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Pathetic Turnout of Minutemen/SOS

by Cliff Ollin Tuesday, May. 23, 2006 at 9:35 PM
cliffolin@sbcglobal.net 626-281-8741 103 E. Mission Rd., Alhambra, CA 91801

This mostly humourous piece focuses on the tiny turnout at the MInutemen's "parade", and describes the uncomfortable situation the MInutemen were put in by the placement of the porta-san restrooms on the side filled by counter-protestors.

We San Gabriel Valley Neighbors attended Sunday’s protest to counter the Minutemen/SOS "parade" on Broadway in downtown L.A. The laughable or pathetic part of the Minuteman "parade" was their tiny turnout: we counted 100-120 people. They had at least three weeks to mobilize their people, and only got that tiny number to show up. We had three hundred thousand marching along the same route on May 1.

There was not much to do except yell at them and hold

signs, because there were approx. 60 police that

formed a line in the street to keep us away from the

knuckleheads and their parade. The Minutemen/SOS

tried to make it a "parade" by having three cars go

ahead of their pitiful contingent of marchers. They

only occupied the middle of Broadway, and at most

two-thirds of a block when you count the SUV, the

van, and the convertible car with two suited ("guests

of honor"?) fools in the back seat smiling as people hurled insults at them, which made it a cruel parody of the "tournament of roses grand marshal" car.

Sunday shoppers along south Broadway mostly just stood there and watched the real aliens walk down the middle of Broadway. It is hard to over-emphasize the tiny turnout of SOS/Minutemen. Unlike progressive marches, where the entire stretch of Broadway from Olympic to First St. is closed off, the cops only had to close Broadway a block at a time as the "parade" cruised by.

There weren't many counter-protesters either, despite

the high-profile location: maybe 300-400, mostly

very vocal, confrontational activists--anarchists and

RCP-and other regulars that "confront-the racists"

when they come out to "protest" day-laborer centers in

front of Home Depots. It looks like most

pro-immigrant people decided to sit this one out and

not call any undue attention to the SOS/Minutemen.

That strategy appears to have been successful: I saw

very few media there: Only Canal 52. Given the small

turnout on both sides, the march/parade did not

deserve much coverage.

Once the Minutemen made it to City Hall they crossed

Spring, and walked over to the steps where many

progressive rallies have been held. Only this time,

about 60 police had formed a human barrier leading

halfway up Spring and across the intersection of First

and Spring to keep counter protesters away from the

City Hall lawn. Also, two fire engines were parked on

First St. in front of the City Hall lawn. Why

fire-engines? Maybe the police had back-up plans to

use water- cannons to deter counter-protestors. The

fire fighters were kicked backed, sitting on their

engines, and digging the counter-protestors with their

signs, banners, and chants, and taking it easy on a

very cloudy day. The Minutemen/SOS by then were

practically invisible, their numbers so small that

they were hard to see from the street.

The Minutemen appear to have rented about 6 Porta-san restrooms that were placed on the west side of Spring just north of First, across the street from the City

Hall lawn. We counter-protesters were crowded on that side of the street, on both sides of the porta-sans,

so the Minutemen/SOS would have had to have crossed Spring, and walked through the line of about 50 cops, and then pushed through us to get to the restrooms. I bet they were royally pissed off (pun intended) at the porta-san company. Speaking of "pissed", I and other counter-protesters used the porta-sans, which were sparkling clean and odor-free.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the Minutemen and SOS for their hospitality and consideration of our personal needs: After walking thirteen blocks up Broadway, I felt an acute urge to urinate, but had resigned myself to "holding it" until the end of the protest, only to see those gorgeous and eminently sanitary facilities right there at the protest location. Nothing could have been more convenient or welcomed at that moment.

A couple of the four or five black anti-immigrant

marchers had been smart enough to stop at the

restrooms as the group crossed Spring to get to the

City Hall front yard, and so were able to use the

restrooms before the counter-protesters really got set

up. I and an couple others kept asking the guys why

they had allied themselves with the

racist/KKK/neo-Nazi types leading the "parade", but

all they could say was: "This isn't about racism..."

One cop grabbed the black guy we were talking to and

pulled him onto the street, away from us. Pretty

rude. Would they have done the same to a white

Minuteman?

About a half hour later about eight Minutemen/SOS

people left their minuscule "rally" on the City Hall

steps and walked across the City Hall yard to Spring

St. to use the restrooms. They had walked the same 13 blocks as we had, but had made the serious mistake of not using the porta-sans when their group walked past them. Only the two black guys had the foresight to use the restrooms before the counter-protesters had set up there. The eight or so men and women SOS/Minutemen started to cross Spring to get to the porta-sans, which by then were surrounded by people vociferously shouting "Racists Go Home", "El Pueblo Unido, Jamas Será Vencido", and then "We don't want your shit!" (note the double meaning of that phrase, given the context) when the Minutemen started to cross Spring.

The police and two of the Minutemen "security"

people (one black guy in a suit and a black lady in a

suit who had endured taunts of "House Negroes"

throughout the "parade") stopped the SOS/Minutemen

and sent them back to the City Hall lawn. That small

victory galvanized the crowd which screamed "Go away. We don't want your shit!" loud enough for them to clearly hear and feel the resonance of this vicious

taunt in their entrails and internal plumbing. Their

brains heard the angry protesters at the same time

that, a bit further down in their bodies, "nature"

was calling them ever more insistently.

We won the "batalla de los baños". The cops made that one easy because they were too lazy to escort the

SOS/Minutemen to the porto-sans, and refused to let

them cross the street to use them at their own risk.

There must be a human-rights violation there. Isn't

using a restroom a human right, and one sometimes

denied so-called "illegal aliens" at stores and

restaurants?

Perhaps the Minutemen/SOS felt like second-class

citizens for a while. Instead of being treated

courteously and deferentially by the police, they

were brusquely told to stay away, and prevented from

using the porta-sans though there were no other

restrooms in sight. Were they mad at the police or at

counter-protesters for denying them access to

restrooms? For a while they too were forced to wait

and wait, much like immigrant workers must wait for

permitted bathroom breaks at so many difficult jobs

they accept and perform to make the California

lifestyle possible, and to provide the cheap, high

quality fruits and vegetables, we take for granted

here in Southern California.

Most of the SGV people left at about 2:00 p.m. when

the protest was at a stand-off. The Minutemen/SOS

were clustered by the City Hall steps. They were far

fewer people than one sees during a weekday lunch-time when city workers and others head to the lawn to

picnic there during their lunch-breaks.

The "Batalla de los Baños" will take its place

amongst other momentous events in the immigrant

rights' struggle. Our resounding victory in that

battle will serve as a rallying cry to animate future

generations in the struggle for human dignity here and

throughout the universe.

C. Olin

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