LOS ANGELES, 23 April 2006--To the casual observer, Saturday’s confrontation between pro-migrant activists and the minutemen might have
looked like the dozen or so others over the past year: 65 or so minutemen at
their peak, something like 100 pro-migrant activists across the street from each
other at a day labor center, trading insults.
But the morning match up at the Burbank Home
Depot was the first since the Gran Marcha of March 25, the first since the
Senate took up the question of legalization for migrants.
Under the rain-threatening clouds, the minutemen barely acknowledged
their ostensible purpose, a Southern California convergence against Burbank Home
Depot, part of a National Corporation protest against hiring workers without
papers. Instead, showing their frustration at the turning tide, the minutemen verbally assaulted the Native
Americans, Chicana/os, and Mexicans with unmitigated racial insults and slurs for four
Mexica Movement was firmly in place by 5:15 a.m., waiting
for the minutemen. By 7:30 a.m., members
of Frente Unido de los Pueblos Americanos, a sponsoring organization for the
pro-migrant "Support the Boycott, Stop the Minutemen" rally, arrived,
along with the first of the anarchists. ANSWER-LA and the Jornaleros del
Valle de San Gabriel
joined them, along with newcomers Estudiantes Unidos, Students for Amnesty from
East Los Angeles, and Border Resistance Network.
What they confronted was almost unending barrage of racism, even as the
minutemen simultaneously screamed that they weren’t racists.
The call from anti-migrant Save Our State went out to all Southern California
minutemen, including FAIR, CTCIC, OJJPAC, USA Border Alert, Wake Up America,
IFIRE, MFIRE, The Fire Coalition, MAIA, the Minuteman Project, and a
handful of recognized neo-Nazis, one of whom, according to a Chicano protestor,
offered a Nazi salute. Apparently the National Corporation Protest occurred
only in Burbank.
It began with minuteman Ray Herrera proclaiming the U.S. is “an
Anglo-Christian culture that let the Irish in in 1820.”
He added, “The U.S. never let any Mexicans in.
We’re a nation of British settlers and their descendents.
We’re not a nation of immigrants.”
The minutemen called out “You don’t have a God” and
called the protestors reprobates and idiots.
“This is not your continent,” they shouted.
Ted Hayes, an African American Republican, brought a
handful of fellow African Americans to the protest in what they dubbed the
Crispus Attucks Brigade. Midway
through the morning, two or three of the African Americans crossed the street
and were engaged by Mexican-Americans in discussion. Hayes, however,
promised to "call out the Buffalo soldiers on you."
Meanwhile, the white Minutemen shouted, “You don’t
bathe! You eat cockroaches!”
Herrera announced, “I’m an Anglo!
I’m a coconut and proud of it!”
The minutemen briefly turned toward Home Depot, in what
turned out to be the only organized anti-corporate action of the day. Then
they turned back to continue their verbal assault on Mexicans:
“What law are you going to break next: rape? murder?” a woman called
out on the PA system.
It wasn’t yet 10:00 a.m., less than halfway into the
minutemen’s protest schedule. Twenty
minutemen pulled out, marching down the street to their cars, flags waving.
Pro-amnesty forces bullhorned back to the minutemen, “I don’t ask
questions, I just feed the hungry. You
take food away from the hungry! Racists! Racists!”
The minutemen shouted, “You can’t even add.
You can’t even spell!”
“Your time is up. The war is on.
We’re taking every one of you out.
Go back across the border,” Herrera challenged.
Nearby, a minutewoman sported a Confederate flag on her sign.
Half an hour later, Hayes led the minutemen in singing
“God Bless America” and the national anthem.
Hayes shouted out, “We love you!”
At that, pro-amnesty protestors surged into the street, just past the row
of parked cars. Police lined up in
front of both groups, donning riot helmets to face the minutemen.
“Commies, go home,” the minutemen baited.
“SOS, KKK, racist scum, go away!”
The migrant supporters held the police at bay for twenty minutes before
they marched down the street, around the cars, and back up on the sidewalk.
A member of FUPA explained: “These
people have spewed racist filth at us all day.
Like, I can’t get out of my mind them calling us
‘cockroach-eaters.’ They swagger
around saying ‘this is war’ and that ICE is going to deport every one of us
across the street from them. It
might as well have been Custer holding a dead Indian baby he’d smashed into a
wall, and telling the mother he loved her. And
people just went off. SOS was doing
everything it could to provoke violence.”
A minutewoman shouted, “Your problem is your church.
They don’t allow birth control.”
“What do we want? Racists out!
When do we want it? Now!”
“If you take America, down,” the minutewoman continued,
“you take us down. Don’t have
four children when you can’t afford two.”
“Esos racistas ellos son los terroristas!”
“You can not assimilate.
You can never be part of this country.”
The Aztec dancers called out “Abajo SOS!”
“Have respect for your elders!”
That brought on another round of
“SOS, KKK, racist scum, go away!”
“You are being controlled by a few people who run this
country. You are sending our
money to Latin America. We are your savior! Do not harm your savior!”
“Down! Down! Down with the minutemen!"
By 11:30, only 30 minutemen remained, while the migrant
supporters maintained nearly their entire contingent.
According to a witness, it was about then that Save Our State leader Don
Silva was the first to trespass into the day labor center, and four riot cops
followed him until he left. Less than half an hour later, another minutemen crossed into the center. A laborer,
asserting that the minuteman had thrown trash at him, pushed him
out, and the minuteman left to consult with Silva at
Silva’s taxi. He returned in a
huff and demanded the laborer be arrested for assault.
The police officer said that he hadn’t seen the incident, and the
minuteman promised to file charges against the laborer anyway.
At 11:40, the last handful minutemen marched out, and the storm clouds
had cleared for the time being.