Volume 19 • Issue 11 | July 28- - August 3, 2006

Downtown Express photo by Jefferson Siegel

Sara Flounders, left, of the Troops Out Now Coalition, confronts Jim Gilchrist, right, co-founder of the Minutemen Project near the World Trade Center site.

Minutemen event overwhelmed by immigrant supporters

By David Spett

A small anti-immigration press conference at the World Trade Center site Wednesday was interrupted by about 100 protesters who surrounded the event and shouted at its speakers.

The press conference, held by the Minuteman Project and New Yorkers for Immigration Control and Enforcement, or NY ICE, was intended to announce the release of a new book, “Minutemen: The Battle to Secure America’s Borders.” The event was held Wednesday because it marked the 1,776th day since September 11, 2001.

“It’s a disgrace that the president will not enforce the border,” said Jerome Corsi, the co-author of “Minutemen” who has worked with Swift Vets and POWs for Truth, formerly the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which attacked Sen. John Kerry’s war record during the 2004 presidential campaign. “I want to preserve the middle class and not see it destroyed by under-market workers.”

The Minuteman Project’s goal is to stop illegal immigration by monitoring the Mexican border and alerting the Border Patrol to suspicious activity. They favor the most stringent anti-immigration measures passed by the House, including criminalizing clergy who assist illegal immigrants.

The project’s founder, Jim Gilchrist, pointed to the W.T.C. and said illegal immigration caused the attacks of September 11, 2001.

“Behind me, you can see the consequences of non-enforcement of our immigration laws,” he said, flanked by a poster stating “Mexico: Clean Up Your Own House.”

About 25 people attended the press conference. Many of the speakers stressed their support for legal immigration.

Several times, protesters interrupted the speakers. Just one minute into the event, about 25 protesters marched toward the press conference, chanting, “Get up, get down, let’s kick the Minutemen out of this town.” Police ushered them across the street.

“Nazi’s a nice word for you guys. Hitler did everything under law,” screamed Diana Crowder, who was standing among members of the press. Crowder is a member of the May 1 Coalition, which organized the pro-immigration protest.

About a half-hour into the Minuteman event, the protesters crossed Liberty St. and approached the press conference, banging on drums and chanting, “Racists, go home.” Speeches ceased and the event erupted into chaos for about five minutes.

“Anti-immigrant, racist bashing is not welcome,” said Sharon Black, a volunteer organizer for the May 1 Coalition. “Dividing people by nationality or status is not only unjust, it hurts people right here. Minutemen are like the [Ku Klux] Klan.”

Jim Russell, the Republican Congressional candidate in New York’s 18th district, attended the press conference to support the organizers. He said that protests are typical in New York City but that the police seemed understaffed.

After the press conference ended, shouting matches continued between anti- and pro-immigration activists.

“U.S.A. all the way,” chanted the press conference attendees.

“Go back to Jersey, you [expletive],” one man said in response.


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