Minutemen draw flak near San Jose

CAMPBELL, Calif. — In response to the May Day pro-immigrant rights demonstrations, members of the so-called Minuteman Civil Defense Corps staged a rally here, May 12, but were unsuccessful in spreading their anti-immigrant message.

Their 10-person rally in this small town near San Jose was outnumbered 4 to 1 by local community members, including people from the South Bay Mobilization, the Raging Grannies, and youth from nearby community colleges and San Jose State University.

The Minutemen held their demonstration at the heart of the city’s shopping district located at the corner of Hamilton and Bascom avenues, otherwise known as the local “peace corner.”

At 11:30 a.m., a lonesome Minuteman planted a plethora of small American flags that competed with the yellow and orange balloons of a local jewelry store’s advertising banner at the southeast corner of the intersection.

Pro-immigrant-rights demonstrators soon arrived in small groups and began sporting signs that read: “Campbell: Hate-free zone,” “No raids,” “No human being is illegal” and “Stop border militarization.” By noon, the northeast side of the intersection was crowded with immigrant rights supporters. The pro-immigrant-rights crowd eventually spilled into the adjacent corners of the intersection, outflanking the Minutemen.

The Minutemen held signs calling for pardoning border patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, who were sentenced to 11 and 12 years in federal prison for assault with a deadly weapon and civil rights violations. A Raging Granny said their convictions stemmed from the shooting of an immigrant in the back while he was fleeing.

The demonstration was part of a series of similar actions aimed at establishing new Minuteman chapters in the Bay Area. A prior action in Redwood City was met with opposition, but it was not as strong as in Campbell.

Popular opposition to the anti-immigrant message of the Minutemen in Campbell was made abundantly clear as many passing motorists honked their car horns in support of the immigrant rights demonstrators.

Only one instance of confrontation occurred as the pro-immigrant-rights crowd neared the Minutemen’s corner. Racist remarks such as “go back to Mexico” by the Minutemen exposed their true nature and mission. The protesters were not provoked, however.

By 1:30 p.m., reinforcements from a local Latino youth group and students from Foothill College arrived and helped carry banners until the Minutemen rolled up their flags and finally left.