LA Rebellion
A Part of the Story

Minutemen Stumble, ANSWER Steps Up

Minutemen Stumble, A...

HOLLYWOOD, 11 February 2007–Yesterday at 10:45 a.m., ANSWER-LA led a small crew of fifteen, with banners, signs, and a blaring loudspeaker packed in a shopping cart, south down Argyle and across Hollywood Boulevard into a sea of forty minutemen. Half an hour later, the minutemen, amassed from across southern California, retreated to join their fellows on the southeast corner, pushed back by the growing crowd of protesters.

At an anti-minuteman protest last July 8 at the same location, the cops cornered and beat ANSWER-LA members in yet another videotaped LAPD brutality incident. In that instance, the cops decided not to press charges. Today reporters at the march compared notes and came up with four or five arrests, but only one was verifiable: a man carrying a concave foamboard sign was deemed by the cops to be carrying a shield and, when he reappeared with the sign, was hauled off. A second arrest was reported by the Los

Angeles Times.

Ultimately, about 120 protestors shouted down a nearly equal number of minutemen today on Hollywood Boulevard. The minutemen, formerly über-patriots “defending” the U.S. from an “invasion” of “illegal” workers, are now attempting to bypass a jury trial and judicial appeals, demanding a Congressional or Presidential pardon for two border patrol agents convicted for assault with serious bodily injury, assault with a deadly weapon, discharge of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, civil rights’ violations, and obstruction of justice.

Deprived of their key speaker, an agents’s father-in-law stalled en route by a blown tire, the minutemen scrambled for alternates, who were mostly drowned out by bullhorns, the loudspeaker, and the chants of angry protestors. The minutemen cavalierly, and undeterred by the cops, moved through the protesters’ ranks, along with a bevy of unidentified T-shirted young white men with close-cropped hair. The more notable minutemen were forced back into the street, and two were chased off when they tried to pose as undercover cops. Angry shouting matches erupted, as the minutemen crossed onto the sidewalk and the plaza behind it.

What could be heard was a speaker announcing that “the streets have been taken over by Mexicans” and “Bush is a traitor.” A bullhorn declared, “Why does anyone allow you to walk these streets? You are worthless. You are foolish.” Later it blared “You are Hispanic slaves of the King of Spain.”

The Minutemen rallied under a billboard for The Naked Truck and T-Bones, a commentary not lost on the protesters.

Meanwhile, the protesters continued confronting and pushing back the invading minutemen. At 11:45, the Danza Cuautehmoc leader blew a conch shell to signal their arrival, and began ritual dances that reached back to a time before the Conquest. At 12:20, the minutemen began their march with a round of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Yesterday’s minuteman march was notable for their confusion, who have been repeatedly thwarted in their efforts to demand patriotic xenophobia from the ruling elite, but today appeared with far fewer flags and flag-emblazoned clothing than at their previous events. Frustrated at President Bush’s support for a bracero-style guest worker program, Congress’s refusal to pass the onerous Sensenbrenner HR4437 immigration reform bill after mass demonstrations last spring, and now the judiciary’s insistence that migrants have human rights, the minutemen appeared rudderless.

A red, white, and blue Torino without a passenger led the march, perhaps intended for the missing speaker. Protesters filled the south sidewalk, continuing their chanting and bullhorning, and talking to curious passersby. When the minutemen reached the Chinese Theatre, several took turns posing for photographs with the costumed characters before the procession U-turned and returned along the same route. Christie Czajkowski, one of the leaders of the San Diego Minutemen who last weekend tried to hold a San Diego cop under citizen’s arrest, today walked among the slow-moving police vehicles, stuck her head in each, and demanded they enforce her citizen’s arrest against several women who had moved her off the sidewalk when she forced herself into their group. One policemen, shrugging her off, asked, “What did you expect?” Ted Hayes, leader of the Crispus Attucks Brigade of the minutemen but best known for his work for the homeless, skipped a major homeless protest against city sweeps to stand with the minutemen.

Organizing group Save Our State leaders Joe Turner and Don Silva straggled along at the end of the march while Jim Gilchrist of a sometimes competing group, the Minuteman Project, strode in the front ranks.

Whatever the local nightly news reported, the pedestrians and shopkeepers along Hollywood Boulevard missed the minuteman’s message. One shopkeeper shouted, “Why can’t you march on Sunday? You’re ruining my business!” When asked what the march was about, a young white employee said, “Illegals want freedom and American’s don’t want to give it to them.” A Black guy in a wheelchair, when asked who were marching, answered, “Racists. Yeah, racists walking down the street.” Another shopper said, “They want to shoot all the illegal immigrants.” Still another, an Asian woman, said, “They want to get some guy out of prison.” What’s this about? “Some guys pretending to be police shot an immigrant, and they want to get him out of prison,” another pedestrian explained.

The story is that border patrol agents Jose Compean and Ignacio Ramos were convicted by a Texas jury after a border incident in which they called on a guy driving a van to stop. After a brief foot pursuit he surrendered, hands in the air. One of the agents began to hit him with the butt of his rifle, but the agent slipped, and the suspect took off. The agents fired off fifteen rounds, striking him once. Then the agents scooped up as many shells as they could find, sent another agent back to recover and dispose of the rest, and failed to file a report on the shooting. Only after the pursuit and shooting did the Border Patrol confirm that the guy had expired papers and was hauling pot. The minutemen were also championing Deputy Sheriff Gilmer Hernandez of Edwards County, Texas, who was convicted of shooting at a fleeing vehicle and injuring a migrant in the vehicle.

Heated verbal exchanges between the minutemen behind the wrought iron fence of their parking lot and the protesters on the sidewalk continued until 2:30 p.m., when the LAPD urged the minutemen to leave.

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in the parking lot

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