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Pathetic Turnout of Minutemen/SOS

by Cliff Ollin Tuesday, May. 23, 2006 at 2:35 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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