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All Quiet on the Southern Front

report from Santa Cruz participants in the joint actions against the Friends of the Border Patrol and the Minutemen
All Quiet on the Southern Front:
a report from the Santa Cruz Minute Maids

On Saturday, September 17, Friends of the Border Patrol (FBP)'s plans to begin border activities were preemptively shut down as activists from across the state banded together for a mass disruption. Caravans swept through border regions surrounding Calexico and Jacumba in search of vigilantes, focusing on areas of high border activity and previous Minuteman sightings, but found all to be quiet on the southern front.

At 8:00 am, protesters met prospective trainees for the self-appointed civilian border policing group, Friends of the Border Patrol, at the Scottish Rite Masonic Center in San Diego. They banged pots and pans, held banners, obstructed entrances, and called for an end to racist violence. Aspiring border patrollers attempted two citizen’s arrests against protesters. One arrestee, a white male, was released immediately. The second, a Latino, was held inside a cop car for about an hour before being released with a citation for battery. Although this protest had seemed to be merely a prelude to the main event, it turned out to be crucial: Friends of the Border Patrol’s failure to mobilize significant numbers for their planned launch that weekend was blamed in part on intimidation by the morning’s resistance.

At 5:00pm, we joined the "Stop the Vigilantes" march and rally at the International Park in Calexico. Organized by the Gente Unida coalition and Citizens for Peaceful Borders Committee, this spirited march drew some 300 participants from across California despite the nearly 100-degree heat.

Marchers headed into the streets of downtown Calexico after preliminary speeches at the park. Many chanted, "arriba, arriba, los migrantes, abajo, abajo, los vigilantes" ("up with, up with, the immigrants, down with, down with, the vigilantes"). Mexican flags mingled with red and black anarchist flags and red socialist flags.

Within a few blocks, the march approached the border fence, a structure of closely spaced twenty-foot tall metal bars reinforced with a dense chain-link. A corresponding march from the Mexican side of the border, in Mexicali, went to the fence as well. Both sides loudly chanted and rhythmically pounded on the fence, and a spontaneous cross-border volleyball game erupted.

A few people, mainly on the Mexicali side, scaled the fence to wave flags or hang banners, including the resonant "somos un pueblo sin fronteras" ("we are a people without borders"). Mexican activists also hoisted an effigy of a border vigilante as a KKK member. One masked anarchist on the US side even managed to puncture a small hole in the fence. On the whole, it was a moment of intensity that highlighted ties of solidarity across the border as well as the physical violence of the wall as it divides.

Eventually, with resounding chants, the march turned from the fence back toward Calexico, ending at the Calexico City Hall Park. The concluding rally featured speakers from many of the sponsoring organizations. Some challenged the border directly while others focused specifically on the Minutemen and other border vigilantes.

Shortly after the rally had concluded, plainclothes police officers detained one activist from Fresno for allegedly writing graffiti in the park restroom. He was later released, but Calexico police reportedly escorted the entire Fresno contingent of no border activists out of the city.

After the conclusion of daytime activities, dozens of
organizers gathered in a Calexico park to break up
into affinity groups and plan courses of action. One
caravan left for Jacumba, while the others patrolled
routes within a fifteen-mile radius east and west of
Calexico, communicating with each other through a
centralized cell phone network.

Search teams found nothing along the border except for
Homeland Security, Fish and Game, and Border Patrol
vehicles, as well as two armed fishermen, yet kept up
their counter-vigil long into the night.

Finally on Sunday, US and Mexican anarchists met in Mexicali to exchange plans, thoughts, ideas, and hopes for future cross-border/anti-border collaborations.

For a mass convergence to be able to intimidate the
FBP into retreat with little direct conflict is a
tribute to the power of nonviolent mass action. Due
to unexpected low turnout, a clear lack of support in
the surrounding area, and a highly mobilized
anti-racist community, the vigilantes have been forced
into hiding.

Though slightly disappointed at not being able to
confront any FBP members this weekend, one San Diego
organizer stated she was "much happier to prevent the
vigilantes from coming out at all."
 
 


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Reportback from the Border, Thursday 9/29

This is an invitation to the Santa Cruz Minute Maids and everyone else!

Learn about what people are doing in Southern California to oppose border vigilantes like the California Minutemen and Friends of the Border Patrol.

Jen from Richmond Indymedia was in San Diego in early August to document resistance to border vigilantes and returned this month to witness the failure of the Friends of the Border Patrol at the hands of grassroots mobilizing. This presentation includes video from San Diego IMC, Jen's own video and also a short presentation on immigration.

Thursday, September 29
7:00 - 9:00 PM

Resource Center for NonViolence
515 Broadway at Ocean
Santa Cruz
 

Taking Responsibility for the Illegals

When you are ready to take illegal aliens into your house, pay their insurance, and support them in various monetary and non-monetary ways until they are fully self-supporting citizens who are in no way subsidized by the government, then you will have credibility in my eyes. (This includes no Section 8 housing, food stamps, etc.)

When you are ready to go to the border, and let one or more illegal aliens into your car, and into your house, and into your lives, and support them financially, then your opposition of the minutemen will make sense.

Otherwise, you are just blowing smoke. You are saying. "Let anyone into this country, but I'm not going to deal with it. Someone else should deal with it."

Maybe you will say you are dealing with the needs of illegal aliens by making donations of time or money to organizations aiding illegal aliens.

But that's not really dealing with the total needs of illegal aliens. That's paying lip service. You aren't taking full responsibility for helping these people cross the border. You're just making feel-good donations.

Instead, I want to see you take real, direct complete responsibility for illegal aliens you are struggling to allow into this country.

There is a saying: With ham and eggs,the chicken made a donation, but the pig has made a COMMITMENT.

Going down to the border for quick adventure facing off the minutemen is not solving the problem of supporting the illegal aliens. It is simply a case of your going to the border for a romantic jolt of energy that makes you feel noble, but then not having to take responsibility for the repercussions. Actually, it is a form of escapism.

Are you courageous enough to acknowledge the sense of what I am saying? I am guessing that you aren't yet able to be so honest with yourself.
 

Re: All Quiet on the Southern Front

Harold,

Please be careful about making so many personal judgements about the ideals, motives, and lives of activists just from reading about an action. When you see slogans like "Somos un pueblo sin fronteras/We are a people without borders" or "Ninguna persona es ilegal/No human being is illegal," it doesn't mean we're proposing the instantaneous demolition of the Mexican/American border as a solution. These messages are an attempt to break down the way people view these borders and labels and to realize the humanity of all people, regardless of nationality or legal status.

Those of us who went down from Santa Cruz are all dedicated activists who are always looking for positive long-term solutions to the social problems we face. Living in northern California, there isn't a lot of regular organizing we can do about border issues, but we used the No Border actions as an opportunity to do what we could. We spent our extra time after the actions meeting with organizers across the border and attempting to set up cross-border networks for future vigilante disruption.

However, most of us have also been organizing year-round around the issue of mistreatment of low-wage service workers at UCSC, which is a primarily immigrant workforce. Establishing a network of student and worker solidarity based on the goals of equitable treatment, real opportunities for advancement, and living wages at a campus which happens to be the largest employer in the county is one way in which social justice for people who have immigrated can be tackled in our own community.

Students on campus have also organized to coerce the UC into actually living up to its "Code of Ethics" that bans the purchasing of goods made in sweatshops.

You suggest individual caretaking of immigrants as a solution to the problem of illegal immigration and a test of dedication to the issue. I think if the resources and willingness existed for this to happen on a mass scale, it would be wonderful. But otherwise, there is a shortsightedness in helping a few people at a time while leaving intact the socioeconomic structures that have forced them into poverty in the first place. You can trim the edges of problems as much as you want, but they won't disappear until you pull them up by the roots.
 

Re: All Quiet on the Southern Front

It's nice that you want to allow illegal immigrants into the country...that is what you want, correct? If not, how do you actually propose dealing with the onslaught. Open borders is a great concept but I don't see it being a real solution. If it was, just give me your home address so I can make myself at home in your home and use your car, etc etc, etc.
 

Re: All Quiet on the Southern Front

Per the media available to the public, members of your herd did, in fact, partake in violent action. Look up the word violent sometime. Punching someone isnt violent? Blaring a bullhorn on siren mode into someones ear does fall under the definition of violent. Our plans remained the same. Our ops ran as planned. We were out there in the field. We still are.
 

Re: All Quiet on the Southern Front

Regardless of whether or not you percieve their actions/organizations to be racist, attempting to prevent them from meeting together by use of intimidation is a violation of their first amendment right.

Tactics such as these do nothing but damage your cause in the eyes of many.
 

Re: All Quiet on the Southern Front

Your activism hasn't even come near to pulling any roots. While you may have made some people's lives a tiny bit less oppressive, you have not freed them, nor have you solved the real problem of American society. Likewise, while individual caretaking may help free a few individuals, it does not solve the problem. These are all good actions, but they are not enough. The metaphorical roots of this problem though, are tightly buried within society and people's minds, and will be extremely hard to pull out. But if we try to solve the problem where it occurs locally, and this happens everywhere, the roots will eventually also be destroyed. Of course, this is also very difficult to accomplish. But we are fighting for our and other's LIVES here. We will have to fight as best we can, in any way we can.
 

Re: All Quiet on the Southern Front

Anon Poster 1 - Like I briefly said in my last post, I don't propose the instantaneous demolition of the Mexican/American border as a solution to the problem. I would hope that actions such as these would highlight the often inhuman treatment of illegal immigrants and inspire some people to question some of the "borders" that exist between human beings - divisions like racism and nationalism that allow some people to feel superior to others, and therefore deserving of better lives. Many American taxpayers justify not wanting to fund health/education services for illegal immigrants because of sentiments like "Why should I give THEM some of MY hard-earned money" because they don't personally identify with immigrants. But that gets reflected on the macro scale by a system using their taxes to militarily enforce a national border while thousands of lives are ruined or ended because of lack of access to basic needs.

