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Black Americans Choose: Minutemen Go Home

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Jun. 26, 2007 at 8:59 AM

More than three hundred Crenshaw District residents joined two hundred migrant rights' supporters and linked arms to keep the minutemen out of Leimert Park, the heart of Black Los Angeles.

Black Americans Choo...
defense_line.jpg, image/jpeg, 448x336

Anti-minutemen protestors, called by the Mayday Defense Committee and Unión del Barrio, linked arms across the 43rd Place entrance to Leimert Park three lines deep to defend the park against the minutemen.   Across the street, Choose Black America, a front group for the anti-immigrant march sponsors, Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), and Save Our State, a minuteman spin-off, fretted and stewed.  The LAPD, obviously sensing the determination of the people and reeling from the public outcry against their violence in MacArthur Park last month, kept the groups apart, eventually moving cruisers in front of the entrance to prevent a minuteman incursion, and rescinded the minuteman permit to enter the park.

Choose Black America had called the demonstration as the kickoff to a nationwide campaign to force an apology from the Mexican government for the booing of Miss America at the Miss Universe conference.  Another CBA announcement told African-Americans, "Don't be fooled by the 'Black-Brown" Coalitions" and claimed co-sponsorship by Millennium Panthers and West Side Illegal Immigration Control.

By 1:00 p.m. CBA had mustered its marchers and stepped onto the street at Crenshaw and Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevards to begin their parade down this major artery through the historically African-American neighborhood to Leimert Park, the public platform for Los Angles Black voices and the center of Black Los Angeles culture.  They put together a showing of about eighty-five, sixty-five or so anti-immigrant African-Americans, twenty white minutemen, and one or two Mexican-Americans.  Save Our State has undergone serious internal upheavals and splits because of its support of former homeless activist Ted Hayes, now the chair of CBA.   

As the minutemen assembled on the southwest corner, the counterprotestors, on the southeast corner, shouted at them, "Minutemen, KKK, racists out of South LA!"  An RCP member bullhorned, "We don't have an immigration problem--we have a capitalism problem!"  Another protestor was overheard explaining to a white protestor, "They try to pit Blacks against Latinos.  The system is the problem--that's what it is."  YLP, a Puerto Rican, found the historical parallel: "My people, the people [the minutemen] are persecuting, they're just like the Jews were in Nazi Germany.  And the minutemen are the Nazis."

The LAPD allowed the swelling crowd of counterprotestors, a mixed Brown, Black, and white group led down Crenshaw by the Black Riders Liberation Party, to spill into the street as they marched fifteen feet away from CBA.  CBA and the minuteman rode and walked beside a flatbed float representing a slavers' ship decked out with signs calling for reparations, under the banner of the Church for Reparations Now!  CBA supporters held signs for another FAIR front group, NumbersUSA.  The white minutemen brought up the rear, saying nothing as the group up front chanted, "Choose--choose--choose Black America."  They were drowned out, even across the street, by the counterprotestors calling out "Asesinos!" and "Down with the Klan, down with the minutemen."  

One Black activist explained, "They're trying to separate and divide.  Ted Hayes is brainwashed.  The minutemen will turn their back on him when they're finished with him."

Residents along the march route were heard complaining that the Klan had shut down the buses on Crenshaw, as they drifted off to find alternate routes.

As we reached the park, the cops announced that we were to be penned on the east side of the park.

The anger had mounted as we marched, and the call went out when we found ourselves between the park and the minutemen: don't let them in the park.  The first arrivals took international flags into the park and stood at the gates, but the police had stopped CBA and the minutemen on the west side of the Crenshaw.  The counterprotestors repositioned themselves across the east sidewalk entrance between the cop cruisers .  People from the community, grandmotherly types, young men, shop owners, employees, with quiet and clear fierceness, were pouring through the park and coming north across 43rd Street to the sidewalk .   Then the call was "lock down!"  Three lines of people joined arms across the thirty-foot open space between the cop cars at the entrance, discussed how to handle police batons, and determined that the minutemen would not cross.  The Aztec danzantes protected the people with ritual dances and guarded the southeast corner of 43rd Street and Crenshaw.  The Black Riders alternated between patrolling the other entrances to the park and standing at the front of the defense line.  The International Socialist Organization ran off a minuteman truck circling around the looking for a back entrance.

