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Activists confront Minutemen from coast to coast
Minutemen's tour of hate

By Kevin Boston, Ben Lassiter, Brad Ward-Robinson and Chris Yarrison | May 19, 2006 | Page 15

GREENSBORO, N.C.--The anti-immigrant Minutemen Project tried to roll through Greensboro on May 10 for a scheduled stop on their 13-city tour from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. But they'll think twice before coming back--after being met with some 100 antiracist counterprotesters.

Organizing to counter the vigilante group began on May 1--at a rally that drew 2,000 immigrant rights protesters to downtown Greensboro--with flyers calling for an organizing meeting.

On May 10, antiracist and pro-immigrant activists gathered downtown for a permitted protest near where the Minutemen were scheduled to appear. Protesters drowned the racists out with chants of "No racists, no borders, no Minutemen supporters!" and "No racists, no KKK, no fascists in the USA!"

Our call to shut down the Minutemen attracted activists from cities all over North Carolina--from Charlotte, Durham, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Winston-Salem and even Asheville, which is a drive of more than three and a half hours! "This country was built by immigrants, so really we are all immigrants," said Héctor, a protester from Greensboro via Mexico. "Even people against immigration are immigrants."

At the height of the rally, counterprotesters outnumbered the Minutemen supporters 100 to 40. Jim Gilchrist, cofounder of the Minutemen, didn't even leave his RV.

Similar scenes were repeated in other cities where the Minutemen tried to bring their message of hate.

In Washington, D.C., the last stop on their tour, some 75 counterprotesters turned out on May 12 to counter some 150 Minutemen. The protest was sponsored by the new pro-immigrant rights group, Immigrant Rights Now!, FMLN Maryland, the DC Statehood Green Party and the International Socialist Organization (ISO).

"The Minutemen did not go unopposed today in Washington, D.C.," the ISO's Nihar Bhatt told protesters across the narrow police cordon separating the vigilante group from the antiracists.

The protest was mostly peaceful, with pro-immigrants' rights demonstrators chanting tirelessly for three hours, even after most of the Minutemen had left the park. "I can't stand the Minutemen's agenda of racism, hate and xenophobia," said a protester named Marco.

While the Minutemen outnumbered counterprotesters this day, "[t]he Minutemen rally was tiny compared with the pro-immigrant marches and protests held across the country in the past month," noted the Associated Press.

Fatmata from Sierra Leone said that any time human beings are being restricted, something should be done. "The immigration issue is a way of diverting our attention from the real problems and blaming those that are the most vulnerable in society," Fatmata said.

As the Bush administration ramps up its assault on undocumented immigrants with promises of a "secure border," anti-immigrant groups like the Minutemen will feel invigorated to organize and attempt to recruit. Activists must organize to confront--and outnumber--these racists wherever they try to rally. This is the only way to make sure they don't grow.

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