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Richmond IndyMedia Live! Every Tuesday, 12:30 - 1PM on 97.3 WRIR LP-FM, and streaming online from wrir.org!

LOCAL News :: Civil & Human Rights

California Minutemen pack up; Xenophobes' plans ruined by popular resistance

A report from Jen Lawhorne, RVA IMCista, and Onto, San Diego IMCista:

The Minutemen leave California left California as a failure, drawing few people to their project while encountering strong resistance from a broad coalition of opposition.
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California Minutemen pack up; Xenophobe's plans runied by popular resistance
Down and out, unsuccessful and ultimately ineffective, the California Minutemen packed up on Friday from their base camp, leaving two days earlier than planned, rudely missing the “Good Riddance Going Away Party? that the Gente Unida coalition planned for Saturday.

Despite the MinuteKlan’s absence, the diverse, multi-ethnic group of human and immigrant rights activists from around the state still managed to give them a proper bon voyage with a march, vigil, party, video and a little night-time chase.

As the cover of the San Diego newspaper El Latino claimed on July 29, “Fracasan Los Minutemen? (The Minutemen Fail), the California Minutemen were rendered useless by strong, persistent resistance to their project. They were stopped, confronted, talked to, danced at, disrupted and chased away.

Minutemen patrols were disrupted by loud music, huge spotlights, dance sessions, drumming, readings of chicana poetry, immigration statistics, histories of the Americas, books on white privilege and more. The Buenas Noches Brigade along with others made announcements to those on the other side of the border not to cross at Minutemen stations, “por que hay vigilantes con armas aqui.? Alerted by Minutemen presence, border-crossers sought out different locations to enter the U.S.

During the Minutemen’s three-week tenure in the California desert, two migrants were mysteriously shot near the Minutemen encampment, the group’s leader Jim Chase “apprehended? two hitchhiking migrants and one person perished in the heat.

Around 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, more than 75 people marched down Forrest Gate Road in Campo, Ca. toward the Veterans of Foreign War outpost, which has been housing, feeding and covering the Minutemen since their project began. Unlike the first protests at the VFW, nobody came out from inside the VFW while a barricade of San Diego County sheriff police cars protected the VFW.

Chanting “Hitler Rose, Hitler Fell, Nazi Scum Go to Hell,? and “No Minutemen, No KKK, No Fascist USA,? the group of outraged protesters rolled deep to the VFW. Remembering the 3200 people that have died crossing the U.S.-Mexican border since 1994, the march’s participants counted among themselves people who are personally affected by the U.S. government’s egregious lack of immigration policy.

Immigrants, people from border communities, parents, socialists, children, paramedics, anarchists and everyday people from all walks of life joined in solidarity to stop the burgeoning U.S. xenophobia embodied by the Minutemen.

One community organizer said during the march, “We oppose the Minutemen because they represent the worst kind of ‘American’ bigotry.?

Citing examples from his personal interactions with the Minutemen, Michael Cardenas called them out for being anti-Muslim, anti-queer, sexist racists who believe they are fulfilling a religious crusade for the U.S. war on terror.

A local college professor, Elva Salinas, said many immigrants are being used by the government to fight the war in Iraq with the hope of gaining U.S. citizenship. “If the Minutemen want to fight a war, they should go to Iraq,? she said.

After the VFW demonstration, the group moved back to the Gente Unida camp to hold a vigil for migrants who died in the desert crossing the border, emphasizing the 98 people who died in the brutal heat of July 2005 alone.

As the border fence behind them was decorated in white memorial flags, posters, and pictures, people alternated reading out loud stories of those who have suffered while crossing, letters from mothers of lost children, and names of people who have died.

“ . . . Ismael García Vásquez, Herminio Martínez Altamirano, Alfredo Barriga Ruiz • Roberto Sánchez, Mario Alfredo Clemente Díaz . . .?

One letter read came from the mother of a woman who recently died while crossing the Arizona border. Lucresia Dominguez Luna was literally burned to death in scorching desert heat while her 15 year-old son watched. He later left his mother to search for help from the U.S. Border Patrol. Once he was picked up by the BP, he was immediately deported while the BP negated the search for her body.

Lucresia’s own family from Zacatecas, Mexico had to travel to the border and ask for permission to search for her body. While traversing the vast desert for a month, her father eventually found the remains of her corpse, identifying it by the two rings she wore on her left hand.

The mood grew from somber to festive as music from the Buenas Noches Brigade and food from the Gente Unida Camp brought all together under a clear moonless sky for dance, reflection and celebration of the defeat of the Minutemen. People gathered in circles strategizing for the next round of resistance to different border vigilantes coming out on Sept.16, Andy Ramirez’s Friends of the Border Patrol.

Two members of FOBP were spotted on a hill overlooking the party. They were later joined by two independent media-makers, who held them at bay until back-up arrived. “I’m with Friends of the Border Patrol,? the man who identified himself as Mike said. “We’re casing the place. We’ll be here in a couple of weeks.?

Mike and his unidentified companion were eventually surrounded by a group of fifteen who at first attempted to engage them in dialogue but eventually began to shout “Racists go home.? Forced to drive away in their pick-up truck, they sped off in a hurry almost hitting a sheriff.

Afterwards, the camp reconvened to watch a locally produced video of what has been happening in Campo during the past three weeks. Projected onto the back of an ambulance, the video made by San Diego IMC and Cascadia Media Collective – Border Faction highlighted how a coalition of anti-racist activists can come together to expel paramilitaries in their own town.

Later in the night, members of Gente Unida chased down three Minutemen cars. But in the midst of the chase, “neutral? Border Patrol and local Sheriffs intervened, pulling over the Gente Unida cars for no reason, allowing the Minutemen to get away.

Cooperation between the Minutemen and border officials was further exposed when a passing-by Department of Interior officer stated to Gente Unida members how much he and law enforcement in general appreciated the Minutemen vigilante project.
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California Minutemen pack up; Xenophobe's plans runied by popular resistance
 
 


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