A participant murmured, "They're using Black Nationalism.  I didn't know Black Nationalism sided with the Klan."  Then the triumphant cry:  "Whose streets?  Our streets!  People united will never be divided!"

The police stretched their yellow tape around the CBA and the minutemen, penning them in across the street, and told them that they wouldn't be going into the park today.  The counterprotestors roared, "Leimert, MacArthur, New Orleans: Smash the racist war machine!" and Black and Brown allies called out, "We are not the minority--we are the majority!"  One counterprotestor had a special message for Hayes: "You came to the community to stir up trouble!"

Two cop cars were moved in front of the line, effectively ending any hope the CBA had of charging the park.  At 2:40, the cops put their riot helmets on.  The defense line, which had relaxed after an hour of the stand off, snapped to.  The riot gear came off.

At 3:00, the cops forced the CBA and SOS onto the west sidewalk,  surrounded them, and offered them the choice of leaving or arrest.  Hayes and five of his followers stepped into the street in a last-ditch, staged arrest so Hayes, as one observer put it, would "earn his pay."  And the media ran to film Hayes being escorted into a police van.  They were taken to a substation and released.

In a protest in some ways reminiscent of Baldwin Park's first encounter with the minutemen, the Leimert Park defenders had turned hate and divisiveness out of their public space.  Some of the Crenshaw residents expressed concerns about the effects of immigration on employment; others responded that Black unemployment had a long history that preceded today's anti-immigrant backlash.  Whatever their position on the causes of unemployment, they were united in denouncing the rhetoric and tactics of the minutemen.  Hayes and his crew had failed, and the Black-Brown coalition held.

Before the day began, Muffy told me that, "There's nothing like the Nazis to bring people together."  Besides the groups mentioned, Mexica Movement, ANSWER-LA, Radical Women, the Sons of Jacob, Base Collective, the People's Liberation Party, and the Brown Berets were among those on Crenshaw Boulevard.

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counterprotestors assemble

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Jun. 26, 2007 at 8:59 AM

counterprotestors as...
counterprotestors_assemble.jpg, image/jpeg, 448x336

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CBA and the minutemen assemble

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Jun. 26, 2007 at 8:59 AM

CBA and the minuteme...
cba_mm_assemble.jpg, image/jpeg, 448x336

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Hayes addresses the "masses"

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Jun. 26, 2007 at 8:59 AM

Hayes addresses the ...
hayes_addresses_the_crowd.jpg, image/jpeg, 336x341

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by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Jun. 26, 2007 at 8:59 AM

brown_berets.jpg, image/jpeg, 430x336

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minutemen and CBA march

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Jun. 26, 2007 at 8:59 AM

minutemen and CBA ma...
minutemen_marchers.jpg, image/jpeg, 448x252

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reparations float

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Jun. 26, 2007 at 8:59 AM

reparations float...
cba_float.jpg, image/jpeg, 448x241

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counterprotestors reach the park

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Jun. 26, 2007 at 8:59 AM

counterprotestors re...
reaching_the_park.jpg, image/jpeg, 414x336

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danzante protection

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Jun. 26, 2007 at 8:59 AM

danzante protection...
danzante_protection.jpg, image/jpeg, 336x410

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never seen

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Jun. 26, 2007 at 8:59 AM

never seen...
ever_seen.jpg, image/jpeg, 336x420

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an international park

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Jun. 26, 2007 at 8:59 AM

an international par...
international_park.jpg, image/jpeg, 448x291

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legalization, reparations, stop the war

