Report back from Counter-Protest Against Anti-Immigrant Racists
north america / mexico |
Friday June 30, 2006 05:14 by crudo - D.A.A.A. Collective modanarcho at yahoo dot com 1 (866) 457 4230
Modesto Stands Up Against Xenophobia
DAAA Collective report on countering Save Our State, a racist and xenophobic anti-immigrant group, as well as the associated white nationalists who showed up to support.
Report Back from Save Our State Counter Protest D.A.A.A. Collective
In late May of 2006, organizers with the Modesto California based Direct Action Anti-Authoritarians (DAAA) Collective, teamed up with Aztlan Rising, (also of Modesto), to organize against Save Our State, an anti-immigration group trying to get a foot hold in this area. Aztlan Rising is a group that had just helped to organize the massive May Day demonstrations in Modesto, in which over 10,000 took part. After initial meetings and long nights of flyer designing work, several outreach texts were made in Spanish and in English (1) , and we got to work getting them out to the community.
Soon Save Our State got wind of this new development, and we also got wind that white nationalist members of the online “Stormfront” community would be attending (2) the rally in support of Save Our State. Save Our State members/supporters also made a barrage of racist and stupid comments on their online forums, some of them equating all Chicanos and Mexicanos with being gang members, and also stating that all parents who had allowed their children to skip out of school on May 1st were “genetically stupid” (3) , among other things. Save Our State Modesto leader ‘Proudnation’ issued a statement (4) over the Modesto Bee forums asking that people attending the rally not to “[use] any form of hate speech, any race-baiting, or display any sign that can be perceived as such”, while not explicitly telling white nationalist groups to stay away from the event. Several days before the event, Proudnation posted up on the SOS forums that the police were concerned about “neo-Nazi” activity at the protest (5) , and Proudnation asked those attending the rally to call him to get the info. What was probably discussed in these conversations with SOS supporters and Proudnation, was actually getting people out to the protest spot before the opposition was to get there, which was an hour before the SOS rally was supposed to begin.
title or descriptionSure enough, Save Our State showed up at their protest spot at 10AM, a full two hours before they said they were going to be there, and a full hour before we got there. Among the early birds was “Zoe”, the poster on Stormfront.org, who posted that she was organizing other white nationalists to come out to support the Save Our State rally (6) . Proudnation was aware of Zoe’s email address at this time, and it is very likely that she had some contact with Proudnation before, and knew along with the other members out at 10 AM to come out early. It appears fascists are welcomed with open arms as long as they are not visibly fascist. SOS supporters at the rally even admitted to knowing she was there, and who she was with. One SOS supporter wrote on a forum, “…Zoe. I spoke to her too. We all know that you cannot control who shows up at a rally and we also know that there are some participants who do NOT reflect the opinions of the rest of a group. (7) ” Another person at the rally stated on camera that he was a neo-Nazi, and had a t-shirt with logos of white power bands (8) , this can be seen in a video produced by Aztlan Rising. It is important to point out once again that neo-Nazi organizers are quick to jump on the bandwagon of SOS’s politics, because they see it as a prime recruiting ground for participants within their movement (9) . When protestors chanted, “SOS what do you say, how many Nazis are here today?”, the question was for real. Counter protests tried to talk to several SOS supporters and tell them that they were being supported by white power groups, they brushed these accusations aside as lies. Whatever their excuses, the reality was that the racist right probably had its best Modesto event in years, all thanks to Save Our State.
