A right-wing group calling itself Bordertown Patriots has announced plans for a “Patriot Picnic” at Chicano Park on Saturday, February 3. While they have couched their intentions in innocuous language, disavowed rumors of provocative actions, and deny any racial animus, a history of confrontations involving their followers suggests otherwise.
The advertised goal of these reactionaries is to remove the symbolic Aztlan flag flying in the park and replace it with an American flag. Their make-me-a-martyr style of organizing requires them to claim the park is a “no-go zone” for “patriotic Americans” and the U.S. Flag is therefore banned.
A similar event in September, promoted as a Pizza Party by many of the same right-wingers, drew a handful of participants who left under police escort after one of their group acted provocatively, attracting the attention of hundreds of peaceful counter-protestors in another area of the park.
From a blog post by Roger Ogden, who claims *not* be organizing this event:
Below is a news story about a follow-on event, organized by an anonymous group, not by me this time. A slightly bigger group is expected for this next round. Since the American flag is banned at Chicano Park by the Chicano Park Steering Committee and their fascist, paramilitary enforcement arm, the Brown Berets de Aztlan, the reported main goal is simply to raise the American flag in the center of Chicano Park. The Chicanos and their fascist-Left allies equate the American flag to the Nazi flag. So, this should be a very interesting event, also.
The anonymously organized “Patriot Picnic” is just the latest in a long series of hostile actions by various extremist organizations. As Brent Beltran posted out in a post last summer:
Attacks by white supremacists and right wing groups are not something new to Chicano Park. The Minutemen tried to protest Chicano Park Day and cowered behind a police line, having to be escorted to their cars.
In the darkness of night religious fanatics have vandalized murals depicting Mesoamerican gods. Cuban exile extremists have spray painted slogans and paint bombed imagery of the Cuban Revolution. And most recently social media threats by the KKK directed at Chicano Park the night before Trump’s rally at the convention center.
Following the right wing protests and violence in Charlottesville in August, local rightist Jeff Schwilk went on Carl DeMaio’s radio talk show:
…to complain about “Nazi symbols**” and “Communists” in the murals at Chicano Park.
At Roger Ogden’s Patriot Fire, formerly known as Impeach Obama Now, the plea to contact city officials followed the admonition “Chicano Park is also a monument to the Aztecs, who performed mass human sacrifice and took part in ritualistic cannibalism. ”
Schwilk has a long history of extremist actions, including this episode documented by the Southern Poverty Law Center more than a decade ago:
On Saturday mornings, when they travel to the sleepy suburban gas stations where immigrant day laborers go to find work, they create scenes that would play well in a show called “Nativists Gone Wild.” They call immigrants “wetbacks” and “Julios.” They pull out Mace and threaten passing motorists who disagree with them. Calling those who hire day laborers “slave masters,” they’ve been known to slap flashing amber police lights on their SUVs and chase the would-be employers down. When they’re not busy physically intimidating migrants, they take to the airwaves and the Internet to accuse them, without a shred of evidence, of running child prostitution rings and practicing “voodoo Santeria rituals.“
Ogden also has a history. In recent years, he’s taken to right-wing media to whip up fear over the drug dealers invading if City Councils declare themselves to be ‘Welcoming’ (not the same as sanctuary, FWIW) and protests before the San Diego Unified School Board against “the progressive/Marxist plan to force acceptance of Islam on students under the guise of an anti-bullying program.”
Among the supporters of the so-called Bordertown Patriots, according to their Facebook page, are the III % Militia. Here’s how Vice media described them:
There are more than 10,000 Three Percenters—heavily armed Second Amendment supporters who believe their right to own firearms is under attack—scattered across the country. According to the Anti-Defamation League, many members of this “extremist movement” have gathered into small militias and adhere to the unfounded belief that only 3 percent of colonists fought in the Revolutionary War. If a small group of armed citizens could fend off the British, the thinking goes, a militia can still single-handedly battle “tyranny” today—as long as it still has guns.
Neither Ogden or Schwilk are claiming to be leading the February 3 event at Chicano Park. It would seem as though there has been some discord on the far right fringe recently, including word that the local chapter of the Proud Boys has disbanded. So it may be that these two are on the outs at the moment.
All this makes me wonder why Ogden’s newsletter has published all the correspondence from attorney Ed Rose to the City of San Diego claiming discrimination and violation of civil rights in Chicano Park. And why he’s sending out press releases.
City Attorney Mara Elliott responded to Rose’s first letter:
Chicano Park is a peaceful, family-oriented community park that is beloved by all San Diegans. It reflects our city’s commitment to cultural diversity and inclusion. As such, it has become a target for various hate groups. We hope that Mr. Rose’s clients are respectful of the people who frequent this park, as well as the laws that keep our residents safe.
Rose responded by demanding she “enforce the law or close Chicano Park.” The “if it bleeds, it leads” TV news types love this kind of wingnuttia.
Once again, community groups and Latino organizations have announced plans to show up at the same time and place to protect the park.
The Chicano Park Steering Committee has actively discouraged social media pronouncements about counter-demonstrations, those outside of the community to respect their leadership.
Here’s the announcement they posted on Facebook:
“Everyone planning to go to Chicano Park, please listen to and follow the instructions of the Chicano Park Steering Committee and the community self-defense organizations that will be providing security for our people on that day. Many who have fought for and protected our parque for decades have been strategizing and meeting to address this threat.
While Ogden may claim to be peaceful, organizations like the Alt-Knights who have publicly said they plan to come that day have demonstrated that they are violent and attend such gatherings to perpetuate violence. We need to be smart and act in a unified way, so please, if you plan on attending in support of CP, FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS OF THE CPSC AND OUR COMMUNITY SELF-DEFENSE ORGS. The only way this will turn out bad for us is if individuals go rogue that day. I recommend checking in with the CPSC at the kiosko as soon as you arrive that day to get the latest information.
Unless you are part of the CPSC or security, do not engage with these fools AT ALL, you will only harm our parque and our people if you do. They will try to incite and instigate violence, it’s what they always do. Bring your families and friends and just enjoy another beautiful day in beautiful our parque with our musica, our speakers, our arte, and our comida. We will be there to celebrate our parque and our cultura, not give these fools what they want.”
The Bordertown Patriots and their three dozen or so supporters who’ve RSVP’d for the event are hoping the local media will assist them in their endeavor to “Make America White Again.” Despite their claims to not be racist, they seek to stoke fear, discord, and division by their actions in the service of an authoritarian ideology gussied up with American flag packaging.
I, for one, trust the Barrio Logan community and the CPSC to do the right thing on February 3.
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