"[T]he fact of the matter is, we shouldn't even be having to have the conversation that there are private citizens going down there and trying to make whatever their role is. The federal government needs to be stepping up and doing this for us,"
I traveled to Tombstone, Arizona on April 1, 2005 for the kickoff of the Minuteman Project (MMP). The entire scenario resembled a Spaghetti Western movie complete with howling wind and swirling clouds of dust blowing across the two-lane highway going into town. Downtown tourist areas add to the Western mystique with "old west" storefronts, creaky raised board sidewalks, and scheduled gunfights that occur every hour. Gunslingers toted six-shooters loaded with blanks, but through the wind, dust, and blowing tumbleweeds the scene looked like part of the same movie.
I knew I was getting close to the Minuteman meeting when I saw numerous border patrol trucks parked on the side of the road. Their huge GM SUVs were emblazoned with large green stripes and bold white letters that seemed to yell: "BORDER PATROL." There were more border patrol trucks than I have ever seen in my 25 years of living in Arizona – and I have traveled to all corners of the state! Border patrol vehicles of all types lined the streets in an obvious show of force.
Many out-of-state visitors such as reporters seemed very impressed by the show while local residents scoffed at the transparent effort to act as if our government is serious about protecting the border. It would have been far more impressive if the SUVs and the personnel were on the border instead of showing off to reporters and visiting politicians.
As I approached Sheffield Hall where the MMP meetings were to be held, the first thing that I noticed was that a bunch of young white kids were banging empty plastic pails, pots, pans, and blowing loud horns. An Indian was dancing in circles and kicking his feet into the air.
At first I thought these were enlightened college kids that were protesting in favor of the MMP. As I got closer something seemed amiss when I noticed that one of the protestors was wearing an "Earth First" T-shirt. Their true intentions became clear when I saw many of them holding signs that claimed they were from the militant separatist organization called MEchA.
Most reporters who interviewed these protestors were oblivious to the fact that Caucasians would never be welcomed into MEchA because all non-Mexicans are considered to be enemies of "La Raza"; which translates to "The Race". MEchA probably staged this demonstration by recruiting idealistic young liberals from the University of Arizona in nearby Tucson.
"Everything for the race. Everything outside the race, nothing."
The Indian dancer was a member of a group of brown berets that call themselves "Danza Azteca Cuauhtemoca." MEchA's use of Indians as a symbol for open-border ideology was an insult to Native American Indians who often consider themselves the earliest victims of uncontrolled immigration. As he danced around in circles I couldn't help but think of the thousands of Aztec Indians that were slaughtered by the Spanish conquistadors; or more recently the Tohono O'odom tribe whose land that borders Mexico is being trashed by the human traffic crossing the border into native Indian territory.
Security was understandably very tight at the entrance to Sheffield Hall where the MMP orientation and kickoff meetings were held. Gangs such as MS-13 said that they would torture and kill any Minuteman that they captured, and there were potentially many other enemies that wanted to get into the closed door gathering. The usher at the entrance wouldn't let me in because I didn't have a badge. I couldn't get a badge because there wasn't enough time before the meetings. It made no difference that the usher knew me. Fortunately Frosty Wooldridge saved the day and escorted me into the building.
Rousing speeches were made during the orientation session to support the Minuteman Project. Speakers included Chris Simcox, Jim Gilchrist, Rep. Tom Tancredo from Colorado, Bay Buchanan, Frosty Wooldridge, Mark Edwards, and Russel Pearce.
It was very difficult to get into the press conference that followed the orientation speeches. I wouldn't have been allowed in if it wasn't for the fact that I was doing an on-the-spot report for VDARE.COM. The room was packed with reporters and TV cameras. It was frustrating to hear the dumb questions many of the reporters asked. Chris Simcox showed amazing tolerance towards the crowd of mostly hostile reporters even though they were on transparent witch-hunts to label the Minutemen as "vigilantes."
I couldn't help but compare Simcox to a modern version of Clint Eastwood in one of those Spaghetti Westerns—minus the cigar since Simcox probably doesn't smoke. His mild manner, soft voice, and burning passion seem to be more characteristic of the West during a different time when people had pride in their country and never gave a second thought about the need to be patriotic.
