SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, January 7, 2006--In a massive outburst of anger and
frustration at the minutemen, activists across Southern California
found their local day labor hiring center and joined with day laborers to shut down the minutemen's
"Stop the Invasion" national day of protest against immigration.
Fifteen groups and hundreds of activists, mostly young and of Indigenous or
Mexican descent, teamed
up with migrant workers at six locations across the San Diego, Orange, and Los Angeles Counties,
where the minutemen had determined to
hold "secret" protests. As in the rest of the U.S., the activists
handily outnumbered the minutemen.
During warmer months the minutemen undertake armed surveillance to intercept
border crossers, but, unwilling to suffer winter in the desert, the minutemen
have shifted their focus to day laborers for the season. Brought together
by the specter of the minutemen inflicting further outrage on Mexican laborers,
an ideological mix of anti-racist, anti-colonization, and pro-labor groups coordinated to expose the minutemen's
plans and organize a united counterprotest.
With messages like "No Human Is Illegal" and "Racists Go
Home," day laborers and their allies yelled and jeered at the minutemen,
waved their signs at passing motorists, and succeeded in protecting the jornaleros
from the predominantly white, middle-aged, and middle-class onslaught on
Participants included the National
Day Laborers Organizing Network, the Pico Youth and Family Center, the
Pomona Day Labor Center, La Comité pro democracia de Mexico, Mothers for Justice,
Colectivo Tonatzin, La Tierra es de Todos,
Human Rights Network,
Answer-LA, Latinos Unidos, the International
Socialist Organization, CARECEN, Red de vigilancia contra cazamigrantes, gente
unida, and fed up individuals from across southern California.
Santa Monica Bourget Brothers Hardware
Teach Your Children Hate" by Ixachilanka for a moving and detailed
Glendale Home Depot
One counterprotestor arrested in repeat showdown
In a fierce confrontation, a hundred and twenty anti-racists stood toe-to-toe
with twenty Save Our State members. As they did a month ago, counterprotestors lined up at 7:30 a.m. on San Fernando Rd., with Home
Depot on the north side and the Glendale Temporary Skilled Labor Center on the
south, to oppose Save Our State. Counterprotestors from Mexica Movement,
the International Socialist Organization (ISO), CARECEN, Answer-LA,
Latinos Unidos, and the National Day Laborers Organizing Network easily
surrounded the twenty members of Save Our State.
A dozen police stood by, refusing to separate the two sides in spite of
requests from leaders in both camps, as the counterprotestors and SOS hurled
demands and insults at each other. The tension in the groups
increased palpably with the arrival of the leader of SOS at 9:15 a.m. He
no sooner arrived than he rushed through the crowd, ignoring his supporters, and
crossed the street, avoiding the more vocal protestors. There he goaded Mexica Movement, who, as last time, stood on the south side of the road
in a determinedly disciplined line, holding signs denouncing white colonization
and genocide of the Anahuac nation. While most SOS members seemed content
with waving U.S. flags above signs demanding "Racists Go Home," the
SOS leader repeatedly crossed the street to confront Mexica Movement and was
repeatedly rebuffed and sent back to the northeast corner. By 10:15, the
repeated provocations resulted in a scuffle, and one Indigenous counterprotestor
was arrested on a misdemeanor battery charge. He was later released on his
The day laborers looked on from the center with a mixture of anger and
concern, as their very existence was fought out on the street in front of
them. SOS has been making monthly unannounced forays to the center to
discourage employers from hiring the jornaleros.
Save Our State had attempted to derail the counterprotest indicating that
their "secret" protest would be in Alhambra, but the counterprotestors
Lake Forest Ganahl Lumber
Day laborers join counterprotest, minutemen refuse work
Seventy jornaleros and six members of gente unida and Tonantzin
Colectivo faced off against eleven members of Minutemen Making a Difference
on the southeast and southwest corners of El Toro Road and Jeronimo Road.
Lake Forest has been the most recent point of attack by minutemen. Two
weeks ago, minutemen convinced the manager of a local shopping center to file trespassing charges and
have the police remove the trabajadores from the property, with
sporadic enforcement since. Last
week, minuteman leader Jim
Gilchrist of Aliso Viejo traveled to Lake Forest and begged the city council to to crack down on day laborers in their city.
The day laborers in Lake Forest reported that people posing as employers had
been inviting them to work, transporting them some distance from the day labor
sites, asking for green cards, and, when the workers didn't provide them, abandoning
the workers on the side of the road to make their way back to town.
In response to the attacks, the workers joined in the counterprotest, raising
signs against the minutemen and shouting them down. An activist brought a 2' x 4' sign that read "Heil
Gilchrist" and signs for the laborers. She stood on the corner with her message and a Nazi salute for
Although the minutemen managed to frighten off a few employers with their
protest, most ignored the extremists and found the labor they needed. Some
employers went so far as to ask the minutemen to work for them, but the minutemen consistently
By the end of the rally, about fifty day laborers had been hired. The minutemen tried to explain to some of those remaining that the
workers were being "exploited."
Lake Forest is a favorite location for long-term day laborers, many of whom
have left the Laguna Beach Day Labor Center, where the rotation schedule
prevents them from establishing ongoing work relationships with employers.
Laguna Beach Day Labor Center
Gilchrist seen but not heard
With Minuteman Project leader and failed Congressional candidate Jim
Gilchrist firmly in the rear, twenty-five minutemen faced thirty-five
sharp-witted and sharp-tongued counterprotestors across Laguna Canyon Road, in front of the Laguna Beach day
labor center. One counterprotestor challenged Gilchrist, but he refused to
engage, instead pulling out his cell phone to make a call.
The day before the protest Gilchrist had posted a diversionary email
indicating that he would be at the Mexican consulates in Los Angeles and Santa
Ana during the nationwide protests, but spotters at the consulates and in Laguna
Beach made sure counterprotestors weren't distracted.
Red de vigilancia contra cazamigrantes, the Tonantzin
Colectivo, and straight-edge
anarchists traded barbs with the minutemen from South
Orange County Citizens for Immigration Reform, stopping traffic along the busy
Laguna Beach busy throughway. The minutemen resorted to personal attacks on
the counterprotestors' appearance, and the mostly under-30 counterprotestors
retorted by mocking the minutemen's age and asking why their children weren't
with them. The minutemen tried to beguile the white anarchists, but the
young people steadfastly held their anti-racist ground with sharp rebuttals.
Once a Save Our State stronghold, it appears that the Minuteman Project has
claimed the Laguna Beach turf for themselves, since Gilchrist's Congressional
defeat in December.
The day laborers, unhappy at seeing a well-known Mexican-descent woman on the minutemen's
side, tried to explain to the woman that she was betraying her ethnicity, but
she was unmoved, responding only with diatribes and anti-Mexican sentiments.
The woman had brought her two young daughters, whose parting gestures to
counterprotestors suggested they were learning their mother's hate-filled lesson.
laborers told activists they were grateful for the support, adding that they
would be happy to have green cards if they were available. Currently, the
U.S. limits green card permissions to work in the United States to 140,000
applicants, forcing 300,000 or more migrants to enter the country each year
without hope of documentation.
El Cahon Home Depot
With activists' help, business as usual
The nine members of San Diego Minutemen and USA Border Alert
had lost the battle in El Cahon before it began. When they arrived at 7:00
a.m., they were met by forty migrant supporters, led by gente unida, already
positioned in front of the store.
One of the cazamigrantes had brought
his two German shepherds, who turned out to be friendly enough to the
anti-racists. However, the dogs showed less warmth then they barked at a
police officer, who demanded the owner take them home. Otherwise, the
large turnout of police had little to do except watch business as usual.
African-American, and Anglo day laborers relocated to the side of the protest to
conduct their business with employers, unimpeded by the protestors' commotion.
outnumbered and outflanked minutemen were at the mercy of the counterprotestors,
who had some fun at the minutemen's expense. Two counterprotestors engaged
one minuteman in conversation, leading him across the street, only to run back
to claim the abandoned corner for the counterprotestors. Another migrant
supporter dogged the minutemen with a sign that read "Racist" and an
arrow pointing to her target.
By 10:00 a.m., the minutemen had given up on
their first foray into El Cajon, with nothing but failure to show for their
Rancho Cucamonga Arrow and Grove Market
Old enemies reunite, bring along new allies
The Pomona Day Labor
Center joined up with the Southern California Human Rights Network and the
Rancho Cucamonga Day Labor Center to offer up a combined force of seventy
counterprotestors, day laborers and anti-racist activists, to the thirty-five
members of the FIRE Coalition and Minutemen Patriots of Southern California in
In a "celebrity" event, the Rancho Cucamonga
minutemen brought along Italian immigrant Luca Zanna, composer of the
"Minutemen Song," and talk show host Terry Anderson, to shore up their
The minutemen's signs had a fiercer tone than at a protest
at the same location earlier this year. This time, the minutemen demanded
the migrants, "Go home" and proclaimed "Viva la migra."
Counterprotestors held up "Working is a human right!" and "Resist
white supremacy." At the earlier protest, amplified sound had been
prohibited, but the minutemen had brought along a microphone and amplifier, so
the pro-immigrant protestors rushed to grab their bullhorn.
minutemen were unprepared when the day laborers joined forces with the
One laborer mounted a small bicycle and rode past the minutemen,
using the bullhorn to yell at the invaders, to the cheers of his compadres.
When he rode back, again blaring at the minutemen, a police officer ticketed the
man for riding against traffic. One counterprotestor walked over to
observe the citation and asked what the ticket was for. When the cop
refused to tell him, he declared, "I have a right to know." The
cop responded, "You don't have a right" and added "Do you want a
ticket? Do you want to be part of my investigation?"
shouted that the day laborers should "learn English," while the
laborers taunted the minutemen with "gringo" and "puerco."
Trabajadores and counterprotestors hollered and made noise
to drown out the minutemen's PA-amplified taunts.
In sum, across the
southland, the people shouted to the minutemen, "¡No
mas!" People angry and tired of the minutemen's incessant denigration
of poverty-level workers, of their racist diatribes against those indigenous to
this country, and of their unrelenting scapegoating of all people of Mexican
descent, joined forces to crush their "national day of protest."
With the increasing participation of the jornaleros themselves, in brave
defiance of their vulnerability to persecution and prosecution, the minuteman's
day in the sun is ending.
It remains to be seen if the damage they've
done to current and future migrants can be undone.
With assistance from Vicente,
Rocio, Enrique, Daniel, Juan, Mike, and Olin. Top photo courtesy of