by Leslie Radford Tuesday, Jun. 26, 2007 at 8:59 AM

legalization, repara...
legalization_reparations.jpg, image/jpeg, 369x336

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Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 60 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
What I didn't say Leslie Tuesday, Jun. 26, 2007 at 9:34 AM
What I didn't say Leslie Tuesday, Jun. 26, 2007 at 9:35 AM
the Nazis will be in Santa Monica Thursday, Jun. 28, 2007 at 7:38 PM
to the hidden poster Leslie Thursday, Jun. 28, 2007 at 9:36 PM
never seen BorderRaven Friday, Jun. 29, 2007 at 11:52 AM
What I didn't say BorderRaven Friday, Jun. 29, 2007 at 12:09 PM
Ol' Burger Ravenous is a Nazi Ol' burger Raven-ous is a Nazi Friday, Jun. 29, 2007 at 6:15 PM
Black????? not racist Saturday, Jun. 30, 2007 at 1:00 PM
the Nazis will be in Ranch Cucamonga Tues July 3 '07 GuessWho Saturday, Jun. 30, 2007 at 7:36 PM
hmmmm theded Saturday, Jun. 30, 2007 at 9:17 PM
So there is no nazis for target practice Sunday, Jul. 01, 2007 at 3:49 AM
Not a SOS even BorderRaven Sunday, Jul. 01, 2007 at 5:33 AM
pathetic Damn Sunday, Jul. 01, 2007 at 7:34 AM
one more time nazis for target practice Sunday, Jul. 01, 2007 at 7:36 AM
BorderBlob--fascist hypocrit 1st hand source Thursday, Jul. 05, 2007 at 12:11 AM
poor gerry V Friday, Jul. 06, 2007 at 2:41 PM
reply Jammer CC Friday, Jul. 06, 2007 at 4:38 PM
see Burger Ravenous in action he's planning to take down Han Solo Friday, Jul. 06, 2007 at 6:45 PM
reply Jammer CC Friday, Jul. 06, 2007 at 6:51 PM
borderblob V Friday, Jul. 06, 2007 at 10:49 PM
reply Jammer CC Saturday, Jul. 07, 2007 at 2:20 AM
reply Jammer CC Saturday, Jul. 07, 2007 at 2:23 AM
give it up gerry V Saturday, Jul. 07, 2007 at 11:39 AM
border blob ch Saturday, Jul. 07, 2007 at 1:42 PM
SOS Sunk By In-fighting TruthBTold Sunday, Jul. 08, 2007 at 10:15 PM
reply Jammer CC Sunday, Jul. 08, 2007 at 10:33 PM
borderingoninsanity ytc Sunday, Jul. 08, 2007 at 10:36 PM
leadership? BorderRaven Monday, Jul. 09, 2007 at 3:12 AM
hee hee hee nazis for target practice Monday, Jul. 09, 2007 at 5:18 AM
BorderRaven Got The Boot! TruthBTold Monday, Jul. 09, 2007 at 7:37 PM
YTcommunitywatch aka ytc YTC Monday, Jul. 09, 2007 at 8:09 PM
reply Jammer CC Monday, Jul. 09, 2007 at 10:31 PM
The way to defend the community Fight2Win Saturday, Jul. 21, 2007 at 1:44 AM
FYI nazis for target practice Saturday, Jul. 21, 2007 at 9:28 PM
Meltdown at SOS? reader Tuesday, Aug. 07, 2007 at 1:05 AM
Unity feeder Tuesday, Aug. 07, 2007 at 8:13 AM
Taking a Powerful Stand Against Racism Varlet Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2007 at 9:43 PM
Workers of the World, Unite... BorderRaven Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2007 at 11:29 PM
how does it feel? to be or not to be - a tool Thursday, Aug. 16, 2007 at 1:27 AM
Divided we are Stronger? The Anti- Thursday, Aug. 16, 2007 at 12:33 PM
grandfather Z Thursday, Aug. 16, 2007 at 2:37 PM

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