Glendale: Jornaleros Victorous!

by Leslie Sunday, Dec. 11, 2005 at 8:50 PM

Anti-racist, anti-fascist groups and individuals came together in Glendale in a mighty display of cooperation and support for day laborers and to shut down a weakened Save Our State.

Glendale: Jornaleros...
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Joe Turner arrested

GLENDALE, December 10, 2005--Seventy-five determined day laborers with 150 allies defended their brethren at the Glendale Temporary Skilled Worker Center this morning from a protest by Save Our State, a San Bernardino-based anti-migrant group. SOS had called the demonstration to turn public sympathy against the workers, but only managed to bring out about twenty supporters. SOS was overwhelmed in the sea of counterprotestors, and passing motorists along the busy San Fernando Road throughway honked their support for the jornaleros throughout the morning.

The only violence of the day resulted in the arrest of Joseph Turner for misdemeanor assault after he forcefully pushed a protestor. He was led away by police at 8:20 a.m.

When Save Our State members began appearing at 8:00 a.m., they were met by day laborers and contractors, organized by Instituo de Educacion Popular Del Sur De California (IDEPSCA), already spread along the east side of San Fernando Road in front of Home Depot. Mexica Movement stood in formation on the west side in front of the Day Labor Center. Glendalian supporters of the migrant workers were joined by anti-racist groups from around Los Angeles County and as far away as San Diego, including Anti-Racist Action, Gente Unida, Radical Women, the Southern California Human Rights Network, the International Socialist Organization, and La Tierra es de Todos.

A dozen officers from the Glendale police department, which co-sponsor the day labor center, kept protestors on the sidewalk. Eight green-hatted Lawyers Guild legal observers kept watch, and a few reporters chiefly interviewed members of Save Our State.

The counterprotestors' early positioning forced SOS to the northeast corner of San Fernando and Harvard, where they were surrounded by their opposition. Without leadership, SOS clustered in groups of two's and three's, and faced a steady onslaught of "SOS, KKK, nazi scum, go away," "Racists go home," and angry confrontations. One SOS member took a Schwarzenegger-esque muscleman pose, folded his arms, and jumped up and down in what was apparently intended to be an offensive ploy. Another crossed to the west side of the road, pretended to telephone his mother for help, and sang an impromptu song asking the counterprotestors to buy him a boat. A lone SOS member made his way south to the Home Depot parking lot, where he tried to hand out anti-migrant flyers to Home Depot customers, but a legal observer quickly notified a police officer, and the leafletter was left holding a bagful of flyers for the rest of the morning.

When requested to stop blocking sidewalk traffic, the jornaleros quickly formed a picket line with people posted at each end and calling "¿Qué queremos?" The picketers responded, "¡Justicia!" "¿Quando?" "¡Ahora!" Celebrating their victory, a trio sang labor songs accompanied by a guitar, a small drum, and an accordion. A representative of the jornaleros remarked, "This is our fight. We will be here to fight it."

Home Depot workers looked on from the parking lot. One person rolled a shopping cart of water and snacks through the crowd.

Before the eleventh hour, the scheduled end of SOS's protest, had struck, SOS had disappeared to their cars in a parking lot off Harvard and sped away down San Fernando Road, presumably back to their middle-class neighborhoods.

SOS, which had predicted they would be outnumbered two to one, were overwhelmed by the better than then to one showing. Their poor turnout reflects ongoing fissions within Save Our State's ranks, their failure to garner broad support for their agenda, and the ongoing counterprotests that have repeatedly impeded their efforts. SOS has, over the past year, demonstrated at day laborers in Los Angeles and Orange counties and twice protested an artwork in Baldwin Park. On two occasions, SOS was joined by neo-nazis waving swastika-emblazoned banners. Turner has been deemed too violent even for the minutemen ever since his call last January to "Bring your bats fellas, if we’re lucky, we’re gonna need them...PING!"