Rallies were held the next day outside of the border patrol headquarters in the small border towns of Naco and Douglas to show support for the dedicated border patrol agents and the Minutemen who were volunteering their time to protect our nation's border. Facilities at these border stations are nothing more than a few large buildings in a vast expanse of desolate desert. Naco and Douglas are separated by 25 miles of two-lane highway. Both locations are within walking distance of the border with Mexico so they were ideal staging points for the Minuteman rallies.
When I arrived at Naco for the morning rally I anticipated major confrontations between the supporters of the MMP and protestors from La Raza and MEchA. That showdown never occurred because the Mexican militants never arrived.
In the morning, while most of the crowd was at the Naco rally, La Raza and MEchA arrived at Douglas to stage a sizable protest. Nobody was there to pay attention to them because most of the reporters and TV cameras were in Naco. Directions for both rallies were posted on many websites so I can only speculate why the open-borders Mexican protestors got their signals crossed. Perhaps the protest leaders couldn't read the webpages or handouts because there were no bilingual versions available.
During the Naco rally Hispanic activist Alfredo Gutierrez was seen frantically yelling Spanish into his cellphone. He was probably trying to reassemble his troops for a protest in Naco before the media left. His anger mounted as he realized that his army of La Raza protestors had either dissipated or perhaps the border patrol arrested the majority of them for trespassing into our country. Gutierrez flailed his arms and stomped his shoes in the ground in frustration when he realized that there was not going to be a counter-protest against the MMP.
The day was a disaster for La Raza and huge public relations victory for the Minuteman supporters.
Towards the end of the morning rally in Naco people raised flags from their home states. It was inspiring to see the street lined with flags that were waved in the air from the numerous out-of-of-state activists. For the few MMP detractors that attended, this show of unity and flag waving must have been a real downer.
The afternoon rally in Douglas was orchestrated without a hitch. The only opposition in the area was a small group of college-aged kids with T-shirts that said "Legal Observer" in both English and Spanish. None of the "observers" were Mexican or Hispanic—they were all Caucasian, and it's unlikely that they could read the Spanish language on their own shirts.
Upon questioning, a few of the kids admitted that they were from the ACLU. I asked them if they wanted to learn how NAFTA contains an immigration provision (the TN visa) and surprisingly many of them were interested. About half of them accepted a flyer I made to hand out to the Minutemen.
Their senior female leader looked at me with a nasty scowl. She declined to accept a flyer.
Those legal observers didn't have much to do except watch peaceful rallies and listen to speeches. Hopefully they learned something from the speakers. You can bet that the observers were hoping to see a brawl so that they could accuse the pro-Minuteman crowd of human rights abuses. But much to their dismay the rallies were peaceful.
Crowds slowly dispersed as the day wore on, so I prepared to leave Douglas for the long drive back to Phoenix. The "Legal Observers" huddled behind a bus in order to shade themselves from the blazing sun. They looked far more anxious to go home than I was.
The legal observers followed the Minutemen during the entire 30 day border patrol in April. It must have been a very sobering experience for them because the MMP was successfully pulled off with no human rights abuses and no legal problems. Incidents of vigilantism never happened so there was nothing for the observers to report, and it's unlikely that their sponsors at the ACLU wanted to read about the accomplishments of the Minutemen. These kids had little to do but smoke dope—and they were photographed doing plenty of that!
During the thirty day project the Minutemen did a very impressive job of discouraging illegal aliens from invading our country. Desperate reporters who sought to create sensational stories about red-neck vigilantes got no more satisfaction than the legal observers from the ACLU.
The Arizona Republic newspaper has been one of the most vocal critics of the MMP in the state. Since the project was first announced the newspaper ran almost daily diatribes against them. Simcox was villainized as a criminal.
The AZR editorial board must have really been biting their tongues when they wrote this editorial on Mother's Day:
Commendably, there were no ugly confrontations, no displays of vigilantism that some feared, the U.S. Border Patrol reported. The volunteers recruited over the Internet did not disrupt regular Border Patrol operations. They displayed responsible restraint and discipline, sitting out in their lawn chairs and truck beds, peering across the border with their binoculars. Their presence and the publicity they generated undoubtedly deterred border crossers.