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BP2: Lesson in Movement Building (Revised)

by MUDP Friday, Jul. 01, 2005 at 10:34 PM
ricardo@mudp.org (760) 451-1754

This is a revised version of the first article published, "Baldwin Park 2: A lesson in movement building"

Baldwin Park Round Two

A lesson in movement building and keeping the peace by

any means necessary

There was a lot riding on the event that happened this

last Saturday, June 25th. There was much more

activity going on aside from the presence of the

Minutemen/SOS in Baldwin Park. There was much more at

stake than simply protesting the Minutemen/SOS, and

that was to make a significant effort to control our

own event, our own protest, build our own movement and

to support the local organizers from the Baldwin Park

community in their own struggle.

Within our own demonstration, which was surrounded and

contained by an army of police and separated from the

Minutemen/SOS camp by approximately 100 yards we had

to be alert for anything that would disrupt the event

and allow the police (who were armed to the teeth with

assault rifles and much more) to repress our cultural

protest and our growing movement. We understand well

from the experience of the Chicano Movement that

repression on behalf of the police is almost always

instigated by “protesters” amongst the people, whether

they are paid police agents or just plain idiots who

don’t know what they are doing. We also understand

that repression on behalf of the state has been

effective in destroying movements and the people’s

fighting spirit and morale, especially when

organizations are not in a position to respond to

repression in an effective manner, either by legal or

other means. So as organizers of the event, and

especially as security personnel for the event, we had

to keep the peace by all means in order for this

movement to grow and to keep the men, women and

children who attended from being hurt, beaten or

gassed by the police.

Errors and Lessons from Baldwin Park 1

Due to the number of people who participated and the

lack of security for the event, Baldwin Park 1 was a

free for all event. Certain organizations, such as

the International Socialist Organization (ISO) and

others who attended broke unity with the event and

split the demonstrations into two factions. People

left the permitted protest area to confront the

Minutemen/SOS face to face and ultimately put the

entire event at risk of being called an “unlawful

assembly” and repressed by the police. Known agent

provocateurs such as Frank “Mohammed” Martinez,

dressed in Muslim garb were a part of this crowd and

eventually, some unknown person threw a water bottle

at the opposing side. This and other undisciplined

acts compromised the whole event, but luckily, there

was no further response either by the police or the

Minutemen/SOS. Our concern here is not so much for

the safety of the Minutemen/SOS, or a “fear” of the

police and their guns (which any unarmed person in

their right minds should have some fear of, especially

if you’re Mexican or African), but for the

working-class people from the community who brought

their babies and their children with them. Our

concern is for these people who have never come out

to protest anything before, who are outraged enough to

begin to take a political stance at this particular

moment and who we need to protect in order so that

they can come out again to the next meeting or other

political function. Our concern is for the future of

a movement we are trying to build which is the only

means we have to deal with people like the Minutemen

and the bigger problems we have and will continue to

have once they leave the scene.

Having learned from the errors of the first Baldwin

Park demonstration, the organizers of Baldwin Park

Round Two made the efforts to prevent these situations

from arising again. In order to create an environment

which will allow for the community to come out of

their homes and participate in this protest, the event

was organized as a cultural event with live music,

teatro and piñatas. It was agreed that since these

Minutemen/SOS fear or hate our culture, or languages

and our history so much, we would counter-protest them

with our culture, our languages and our history. This

would be an alternative to just yelling and screaming

at the Minutemen, which in fact, is what the

Minutemen/SOS expected and what they wanted from us.

They wanted us to yell and scream at them because they

are looking for this kind of attention. So instead,

the organizers became creative and used culture and

art to protest these lunatics. A team of artists, in

which renowned Chicana artist Judy Baca participated

with, created a powerful picket-sign display which

expressed the sentiments of much of what has been

discussed throughout these months of madness since the

Minutemen moved their lazy asses off their couches and

onto lawn chairs to observe “Meskins”. This would

take away the focus from their pathetic protest and

would reaffirm the value and the worth of our culture

to our community. This in fact was the most

revolutionary stance we could have taken this day and

is evident of new and meaningful tactics being used

which will allow for our movement to grow.

