Anti-Racists Steal the Show at White Supremacist "Tea Party Against Amnesty"
Forty-five anti-immigration activists held a small rally outside the state capitol on Saturday. Counter-protest from members of Anti-Racist Action, Bash Back, the Minnesota Immigrants' Rights Action Coalition and others was frequent, vigorous and hilarious. ("America is not for Russians! America is not for Germans! Europeans go home!")
The cheerful crowd of immigrants' rights activists held a banner reading "Stop the raids and deportations". In conversation with members of Minnesotans Seeking Immigration Reform, the activists repeatedly pointed out that all non-native people in Minnesota are illegal immigrants--Minnesota was taken by force by whites from the native people who lived here for centuries before white arrival. One activist, under the name "Robert Erickson," managed to get on the list of speakers and riled the crowd into a frenzy about the theft, murder and disease inflicted by illegal immigrants... from Europe, upon indigenous populations. In a "Yes Men" moment, the anti-immigrant crowd sat in silence, trying to figure out what just happened. (See video from Bluestem Prairie; transcript below; photos to come) | More video from I Don't Hate America (1, 2)
Immigrants' rights activists were also unimpressed with MINN-SIR's conservative libertarian take on government programs--although members of MINN-SIR have no problem working for the government, they are opposed to government assistance, whether to support homeowners, to provide health care, schools, or any other form of citizen benefit. "No money for children!" said one immigrants' rights activist. "No money for schools! No money for veterans! That's just great!"
Minnesotans Seeking Immigration Reform and the Minnesota Coalition for Immigration Reduction attempt to present themselves as the respectable face of anti-immigrant sentiment, distinguishing themselves from the neo-nazis who frequently rally in southern Minnesota. But how big is the distinction? Some scenes from yesterday's rally:
Domestic violence is caused by women and exploited by immigrants! A white man who looked to be in his late fifties gave an extended speech describing how, because of the National Organization for Women, hundreds of undocumented women make false claims of domestic abuse in US courts to get US residency. He added that seventy percent of domestic violence cases are caused by women, that some abusers "have good reasons" for what they do, and that courts never investigate domestic violence cases. This was a particularly creative speech given that undocumented women who are victims of abuse often can't get legal help or protection out of fear that they'll be deported.
No education for special needs children! You know what's wrong with education in Minnesota? Schools have to educate everyone. Federal legislation, said local politician Noran Dylan, "forces states to educate children with higher barriers to learning", including students learning English. This raises costs!
Chain gangs, prison deaths and refusing to investigate rape cases are things to boast about! This crowd loves Arizona sheriff Joseph Arpaio, who is a personal friend of the rally's keynote speaker, former Sheriff Richard Mack--a fondness they share with Aryan Nation and the Ku Klux Klan. (Mack's claim to fame is his distaste for background checks on gun owners.) Arpaio is accused of racially profiling Latin@ drivers; he charges undocumented immigrants with felony conspiracy and holds them without bail; his heavily militarized anti-immigrant sweeps are often conducted against the wishes of local government (so much for local government!)--and he's under investigation by the federal government.
Arpaio's jails have money to hire guards to beat blind and disabled prisoners to death (as noted on a conservative website!), but they don't have enough money to investigate rape cases, as per the conservative Goldwater Institute. And serious felonies have skyrocketed during Arpaio's tenure--he's not just racist and violent, he's ineffective! Arpaio thinks it's an honor to be compared to the KKK, too. You may remember Arpaio for his "tent cities" for immigrants, intentionally located near polluted sites. Or his chain gangs--Arpaio-lovers see nothing wrong with lines of poor men, many men of color, laboring in chains. And then there's the homophobia--Arpaio thinks it's hilarious to dress his male prisoners in pink and parade them around, since he thinks men should be humiliated to wear a "feminine" color and he thinks it's awesome to sexually humiliate prisoners.
This is the man whose name was cheered--cheered with passion--by the crowd.
White people brought everything good to this country! Plus confusion. "Can you imagine what it would be like if Mexico still ran this place?" said one rally attendee after explaining to a counter-demonstrator that white Europeans had brought ambition and bravery to a lax and cowardly land.
