SF activists protest the Minutemen

October 8, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO--Immigrants rights activists clashed with the vigilante organization, the Minutemen, who were protesting San Francisco’s sanctuary city status outside city hall on September 25.

On just a few days' notice, a diverse coalition of immigrant rights and community organizations brought out more than 175 counter-protesters, who chanted, "Si se puede" and "Racists go home" at the rally of almost 75 Minutemen.

The San Francisco police were out in full force and forced activists off the grass where the Minutemen, who were bused in from outside the city, held a two-hour rally. The racism of the Minutemen was on full display, with hours of speeches blaming immigrants for increasing crime and murder. But activists were not deterred, and the spirited counterprotesters kept chanting until the vigilantes left.

This is the second time in recent months that the Minutemen have protested against San Francisco's sanctuary city policy--a local statute stating that city officials will not ask people about their immigration status or report that status to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

In July, Mayor Gavin Newsom handed a group of undocumented, Honduran youth with criminal records over to ICE, beginning a string of compromises to the sanctuary city status. This opened the door for groups like the Minuteman to try to push for further anti-immigrant city decisions.

Though the Minutemen were far outnumbered this time, the number of their supporters has grown considerably since their last action. Activists must continue to confront and organize against both vigilantes and ICE who are ramping up the scapegoating of immigrants.

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