Babblin on in Babylon

Babblin on in Babylon

By One People’s Project

BABYLON, NY – Approximately forty supporters of the anti-immigration group Minuteman Project came out to hear its co-founder Chris Simcox at American Legion Post #94 in this Long Island town. Simcox however became less of an attraction as over 100 persons from across the tri-state area came out to oppose his presence and organizing in New York.

The organizers of what they called a “recruiting meeting” were already on edge because of some vandalism they said occurred overnight to the American Legion Hall. No one knows who in fact was responsible for the spray paint found on the building, but despite charges to the contrary on the part of the Minutemen supporters, there is no evidence that the vandalism was in any way related to their appearance.

Local antifa and Babylon residents had tried to convince the American Legion Post to cancel the event, given the Minutemen’s reported support of groups and individuals that are associated with hate groups. Some members of the white supremacist discussion board Stormfront, on the other hand, called the post to convince them otherwise. Not only did they not cancel the event, some American Legion members participated in it. There did in fact happen to be at least one person that had been identified with hate groups. John Clark, who was the keynote speaker for a meeting in Bridgewater, NJ on June 25, was at this meeting as well. He is a member of both California Citizens for Immigration Reform and the American Immigration Control Foundation, which have been listed as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Other notable individuals that were in attendance were Ron Bass of United Patriots of America, who organized the Bridgewater meeting, and Former Yonkers Mayor John Spencer, who is making a primary election bid for the Senate seat held by Hillary Clinton. There were a number of groups represented among the counter-demonstrators. Among them were the North Jersey, Brick, NJ and New York City Chapters of Anti-Racist Action, the Internationalist Group, the Long Island Troops Out Now Coalition’s Immigrant Rights Committee and a Long Island immigrant support group called the Workplace Project. In addition, a flyer distributed at the demonstration noted a number of groups endorsing the action. They were Youth Against Oppression, the Suffolk Peace Network, Long Island SOA Watch, 5 Towns Forum, PeaceSmith, the Freeport Community Worklink Center and the Long Island Freespace.

Much of the event involved chants against the Minuteman supporters and loud debates with them. The meeting was supposed to go from 2-4 PM, but both groups were arriving at 1:30 PM and stayed until it was close to 5 o’ clock. Despite attempts to deflect charges of racism, the Minuteman supporters could not keep that ugly truth hidden too well. When the counter-demonstrators chanted, “Racists go home!” one woman, who is known by local activists to be someone who likes to harass the local immigrants, replied, “I am home!” A number of racist slurs and remarks were heard from other supporters as well, not to mention a few anti-gay potshots. Counter-demonstrators took their own shots at the assembled hatemongers. At one point, the Minuteman supporters attempted a rendition of “God Bless America”, but that was quickly drowned out by counter-demonstrators revision of the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine”. It was changed to “We All Live In A Military State”. Two people were briefly detained by police who said they were investigating “an incident”, but there were no arrests.

Simcox himself stayed in the hall for most of the day, but did come out briefly to ask supporters to come inside. As was the case with the Bridgewater event, there were no persons opposed to their activities allowed in the meeting, as well as a rather loose media ban. The media present were represented primarily by Hispanic outlets. The only media that was allowed inside was a curious selection. One outlet was News Channel 12, which at the time their cameraman entered was the only white representative of the media there. A Cuban reporter was allowed in from 77 WABC Radio, the flagship station of Minuteman supporter Sean Hannity. Spanish language television station Telemundo was also allowed in, and that station is owned by the right-leaning News Corp., which also owns the Fox News Channel, which broadcasts Hannity’s television station. Not allowed to enter was Spanish language television station Univision and Spanish language newspapers Hoy and El Diario. One reporter from a Long Island Newspaper was able to enter the meeting by not letting anyone know he was a reporter. With the exception of the two Hispanic reporters, there were no persons of color seen among the Minutemen supporters.

Those demonstrating against the Minutemen say they will be out whenever they are, and over the next month Minutemen say they will be pretty active over the next month.