Pro-Migrant Activists Turn the Tables

by Leslie Radford Sunday, Feb. 12, 2006 at 1:47 AM

Costa Mesan residents hit their anti-migrant counci member in his pocketbook

Pro-Migrant Activist...
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COSTA MESA, February 10, 2006--In a new strategy against the minutemen, thirty members of Colectivo Tonantzin picketed in front of the business of Costa Mesa city councilperson Gary Monahan, who voted with Mayor Allan Mansoor and Eric Bever last December to train local police in immigration law enforcement. Picketers gathered at 5:00 p.m. outside Skosh Monahan's, a restaurant at 2000 Newport Boulevard.

To date, public opposition to the minutemen's meetings and protests on day labor centers and against public art, as well as their vigilante patrols at the border, has been largely reactive, responding to the minutemen's disruption of civic life. This evening Colectivo Tonantzin took the fight to the minutemen.

Restaurant employees reported that the bar, normally a popular Friday-night watering hole, was hard-hit by the protest. The tactic, designed to attack Monahan's income and draw public concern to the onerous policy, resembled the minutemen's year-long assault on the income of day laborers by protesting at laborers' gathering sites.

In addition to the picketers, as many as twenty minutemen turned up to counterprotest. At first they mingled with the picketers, but they soon moved off to the side, effectively aiding the picketers by blocking the entrance to the restaurant's parking lot. By 8:10 p.m. the minutemen had left the site, many escaping into the side door of the bar, presumably for refreshment.

The smiling and sometimes jocular picketers, with large signs easily visible from the street, circled the sidewalk in front of the club and lined the curb, chanting and singing to guitars. One veteran protestor, a 10-month-old nina, was wrapped in her mother's rebozo. Her mother smiled proudly when she asked it this was her daughter's first protest. "No," she said, "it's her third. She's been to two city council meetings."

The aggressive approach of the Colectivo heralds a wave of area Chicano, Indigenous, and Mexican initiatives in battling anti-migrant sentiment, including tomorrow's Mexicano/Latino Leadership Summit to oppose the Sensenbrenner anti-migrant bill and to support legalization of undocumented residents in the United States. The picketers were a vanguard to a planned April boycott of Costa Mesa businesses that refuse to display signs opposing the city council's policy. The boycott is being coordinated by Citizens for Constitutional Rights, a coalition of six community organizations and two union locals. Coyotl Tezcalipoca of Colectivo Tonantzin explained, "Many groups across the area are coming together around this issue."

The new police policy, passed in December, has raised objections throughout the city, in which nearly one-third of the residents are of Mesoamerican descent. Fearing that police will target people based on ethnicity, residents have marched on police headquarters and continued to protest at city council meetings. At a January council meeting, Tezcalipoca was ruled out of order and dragged from council chambers by the police at the order of the mayor. He was briefly hospitalized after the encounter, and the district attorney dropped charges after it was determined that the mayor had improperly shortened Tezcalipoca's allotted speaking time. A complaint against the mayor for disrupting the meeting is pending. Since that meeing, Mayor Mansoor has joined the Minutemen Project and was feted by the Proposition 187 group California Coalition for Immigration Reform.

As the Colectivo was debriefing on a sidestreet next to Monahan's, two well-dressed, apparently white young women walked through the crowd. A picketer ran up to them and explained what had happened. The women decided to find another restaurant.