Pushing journalists is A-ok! After you get done knocking someone off a bike, that is. I was frankly shocked to see one of the older men at the rally push a protester off his bike. While I was taking pictures, the man turned toward me. "I saw you," I said. "I saw you push him off his bike." The guy responded by heading over and giving me a couple of good shoves, because if you're going to knock someone smaller and younger than you down, you sure don't want anyone seeing you do it.
Minutemen hats! "America's Neighborhood Watch" has interpersonal ties to the Klan. Just this summer, former Minutemen star Shawna Forde was arrested for the robbery and murder of Raul Flores and his 9-year-old daughter Brisenia.
That one guy from the Nazi rally! He's always there, and he'll tell you that he's carrying weapons. At the raucous Austin rally last month, local police identified him as Joseph Benjamin Thomas, 38, of Mendota Heights. After trying to join the Nazi rally but being detained when a Mower County Deputy noticed he was wearing body armor and carrying a knife, he was questioned and stated he also had an expandable baton and a stun gun, according to the police report. He was disarmed but allowed to pick up the weapons later. At Saturday's rally at the Capitol, he appeared to pull some kind of weapon in the scuffle after another rally attendee knocked a protester off his bike. (Photo: Thomas at the State Capitol on Saturday (left) and at neo-Nazi rally in Austin, MN on October 17 (right). More photos from Austin available upon request.)
Peaceful Protest FAIL: Here's an excerpt from an email promoting the MINN-SIR rally on a public anti-immigrant listserve:
And some really shockingly bad language!
I may be old-fashioned, but it's still surprising to me to hear an older man approach a group of young people and refer to them as "pieces of shit". Counter-protestors were also "assholes" who had been "dropped on their heads", said another rally attendee. It's important to understand that although there was plenty of shouting on both sides, counter-protestors did not pick individuals out of the crowd and curse at them; this was an anti-immigrant-activist thing.
Related: Support the Bash Back Two! At the recent anti-nazi rally in Austin, MN,two members of Twin Cities Bash Back were arrested for protesting the racist, homophobic, anti-immigrant National Socialist Movement. Donate here to help out with their legal expenses.
"Columbus Go Home!": Prepared transcript of "Robert Erickson's" speech:
Hi, my name is Robert Erickson and I’m really excited to be here. Its people like all of you, and events like this that make our country great! Give yourselves a round of applause!
I just want to talk about a couple themes this afternoon because I love this country and I want to see America be the best place it can be.
Mr. Gutierrez is getting ready to propose an immigration bill in just a few short days, and we have to make sure he knows that we want a bill that’s tough on immigration. Now is the time for us to stand up and make our voices heard!
In Minneapolis, where I’m from, we have a huge immigrant population that’s been causing a number of problems. With the economy in recession, and so many people getting laid off, and unable to find work, immigrants should not be competing for the few jobs that are out there. Its just not fair to the folks who have a claim to this land and the right to be here. All across America, they are contributing to the flooding of our job markets making it hard for American’s to find jobs. Well I’m fed up and its time to let our politicians know that enough is enough, and we’re not gonna take it any more!
We need to secure our borders to protect our country. We need to restore order and put an end to the anarchy that’s sweeping the nation. We need tougher immigration laws to make sure that we send these people back where they came from. We need to protect the sovereignty of the real Americans. We need to hold our politicians accountable.
Its no secret that with an invasion of immigrants, comes waves of crime. We see them involved in massive theft, in murder, and bringing diseases like smallpox, which is responsible for the death of millions of Americans. These aren’t new problems though, they have been going on for hundreds of years, and continue to this day.
I say its time for us to say enough is enough! Are you with me? Are you with me? Lets send these European immigrants back where they came from! I don’t care if they are Polish, Irish, English, Italian, or Norwegian! European immigrants are responsible for the most violent and heinus crimes in the history of the world, including genocide and slavery! Its time to restore the sovereignty of people native to this land! I want more workplace raids, starting with the big banks downtown. There are thousands of illegals working in those buildings, hiding in their offices, and taking Dakota jobs. Let's round them up and ship them out. Then we need to hit them at home where they sleep, I don’t care if we separate families, they should have known better when they came here illegally!
If we aren't able to stand up to these European immigrants, who can we stand up to? We need to send every one of them back home, right now.
Thank you very much, and we’ll see you in the streets!
Columbus go home! Columbus go home! Columbus go home!