Southern California protest of Minutemen

By John Osmand

OJAI, Calif.--Immigrant rights protesters turned out to take on a few dozen anti-immigrant members of the Minutemen/Save Our State (SOS) who came out to a day laborer center here March 29. The Minutemen/SOS targeted the day laborer center because they claim it encourages "lawlessness"--because work authorizations are rarely checked.

Members of the Oxnard-based Frente Contra las Redadas (Front Against the Raids, FCR) infiltrated the ranks of the bigots. Both sides were videotaping the other, and engaging in heated debate. When an FCR member pulled out a bullhorn and the crowd began chanting, however, the Minutemen decided they'd had enough and moved across the street away from the day laborer center.

Chanting "Minutemen, KKK, racist scum, go away," the pro-immigrant forces occupied the corner on the busy main street in town. The Minutemen took up positions across a side street and at a bus stop frequented by laborers. Some of the FCR protesters followed them, and soon, the Minutemen moved away from the bus stop as well.

For the rest of the morning, each side sought support from passing cars and pedestrians. While the Minutemen received some support, there was also significant support for the pro-immigrant counter-protesters. Many drivers honked and gave the FCR protesters a thumbs-up or raised fist, and some even joined the action.

One Ojai resident expressed delight that protesters had come from Oxnard and elsewhere in Ventura County. He decided to talk to the Minutemen to see if any had proof of U.S. citizenship. None did, and none were residents of Ojai.

Most participants considered the day's action a victory for immigrant rights.