A handful of SOS and Minutemen faithful showed up on the corner of 7th and Atlantic in Long Beach to protest the sanctuary given to Liliana, a 29 year old immigrant from Mexico by St. Luks Episcopal Church.
The sun was hot in Long Beach but an anti-Minutemen protest at St. Luke’s was not. Tame by comparison to past anti-Minuteman actions in the past the gathering last Saturday lacked the usual “fire”. However the Minutemen and Save Our State were soundly beaten by numbers alone with the anti-immigrant protesters only being able to field about 40 members and pro-immigrant forces gathering to about 100 at the height of the event. Meant to be the start of an all out offensive on immigrant harboring churches this clear program of intimidation by Save Our State and The Minutemen Project was far less than successful. The SOS and Minutemen camp dwindled to about 15 or less before the end of the action. The morning consisted of statements being fired back and forth via megaphone as both sides faced each other on the corner of 7th and Atlantic. Both groups were separated by wooden barricades, orange vested volunteers and of course the Long Beach police. One anti-immigrant protester was led away by police after he tried to cross into the pro-immigrant side. The SOS and Minutemen showed their usual ignorance to history, politics and the socioeconomic situation and even religion. A few of their signs bore harsh criticism of the Catholic Church even though the protest was at an Episcopal house of worship. One anti-immigrant protester responded with a blank stare when questioned about the incongruity. Pro-immigrant supporters were on the other hand confident and upbeat making plans for future meetings, plans and events. The anti-immigrant megaphoned rants were later drowned out by the Aztec Dancers and the event got a little emotional when Liliana’s two young children came out in front of the news cameras and made a plea to have there mother returned home to them. After the event when you’re humble narrator and companion were confronted by Long Beach Police officers. While on our way back to our car around the corner from where pro-immigrant protesters were filtering away and fifteen minutes after the SOS/Minutemen had already left . We came across three squad cars, four cops were “gearing up” with riot helmets, gas masks and 4 foot long nightsticks. We turned on the video camera and started shooting and asked them what they were getting ready for. One very large officer came up to us and barked “step back…you are too close to my police vehicle!” we stepped back and he barked at us again declaring that we were getting too close to him. I notified him that he was the one walking towards us, he replied with a smirk. Clearly using provocational tactics reminiscent of MacArthur Park we never the less and held our ground. The police became very self conscious of the camera and began to fiddle with their equipment as they looked towards their leader for further orders. Two other units pulled up but by then an order was given to pack away there weapons and gear. We decided to leave. We took an indirect route back to our car, as we turned up 6th street we noticed a couple of police units and an unmarked car cruising slowly behind us. We stopped and looked right at them as they photographed us with their little digital cameras and cell phones. When asked why they were photographing us one officer responded by saying “if you can do it, we can do it to”. We told them that they could go ahead since “we are the ones with nothing to hide”. We changed direction and they went on there way. We zigzagged a bit and headed back to our car; I spotted the undercover car in an alley but decided to continue on our way home. As we made our way down to Atlantic the undercover car was clearly tailing us. I turned into the crowded left lane and slowed down, the undercover police car with it’s darker than night smoked windows pulled along side and we waved our hands and gave them big smiles. We made a left turn and made a round about journey back to the 710 deciding not to patronize the City of Long Beach and ditched our plans to see the Soviet sub moored along side the Queen Mary.
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