Fighting the Minutemen and Far Right, Anti-Immigrant Groups

A call for an emergency response network

On Saturday, June 3, 2006 , the Minutemen and representatives from other far-right groups, including S.O.S Borders and New Yorkers for Immigration Control and Enforcement, held an anti-immigrant rally at 11am in front of the Mexican Consulate. These groups try to paint themselves as non-racist, reasonable groups that are only against "illegal immigration." But we know the truth: they patrol the border, erected their own wall and continue to harass anyone they seem to think is an "illegal" immigrant. In this climate it equals anyone that looks "Mexican." While the pro-immigrant movement has done a great job protesting against the anti-immigrant policies of the government, we need to have an equal reaction to the anti-immigrant groups and the far right.

On Saturday, we got word of the Minu temen protest right when they began. In about a half an hour more than 50 pro-immigrant activists came to counter their message of hate and racism and to show these groups they were not welcome in New York City. We were confident, often out-shouting their bull horn, and we shifted the debate in the media to include a positive pro-immigrant message. There were many news media there including the New York Times, Village Voice, New York 1, Channel 7, 9 and 5 (links to news reports below). If we hadn't been there chanting "Si se puede" and "Aqui estamos y no nos vamos" only the message of the Minutemen would have been covered on the news. Because of our actions, we shifted the debate in the media and shook the confidence of the racists on the street.

The pro-immigrant groups included: Cecomex (an East Harlem based group), Pachamama (an Ecuadorian Indigenous Rights group), members of the CUNY Coalition for Immigrant Rights and the International Socialist Organization, who heard about the counterdemonstration through phone calls, text messages and emails the same morning. This shows that with more coordination and planning, we can have a true emergency response network that can mobilize many more groups and community members. We could have completely outnumbered them and could have driven the anti-immigrant forces off the streets.

The Minutemen rallies, recent ICE raids, attacks on day laborers and the passage of anti-immigrant legislation in Congress are not disconnect events but instead they are part of a general atmosphere of scapegoating and racism that starts in the White House, works it way through Congress, into the media, on the streets and on the border. Let's form an emergency response network so we can be prepared the next time Minutemen or any others who think they can rally against immigrants. We can also talk about how to respond to reports of raids and other attacks on immigrants. Only a united and organized response will turn the tide. SI SE PUEDE Y SI SE PUDO!


email:  ghariella@gmail.com

links to media coverage of the June 3 demonstrations: