By Doug Porter
The 75 or so people who came to Murrieta, California on July 1st to commemorate resistance to last year’s bus blockade gathered around a stage in the Town Square park under the watchful eyes of a dozen or so police officers. Situated just few yards away behind yellow caution tape, anti-immigration types screamed obscenities and racist insults through multiple bullhorns.
As protest rallies go, there really wasn’t much to see on stage. Banners waved, speakers spoke, people applauded.
Hecklers stole the show, but not in a way they could have ever imagined. What was amazing was watching people who’ve been victimized and traumatized by racism turn the other cheek as a handful of haters did their best to try to provoke violence.
The larger group refused to take the bait. Personally, I was ready to assist if anybody wanted to re-position the bullhorns. Non-violently, of course. I’m sure we could have found some lubricant…
A mobile command post nearby signaled that the authorities were ready for trouble. The organizers of the rally had received death threats in recent days and even some people normally sympathetic to the cause urged them to re-consider staging the event. SDFP editor Anna Daniels accompanied me to Murrieta yesterday; it was clear from talking to people at the rally that they would not allow themselves to be intimidated.
This hardscrabble berg of pre-fab concrete buildings and over-powered pickup trucks isn’t exactly known for its hospitality to immigrants and their sympathizers. If you had to pick a word to describe the mood of the town, “sullen” would be my choice.
Last year Murrieta was the locale of an angry mob, gathered to block buses carrying Central American refugees to a local Border Patrol station for processing. These nativist types assembled thanks to the cooperation of certain public officials and coordination with elements of the Border Patrol officer’s union.
Eyewitnesses said the local police actually did the dirty work of turning away the refugee buses, but only after allowing the women and children inside to get a good look at the hateful reception waiting them.
After images and social media commentary went viral in July, 2014, local officials distanced themselves from the events of the day. The mayor–who’d publicly sympathized with anti-immigrant sentiments–called the “bus blockade” a black eye on the city’s reputation.
Attending this year’s rally were immigration activists, representatives from several Democratic political clubs, clergy and a contingent of young people wearing tee shirts proclaiming their undocumented status.
Much of what was said from the stage was in Spanish, which seemed to enrage the hecklers even more. The people on the stage talked about how proud they were to live in a country like the United States, with organizer Mark Lane even offering free hugs for the haters.
Here are snippets from the Press-Enterprise coverage:
Two separate gatherings were held — a pro-Border Patrol rally in the morning and a pro-migrant event in the early afternoon — but some activists against illegal immigration disrupted the afternoon rally by shouting insults, some obscene, during speeches by organizers of that event.
Behind yellow tape, the immigration activists also yelled, “Illegal aliens,” and, “You’re all a bunch of freeloaders…”
…The anti-illegal immigration activists shouted through bullhorns — some shouting obscenities — and held signs condemning illegal immigration. One sign read, “Oppression? Only if you pay taxes for illegals.”
In response, a row of women held signs, reading, “Compassion is the hallmark of America!” and “All humans have the right to live Safely!”
Activists File Suit Against Murrieta
The Los Angeles Times posted a story yesterday afternoon announcing that Pouyan Bokaei, 33, and Salvador Alejandro Chavez, 23 had filed suit against Murrieta and Riverside County alleging unlawful detention and excessive use of force.
Both were arrested during demonstrations last year showing support for immigrants after busloads of women and children refugees from Central America were prevented from going to a Border Patrol processing facility.
In the lawsuit, Bokaei and Chavez say that police had no probable cause to arrest them and that officers used unnecessary force.
Video of the incident filmed by a fellow protester and provided to The Times shows a police officer pushing Bokaei into the dirt and handcuffing his hands behind his back.
Moments later, with Bokaei subdued and lying still, the officer returns and presses his knee forcefully into Bokaei’s upper back. According to the lawsuit, three of Bokaei’s ribs were broken.
The lawsuit also describes rough treatment of Chavez, resulting in a cut on his leg that later became badly infected after Chavez was denied medical treatment while spending the night in jail.
“All together, these young men paid far too high a price for exercising their First Amendment rights,” the lawsuit said.
Madtown Feels “The Bern”
As the Republican clown car continues to acquire payload, upstart Democratic candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders is drawing large crowds to rallies around the Midwest. More than 10,000 people came to hear him speak in Madison, Wisconsin.
Salon.com’s Matthew Pulver posted a take down of one reaction to these crowds from some in the Clinton camp earlier this week:
It’s a sign of Sanders’ success that one of Clinton’s hitters was set on the ascendant candidate last Thursday, with Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” to test out some new talking points to address Sanders’ astounding crowds and climbing poll numbers. McCaskill went with the “acknowledge-then-conflate” maneuver. Sanders’ crowds are at times dwarfing those of any candidate in either party. This cannot be denied. So Team Clinton has to try to make that clear sign of success a liability.
“Well, you know, Rand Paul’s father got massive crowds, Ron Paul,” she said. “He got the same size crowds. Pat Buchanan got massive crowds. It’s not unusual for someone who has an extreme message to have a following.”
Ooooh, gotcha: Big crowds mean you’re an extremist. So the fewer people you have, the more reasonable you are. And, so, I guess if you stand at a podium before no one, just an empty field, and give a stump speech you’re the most reasonable and fringe-averse candidate ever to run for office.
Is this the best the Clinton team has right now? McCaskill endorsed Clinton for president more than two years ago, way back in 2013, but she apparently didn’t spend a whole lot of that time working on her potential talking points. It feels a little embarrassing as a tactic. Its fallacious, clumsy logic seems more suited for the YouTube comments section: You know who else got big crowds? Hitler.
Rand Paul, Persecuted Minority
Not to be outdone in trying to appeal to the we’re-not-racists set, Republican Presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul has introduced his own spin to the campaign.
— Dr. Rand Paul (@RandPaul) June 30, 2015
Janell Ross at the Washington Post made the call on this one:
We could certainly quibble with the idea that “minority” status is always defined by one’s appearance — or at Paul put it, the color of one’s skin. But that would distract attention from the really interesting part of the tweet: Paul appears to have joined a growing legion of conservative minds focused on the idea that “minority” status is a particularly potent and influential one — and according, a desirable one — in American society.
Certainly, political scientists and philosophers have made a study for decades of so-called identity politics. That’s banning together of ethnic or ideological minorities in a democratic society to advance a core set of policy ideas or political priorities and maximize their potential influence. It’s a political practice that, as Paul seemed to hint at his Denver gathering, sometimes requires those inside said group to put aside some of their differences and maximize their impact. And maybe, that’s really what Paul was going for.
How Bad Are Things for The Donald?
You know you’re doing poorly as a Republican candidate when the Union-Tribune editorial board runs with “Please, Donald Trump, Just Go Away” and says he’s the “modern iteration” of former Minnesota Gov. Harold Stassen.
Stassen, for those you who aren’t students of 20th century political history, made nine unsuccessful bids for the presidency. The UT points out that 2016 will be Trump’s sixth time, dating back to 1988 where “he has asserted that he deserves to be the most powerful man on the planet.”
The Donald is current polling in second place among candidates running for the GOP nomination.
On This Day:1776 – Richard Henry Lee’s resolution that the American colonies “are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States” was adopted by the Continental Congress. 1964 – President Johnson signed Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, forbidding employers and unions from discriminating on the basis of race, color, gender, nationality, or religion. 1991 – Axl Rose (Guns ‘n’ Roses) sparked a riot during a concert outside of St. Louis when he jumped off the stage and attacked a fan who was videotaping the concert. 60 people were hurt.
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