Also, a security team was formed with the combined

efforts of the Harmony Keepers and Mexicanos Unidos en

Defensa del Pueblo along with others and a permitted

protest area was designated and announced to everyone

with the cautionary note stating that should anyone,

or any group protest outside of the designated area,

they would be on their own and would no longer be a

part of the organized protest and if they were to

leave the area, they were not to not be allowed to

re-enter our demonstration. In other words, if they

were going to create a confrontation with the police,

they would deal with it themselves and would not bring

the community along with them.

Having set the terms for how the protest was going to

take place, the event had gone much calmer and

smoother than the previous one and allowed for a clear

line to be drawn between a disciplined and organized

demonstration versus any other type of demonstration

which only invites for agent provocateurs to do their

thing. As the culture and art took their place in the

event and took the focus away from the Minutemen a few

incidents took place which tested the emotions and the

discipline of the organizers and the protesters. On a

few occasions, Minutemen and SOS members deliberately

walked either through the permitted protest area or

very near by the area, occasionally animating the

crowd. Our security team was on the scene to tell the

police about these intruders and to calm down the

crowd in order to avoid confrontations.

Also, the ISO or so called “socialists” and their sub

organizations had decided, for reasons only known to

them, to disunite with a Mexican/Latino led event to

demonstrate on the other side of the taped-off area

which separated the permitted area of protest from the

non-permitted area. All they needed to do was step a

few feet to the right in order to be in the permitted

area, but again, for reasons only known to them, they

chose to be on their own and disunite with the

cultural demonstration. In a further show of disunity

and in an opportunistic manner they managed to pull

people out of our event and led a march toward the

police barricade, as if they were a part of the

demonstration and the coalition. Their attempt to

animate the few people from the community who joined

them did not last long, especially after our security

team, using a bullhorn, warned the people that anyone

on the other side of the tape was not in a permitted

area of protest and were on their own.

As if this form of disrespect wasn’t enough, they

again went back to the main area where the cultural

demonstration was taking place to get some more

people, and marched back to the same un-permitted

location. This time they had a few more people with

them. At first the police did not seem to react to

this situation, so we did not make a big deal out of

it either. But then it became apparent that the

police had called for back up, so once again, we

announced to them that anyone on the other side of the

tape was not in the permitted protest area, that these

people were instigators of illegal actions and that

they would only provoke a police confrontation. All

they needed to do was be on the other side of the

yellow tape to do the same thing they were doing, but

without putting people at risk. Apparently, most of

the people there weren’t ready for a confrontation

with the police, so the “socialists” were left

wandering around on their own. The fact that they

call themselves, “socialists” is a cruel joke because

if they truly had some type of socialistic

inclinations, they would unite with Mexican/Latino and

colonized people’s rights to self-determination and

would not attempt to factionalize and divide an event

in order to get people to join their protest. Since

they are pseudo-socialists, (or maybe they are sincere

but they don’t know what the hell they are doing) they

have no ability to recruit or mobilize the

Mexican/Latino community on their own, so they

parasitically survive off the work of other

organizations and eventually take the credit as if

they did the work themselves.

This has become even more evident in the articles and

summations that have come out after the June 25th

event, where these “leftist” organizations have not

given any mention or credit to the organizers of the

cultural protest. Not once have they been

self-critical and mentioned that they broke unity with

a Mexican/Latino led demonstration, nor do they give

any explanation as to why they behaved so

undisciplined and selfish. Furthermore, not once have

any of these “socialist” groups addressed the question

of this land being stolen Indian and Mexican land,

which is part of the reason why the SOS have a problem

with the monument, and which furthermore does not set

the ISO too far apart from the Minutemen on

ideological terms. Both groups are coming into our

communities to tell us what to do and what not to do

and neither are uniting with us on practical terms.

