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News and reports

October 7, 2005 | Pages 10 and 11

Justice for Filberto Ojeda Ríos
Protest William Bennett

Stop the Minutemen
By Ben Dalbey

WASHINGTON--With only one day's notice, about 30 activists mobilized to protest the presence of racist vigilantes Chris Simcox, president of the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps, and James Gilchrist, founder of the Minutemen, on Capitol Hill September 28.

The Minutemen have recently floundered in their efforts to mobilize armed civilian militias to patrol the U.S. border with Mexico in Arizona and California after activists in the region repeatedly confronted the vigilantes and politically exposed their far-right ideology and fascist supporters.

The D.C. event, held in the swank Capitol Hill Club, a private Republican club a stone's throw away from the U.S. Capitol, was billed as a "kick-off" for the vigilantes' "Secure Our Border" national initiative planned for the month of October.

The business-suited congressional staffers and Capitol Hill elite arriving at Gilchrist and Simcox's reception were visibly surprised and upset to see a young, confident and vibrant crowd chanting with a bullhorn, carrying picket signs, and leafleting at their front door. Unable to have the police remove the protesters from the public sidewalk, the high-class racists resigned themselves to hurling occasional vulgarity and other highly original jibes such as "you smell" as they scurried into the club door.

Even in the heart of Capitol Hill, the counterprotest drew some support and thanks from passersby, including immigrants who work and live in the area. But even more importantly, the small but confident anti-racist presence was enough to strike fear into the bigots' hearts.

They do not want to hear or see us, because in their delusional far-right fantasy, we shouldn't exist. That's why we need to be screaming in their faces everywhere we can.

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Justice for Filberto Ojeda Ríos
By Eva María Woods Peiró

NEW YORK--About 300 people gathered in front of Federal Plaza, chanting "Todo boricua, machetero" (All Puerto Ricans are macheteros), last week to protest the September 23 FBI assassination of independence fighter Filiberto Ojeda Ríos.

The 72-year-old Ojeda Ríos, leader of the Machetero group, had been living underground in a farmhouse in Hormigueros, Puerto Rico, when he was shot by an FBI sniper. The FBI barred entry to his lawyer and his family for a full 24 hours, during which time Filiberto bled to death.

He was killed on September 23, the anniversary of El Grito de Lares insurrection--1868 the Puerto Rican uprising against Spanish rule.

Although this political assassination aimed to weaken the spirit of pro-independence Puerto Ricans in their struggle against U.S. imperialism, the opposite has happened. This past week, tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans have protested on the streets and the airwaves of San Juan and Hormigueros and in areas controlled by the U.S. government. And tens of thousands attended the memorial and funeral services of Ojeda Ríos, believed to be one of the largest funerals in Puerto Rican history.

More than 1,000 vehicles took part in a caravan from San Juan to the eastern town of Naguabo where he was buried, according to the New York-based Puerto Rican newspaper El Diario. And organizations from more than 60 countries expressed their solidarity with Puerto Rico in an approved speech at the Asamblea Mundial de Jubileo Sur and the Encuentro Mundial Sur/Norte.

Puerto Ricans of all political backgrounds, including many previously unsympathetic to the Macheteros, have united to mourn and condemn this attack on Puerto Rico's right to self-determination.

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Protest William Bennett
By Shane Johnson

CINCINNATI--Right-wing commentator William Bennett canceled his appearance at the University of Cincinnati in response to protests planned in reaction to his racist outburst on his radio show last week.

The College Republicans had planned the October 4 event for some time, but as pressure mounted on Bennett, he canceled, saying that the controversy would overshadow his speech entitled "Politics, war and culture."

Bennett claims his comment about aborting Black babies to reduce the crime rate was taken out of context and that he's been "misunderstood." But given Bennett's long history of promoting racist myths, he's not misunderstood.

Groups opposed to Bennett's agenda of hatred called for a protest in front of the student center where he was scheduled to speak. Their message was clear--"No bigots on our campus." Directly confronting the right's racist agenda anywhere it appears is a step forward in the struggle for justice.

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