LA Rebellion
A Part of the Story

We’re here to stop the fascists and the Nazis

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LOS ANGELES, 25 March 2007–As marchers at the Federal Building denounced the stepped up ICE raids and deportations, another group of protestors mounted a last-minute anti-minuteman rally to counter the anti-migrant group’s march up Broadway, the path of the one million-strong migrant Gran Marcha of March 25, 2006. A group calling itself “No Name” pulled together about two hundred and fifty counterprotestors and got a sidewalk permit to follow the minutemen through the busy shopping district. Along the way, they enlisted Sunday shoppers in their anti-minuteman chants and jeers.

The minutemen were led by Ted Hayes of the Federation for American Immigration Reform’s Choose Black America, and their march was sponsored by the rabidly anti-migrant group Save Our State, whose founder and CEO also works for FAIR. They managed to muster about as many ralliers as the counterprotestors had, after weeks of widespread promotion and requesting a permit for one thousand. They took a single float down the street that called for reparations for African-Americans, a new political front for Save Our State but a longtime cause for Hayes. And they brought along their familiar anti-migrant signs and U.S. flags. Whether the predominantly Spanish-language shoppers understood the reparations message was unclear to the counterprotestors. The SOS march was billed as a civil rights march but, like an earlier march last May 21, civil rights didn’t seem to be the message.

They rounded the corner onto Spring Street at 1:30, with an escort of cop towncars and a phalanx of cops boxing them in on four sides, keeping the counterprotestors on the sidewalk on either side. Hayes was spotted jumping out of a sergeant’s car, who had apparently given him a lift. As the minutemen crossed onto the City Hall lawn, the counterprotestors took their position across the street on the northwest corner of Spring and 1st Streets. The cops, some with belts of tear gas canisters, lined the west side of Spring Street, as has become usual, facing the counterprotestors. The cops nearly outnumbered the counterprotestors, and they parked twenty cop cars on 1st Street alongside a half dozen emergency vehicles. At one point the cops closed ranks because they had arrayed themselves down the street far past the small cluster of counterprotestors on the corner.

The No Name organizer explained their presence: “We have to be here. We’re the voice of conscience. We’re here to stop the fascists and the Nazis.” A counterprotestor said she had been told by cops that minutemen members were part of the police’s Hollywood and Wall Street stations. The counterprotestors shouted and bullhorned at the minutemen from the sidewalk and the small rise behind it.

A few of the counterprotestors began arguing among themselves when leaders from the anti-deportation march joined them. Some of the counterprotestors were upset that the earlier anti-deportation march, just two blocks over, hadn’t joined them, but a voice called out from the back, “¡El pueblo unido jamás será vencido!” The crowd of counterprotestors took up the call, and the row was quelled.

I was walking into the minuteman rally as they were chanting “Ted Hayes! Ted Hayes! Ted Hayes!” It seems that Save Our State has found a new personality to follow, and that Hayes has maneuvered himself into a position to take the role of charismatic leader following Turner’s decision to step away from the limelight. The next speaker called for “No more using our schools. No more using our hospitals. No more using our civil rights!” He added, speaking of the migrants, “They’re sorry, they’re wasted, they’re through.” He led the mostly inattentive crowd in three half-hearted rounds of “We’re mad, and we’re not going to take it anymore.” Hayes jumped in and added, “We’re fired up, we can’t take it no more!”

In the climax to the rally, minuteman David Hernandez announced his candidacy for mayor of Los Angeles and promptly swore himself in, reciting the oath of office. Then, in the inaugural speech of his candidacy, he recited the history of the abuse of African-Americans in this country and supported reparations for the descendents of slaves. He made no mention of any other group, offered no vision for city or solutions for its problems, and his only political promise was to include African Americans in any discussion of immigration, “legal or illegal.” Chelene Nightingale, rally organizer, was leading rounds of “Run, David, Run!” as I walked away.

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