The so called “socialists” luckily left our event to

go play into the hands of the Minutemen/SOS by yelling

and screaming at them. What was ridiculous is that

when the Minutemen/SOS’s permit expired and they ended

their demonstration, these “socialists” came back to

our demonstration claiming that they “won” because

they stayed there longer than the SOS! These people

had no clue that the real battle was within the

Mexican/Latino led demonstration.

One final provocation took place which could only be

summed up as a clear attempt to sabotage the

demonstration and provoke a violent confrontation, and

not between us and the Minutemen, but between us and

the police. A Minutemen/SOS supporter (or very likely

a police agent) had again walked nearby our protest

area, at a time when the event was at its peak in

terms of the number of people who were in attendance.

This blue-eyed white male bearing a large American

flag hanging from a stick quietly walked by a crowd of

angry Chicanos and stood next to the police in the

same un-permitted area of protest where the

“socialists” had been an hour or so earlier. He did

not say a thing, he just walked by, and stood in one

place long enough for the angry young Chicanos to

gather around him and get even angrier. Our security

team had been escorting him out in order to prevent a

provocation, but since at this point he wasn’t

leaving, and the police weren’t doing anything about

it, we had formed a circle around him. This

Minutemen/SOS supporter/police agent stood right next

to a line of police, so that if someone would have

thrown an object, or tried to push or hit him, the

police were right there to come down on the people.

Using a bullhorn, one of our security members began

to inform the crowd that they must calm down and get

behind the yellow line. The security person informed

everyone about how this idiotic person was clearly

there to provoke an incident and cause for the police

to get involved. People then hesitantly began to back

away, while the rest of the security team began to

tell the rest of the crowd to move back.

After about 10 minutes of this, a fully armed platoon

of police dressed in riot gear, donning assault

rifles, shotguns and hand guns, arrived and placed

this person under arrest. They could have easily

taken this person across the police barricade and

carried him away without any further interruptions,

but they chose to parade him back along side of the

area where the main event was taking place. The angry

crowd of Chicanos, Mexicanos and other protestors

followed the police and the security team quickly

formed a buffer between the rifle yielding police and

the angry crowd. This was an intense moment,

especially being in the middle of it all, for as you

looked to your right, you literally saw assault rifles

and police with their fingers on the triggers almost

in your face, and on the other side the emotional

crowd of Chicanos and Mexicanos who could barely

contain their anger. We had to maintain the peace at

all costs. The European-American/Minutemen/SOS

supporter/police provocateur was eventually taken away

and the security team was quick to sum up this action

as a provocation by the state. The crowd was informed

in English and Spanish how important it was for us to

remain peaceful and disciplined, and that this person

was only trying to create an incident in which the

police would have a reason to end the event and keep

it from being successful. The fact that this incident

was conducted within the proximity of the

Mexican/Latino led protest and not where the

“socialists” had been at the time, testifies to the

importance of our protest in that they attempted to

cause our event to fail.

This incident was what tested the character, the

organization and the discipline of the entire event

and we met the challenge successfully. This is where

the victory occurred on Saturday, in that we were able

to maintain the peace and discipline by any means in

order for our people to struggle another day. The

biggest enemy we faced on Saturday was not the

Minutemen, nor the SOS, nor even the colonial state.

The hardest enemy to deal with is the internal enemy,

our lack of organization, our lack of discipline and

our lack of willingness to unite with other forces who

struggle for the same cause, which keeps us from

getting our shit together and which allows for the

state to do their job that much easier. We succeeded

in building and controlling our own movement.

Report this post as:

LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 7 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
TITLE AUTHOR DATE
"nationalist"? or liberal whiner? mayra Saturday, Jul. 02, 2005 at 4:52 PM
Response to ISO supporter Siqueiros Saturday, Jul. 02, 2005 at 9:50 PM
Baldwin Park 2: Statement of a Harmony Keeper Ixachilanca Sunday, Jul. 03, 2005 at 3:14 AM
Another View johnk Sunday, Jul. 03, 2005 at 4:47 AM
A Xican@ View Observer Sunday, Jul. 03, 2005 at 6:29 AM
I stand corrected johnk Monday, Jul. 04, 2005 at 12:20 AM

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