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Fremont activists take on racists

By Jeremy Tully | August 11, 2006 | Page 19

FREMONT, Calif.--Five Latino activists were arrested by Fremont police on July 28 for the "crime" of standing up to racism.

For several months, the anti-immigrant East Bay Coalition for Border Security (EBCBS) has demonstrated every other Friday at a busy intersection here. In response, Bay Area activists have joined forces to confront them. Every week, antiracist activists have been there to challenge EBCBS's hateful message, with signs reading, "No to racism," and "Immigrants are welcome here."

Because of this challenge, the right wing in Fremont has been forced to retreat. Michael Smith, an organizer of the counterprotests and member of the International Socialist Organization, noted that the bigots no longer feel confident to advertise their protests.

"You now have to e-mail them to find out where the protest will be," Michael said. "This is a victory for us. We have run them off the corner and made them retreat and turn it into a private affair." While they have been forced to retreat from their original goal of organizing other racists in public, they have not given up on trying to terrorize people of color.

Outnumbered by large margins by antiracist activists, EBCBS has resorted to physical attacks in the past few weeks. On July 14, EBCBS member shoved and hit two counterprotesters. What did the police do? They arrested the counterprotesters, but did nothing about the assault!

This week, EBCBS escalated its violence. When they were outnumbered 60-10, they moved to a new intersection several miles away. Counterdemonstrators followed them to the new location so that people would know their racist message was not going unchallenged.

When five Latino activists arrived ahead of the rest of the group, they were attacked by the bigots--and again the police arrested the victims of the assault, charging them with "assault on a police officer."

In a disgusting violation of the activists' civil rights, Fremont police then took them one at a time in front of the would-be vigilantes, giving the right wingers a chance to level uncontested charges against the antiracist activists. Legal observers from the National Lawyers Guild protested, but were ignored by police.

Plans are underway to mount a legal defense for those arrested and to continue organizing in the streets. "We know what they're up to with their racist agenda," said San José activist Xochiyohua. "We're not illegal, and many of us have been here for thousands of years. Five hundred years is enough."

For information about future plans to stop EBCBS, contact Michael Smith at [email protected] or 415-272-5049.

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