5:30 protesters assemble at both entrance points of borders, distributing the flyer used to promote the event
and carrying banners.
6:00 pm: Jim Gilchrist arrices in a pearl-white esplanade like a captured spy; Very discreet, no red carpet, practically running into the store. Anyone with a camera who lacked a press-pass was barred from entering and anyone who antagonized the Minuteman camp (approx. 10 people) was ejected from the store.
6:30 pm: the rally numbers approx. 30-45 people, a UFW banner is visible ("Si Se Puede" w/ UFW eagle), and one person on the megaphone chants... the group is still split in two, with about 15 people marching down the sidewalk in fron of the Borders store on Thousand Oaks boulevard. About 3 squad cars and 4 bike cops guard the front entrance.
The protesters were energetic, strong, and clearly visible from the freeway, red flags and black ones are planted on the lawn. The chants directed towards Gilchrist's venue ("Down with Borders, Up with people!" etc.) were largely improvised. Right-wing old ladies, handicapped white alcoholics, and other miscellaneous human waste (the Minuteman Project's social base) pointed and laughed, but it was clear who the victors were in this situation.
The Minuteman presence apparently (according to testifying right-wingers) felt stale and offered further proof that (according to a founding member in Jim's entourage) the group is on the wane and is largely irrelevant,,, interestingly enough, this "founding member" said that this was largely a result of the co-opting of the movement by the the faux-conservative Bush'ites within the conservative movement, which will maybe build a wall but won't take further steps such as expelling the immigrant community and prosecuting "criminal" border-crossers.
Borders books apparently felt that the book-signing might be some huge event, so a ticket system was put in place for it... rather than some sold-out show,only a handful of ideologues showed up and his book-signing was heckled by protesters who took up posts around the cafe where he was based.
An interview with a professionally-dressed member of his entourage which was done by Univision was promptly drowned out and encroached upon by indignant members of the community, leading to a very awkward and defeated performance by the spokeman of the Minutemen.
Gilchrist eventually left at 8:15, 45 minutes before his planned departure, most likely discouraged by the fact that Borders effectively hosted an anti- rather than a pro- Minutemen event. Either way, Borders lost out because many refused to enter the store when protesters notified them of the event (and scared other god-fearing folk away).
Towards the end of the night a truck arrived from a Panaderia down Thousand Oaks blvd., delivering fresh baked goods (ham/jalapeno rolls, quesadilla bread, conchas, custard pastries, etc.) to the counterdemo.
The demo ended on a note which tied the Minutemen to the whole superstructure of Government policy and capitalist oppression, bridging the gap between anti-immigrant racism, the war on terror, gas prices, etc. Those who appeared generally stayed from beginning 'til end, and the energy was sustained throughout.
We ended by bringing to peoples' attention the mass civil disobedience action planed for Thursday, Sep. 28, at LAX by the brave Unite-HERE hotel union campaign.
Overall this was really a precedent-breaking manifestation of community power in Ventura County, and shows that if the Minutemen try to form a local chapter then this will meet opposition locally wherever it goes.
If anything, though, this was a dress-rehearsal for future local actions which will happen in response to local events and will hopefully be a strong political lever used to counter the aims of any Republican, Democratic politicians who aim to enact fascistic policies towards the people who build this county daily.. Ventura County effectively gave the Minutemen an uncomfortable, depressing experience... the anti-Minutemen were in top shape as far as morale was concerned and will move forward towards aggressively addressing issues as they come about.