Things were now getting heated, as both sides not occupied the same corner, and both groups having about 40 people on each side (10) . Chants of “What is the Enemy?: White Supremacy!”, were heard. Some people had civil discussions, but most turned into heated shouting matches. This actually worked in our favor, because we had lots of flyers, and as people passed by in their cars and looked at the strange commotion going on, we passed out information into the hands of those interested. The arguments of the Save Our State people was the standard fare. “They are taking our jobs”, “they are a burden on the tax payer”, and that “their culture is polluting ours”, etc. Immigrants have always been a huge part of the American economy, because the American economy has always been based largely on the exploitation of cheap immigrant labor; whether it has been Irish, Chinese, African American, or Mexican immigrants. Immigrants contribute millions of dollars into the tax system, and often can’t get back the benefits they pay into. Despite the millions that they pay into, according to a study by Chapman University:
“…undocumented immigrants are barred from almost all government benefits, including food stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Medicaid, federal housing programs, Supplemental Security Income, Unemployment Insurance, Social Security, Medicare, and the earned income tax credit (EITC). Generally, the only benefits federally required for undocumented immigrants are emergency medical care…”(11)
Save Our State supporters also are largely blind to the fact that illegal immigration has dramatically increased since the passing of NAFTA. This largely has been caused by NAFTA prohibiting agriculture subsidies towards the Mexican agricultural market. While US farmers continue to get large subsidies, many Mexican businesses go under, and workers are forced to illegally go across the border to search for agricultural work (12) . Capital and jobs flow from one labor market to another, putting out of work thousands, while workers are stuck in those labor markets, trapped behind borders. The logic towards illegally crossing then becomes clear. Some SOSers do admit that corporations, and ‘free trade’ is somewhat to blame, yet they see the main problem created by it as illegal immigration. Instead of concentrating their energy at opposing the system that forces people to come here to support their families, (something that Save Our State leader Joe Turner in an interview said he would do in their place (13) ), Save Our State focuses on opposing those most impacted by the realities of capitalist globalization. What is interesting is that they constantly talk of the state as putting a “band aid” on the problem of illegal immigration, yet fail to address the reasons which are causing forced immigration in the first place. Their solution of a hugely militarized border, (which would largely only result in more deaths of border crossers), holds the same logic that harsher drug laws will somehow win the ‘war on drugs’. More force and institutional violence won’t end social and economic realities, they will only make them worse.
title or description Yet it is the xenophobia, and nativism which seems to be the major reason for many SOSers for getting involved with anti-immigration activism. The belief that outside cultures are destroying and polluting “ours”, (which begs the question that if it’s ‘our’ culture, how can people tell us what it has to be?). This is the reason that groups like Save Our State are such a breeding ground for white nationalist groups, because while many SOSers claim that they are not racist, they are simply masking their hatred and racism towards other cultures and people behind a veil of being against “illegals”.
title or description Towards the end of the protest, Save Our State pulled out its secret weapon, an anti-immigrant protestor from Fremont, James Glenn. Starting almost at his arrival, Glenn tried to provoke the people in the crowd with insults and cursing. As he was quoted in the Modesto Bee several times saying, "You're illegal. Your mama's illegal; your daddy is illegal. Go home!" Glenn yelled at the counter-demonstrators. "You're a queer; your mama's a queer; your daddy's a queer. We all know where you live. Send them home." Several Save Our State protestors tried to state that Glenn was not speaking for them, and one person stated that they left after Glenn started making homophobic statements (14) . The same person also suggested that he was getting in people’s faces because he wanted to get into a physical altercation with counter-protestors (15) . Proudnation, ‘leader’ of the protest, understood to a degree that the article showed them in a bad light. “WE do not need this sort of coverage (16) ”, he wrote on the Save Our State forums. Although it was set till 3pm, the SOSers packed it up around 2pm, and headed out. A reporter passing us while we were sitting in the shade drinking water said in a joking mode, “Well, looks like you won.”
It is unclear what Save Our State’s next move in Modesto will be. Proudnation so far has been quiet in regards to the white nationalists showing up in support of the protest, and as of yet there are no plans made for another protest in Modesto. One activist based out of the nearby town of Turlock is trying to get another rally going , so solidarity between opponents of these xenophobes is still needed.
See you in the streets.
1 Copies of these flyers can be found on either aztlanrising.com or modanarcho.tk.
10 Number totals based on Modesto Bee article.