Anon Poster 2 - Marches, sit-ins, and indirect disruptions (like banging drums and flashing lights on vigilantes on the border to disrupt their actions) are nonviolent tactics. Their aims are either to highlight or publicize certain political messages (as in the case of marches) or to directly disrupt the actions of target groups, without physical coercion. I'm not aware of anybody being punched, but if that was so, it was the individual's own action - punching isn't related to the tactics or goals of marches, sit-ins, or indirect disruption. If one person was punched at the Million-Man March, I hardly think anyone could characterize the march itself as a violent action. The point is, the groups involved were engaging in a campaign to raise awareness of border issues, provoke meaningful dialogue (which is happening right here), and to directly intervene in vigilante activities using methods that are far more nonviolent and community-based than toting a gun along the border.
You also speak of vigilantes still being out there. I bet they are. I also bet that the anti-vigilante actions throughout the last year have had a big hand in hampering operations and recruitment and turning the tide of public opinion. That was the goal.

n5667 - Vigilantes can exercise their right of free speech like anyone else, but I'll do what I can to disrupt them from endangering the lives of people crossing the border. That isn't a First Amendment right.

Anon Poster 3 - Very well-put. No, these actions didn't pull up any roots, but hopefully they've expanded upon the grassroots networks that, if they continue to grow, may someday be able to form a more direct challenge the problems at hand. Activism always needs to combine effective direct action with solid, long-term movement building. Think globally, act locally, right?
 

Re: All Quiet on the Southern Front

So my post got taken down.

In it I was saying that many many other groups have come into this country LEGALLY as opposed to illegally.

These groups have managed to make it despite facing, in many cases, far more opppressive socioeconomic circumstances. I'm talking about the Jews, the Italians, the Japanese, the Chinese, and so forth.

Yet, somehow, we're supposed to look the other way when the Mexicans come into this country illegally...? We're supposed to conveniently ignore that they are breaking the laws of this country that the people's representatives have enacted? We're supposed to somehow think this is a special case, that they, and not the others, have to follow the rules?

Minute Maid seems to indirectly endorse this notion.

You maligned the sentiment:

"Why should I give THEM some of MY hard-earned money"

I think the sentiment that hits the nail more on the head is:

Why should I let the Minute Maids decide that the entire country is going to give lawbreakers economic support, after the entire country had ALREADY decided that illegal aliens are illegal?

Think globally, act locally, you say. OK, I am. I am bringing it down to a very local level. I am bringing it down to YOU.

You are deciding not to follow the rules the people have enacted, by subtly endorsing the illegal entry of aliens across the borders. You are deciding, through your actions, to make moral pronouncements about who should come into this country, and you are very willing to have others pick up the tab, and yet NOT WILLING to put your money where your mouth is by taking illegal aliens into your home. You are saying, "I don't care what laws the people have enacted, we are going to abet the illegal entry of aliens, and you, the people, are going to pay for it. I have spoken."

Note carefully: I have no problem with the poor and oppressed coming into this country. Our country has been built in large measure by the oppressed and impoverished. I am merely saying that it is not OK for the oppressed and impoverished to come into this country by breaking the laws that this country's people have enacted.

Sure it would be great if the whole world were one nation without physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual borders. But the reality, today, is that we're are made up of nations, and there are indeed borders and laws. Please abide by them.

I wonder if this post will make the cut, or if it, too, will get deleted?
 

Re: All Quiet on the Southern Front

Hey, Ant -

It seems you're trying to reply to an argument like "I think you should give money to illegal immigrants." If that was so, then your comments might apply more directly. However, that message is far removed from everything that I've been trying to express. Nothing's as simple as that.

Think about the rationale of being an illegal person. Imagine what it's like to risk life and limb just for the opportunity to do sweatshop labor. Place yourself for a moment in the shoes of someone who can't take their extremely ill spouse to the hospital because they'll be deported. Ask yourself why it's so hard to identify with people in these situations. Try to explain how it makes sense that these are regular occurences within the richest country on the planet. The message of the action was to ask people to empathize with the lives of other people in this way.

Don't forget, I'm an American taxpayer. I'm entitled to my opinion of where my money should go, just as you are... so it's a bit far-fetched to claim that, in doing so, I and the other four to six people in the Minute Maid affinity group decided that the entire country was going to "give lawbreakers economic support" or anything else. None of us are legislators, we don't make those decisions.

The phrase "Think globally, act locally" doesn't mean pick someone local to argue with. It means to think about the global impacts of your actions and then organize to initiate change in your own community. We voiced our opinions in political action so that they would have some physical impact on the outside world. You should feel encouraged to do the same.
 

wanted to add...

that I was in another part of the country recently, a place far, far away from Mexico. I was really, really suprized to wake up one morning, go to the local service station and see about twenty men of Mexican origin out trying to get day labor. At that moment it dawned on me that the situation for many, many people in Mexico (and most parts of the world) is dire. Would you leave your family and travel thousands of miles away to be day laborer?

How can anyone blame them for trying to get into the US? They most likely are hereos in their communities, not criminals.
 

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