the only returning commissioner. No one directly addressed the controversy. But Fierro, who'll be the first Latino to head the board, said a commitment to diversity will be one of his guiding principles.

FIERRO: We need to make sure that our park system is safe, that it's inclusive, and that it avoids any hatred to any of our customers utilizing our community centers, our parks, any of our system.

The Minutemen aim to stop illegal immigration on the border and elsewhere. They say they are not racist and don't target any particular ethnicity. Watch dog organizations have described them as a hate group. Semler, who is helping organize an immigration-related rally in Topeka this weekend, is being called on by some Latino leaders to resign from the board.

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