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San Jose Tea Party: account from immigrants rights, antifascist counterprotestor
On confronting Minutemen and fascists in San Jose at the 4/15/09 Tea Party
I and other immigrants rights supporters heard on Monday via email that the minutemen (wanna be kkk vigilantes that arm themselves and patrol the border with Mexico, or at least organize to support those who do that) were co-convening the tax day tea parties in the Bay Area. Numerous groups mobilized immediately and turned out 40 people who were willing to risk a direct confrontation with the minutemen and their allies in San Jose. Dozens more who could not afford to risk direct confrontation (since it might lead to arrest if things got out of hand) but who were willing to come and bear witness to the mixture of anti-tax anger (which I certainly can sympathize with, especially regarding the criminal multi-trillion dollar bailouts for the rich and their bankers) and the minutemen's racist anti-immigrant scapegoating.
I was with the group of 40 students and community folks when we marched from SJSU to the park and I must say that in my experience with confrontational protests, this one involved the most physical contact of what I have ever seen. There seemed to be an unspoken recognition on both sides that fists and kicks would draw police intervention from the riot cops lining Market street off of Cesar Chavez park. That didn't stop enraged tea partiers from stepping on our feet and shoving us, but we just kept chanting "No More Borders, Sin Fronteras". The ten or so most confrontational of the rabid spittle spraying screamers, all angry middle aged or older white guys, some of whom smelled like beer, delivered the "angry-white-guy-belly-attack" where they get their face an inch away from yours while they scream obscenities at you and rub their bellies on you to intimidate you into backing up. They got even madder when we didn't back up and continued to chant "El Pueblo Unido Jamas Sera Vencido" into their faces in spite of the rain of spittle and cussing. Also, these folks tried half a dozen times to grab the bullhorn away from the young latino man who led the chants for almost two hours (very impressive). As we chanted, we used our bodies to keep the teabaggers away from the bullhorn and moved to side of the stage, weaving through the very hostile crowd.
After one of us was pushed off the back of the stage steps, the riot cops moved in between the two groups since rightists kept getting into our faces. We continued to chant, and if you are ever confronted with hundreds of right-wingers chanting "USA, USA, USA" in order to drown you out, just use the same three syllable rhythm and insert things like "Human Rights." Works like a charm and they quiet right down. On a lighter note, a right-winger with a sense of humor started throwing little packets of koolaid mix over the heads of the police at us. We laughed. At one point a very spunky young anarchist was knocked to the ground by a cop's batton for "getting too close" to him, or just protesting exuberantly and clapping and chanting which is what we all saw. Both sides kept their cool pretty well and as the teabaggers had thinned out, we left without incident.
We will be there to confront any scapegoating of immigrants or vulnerable workers, so minutemen, don't come back! To the organizers of the tea party: think ahead, clean house, and don't associate with the minutemen or other known racists or fascists unless you want us to crash your party, because we will. Count on it.
Immigrants rights supporters, be sure to turn people out for May 1st at the corner of Story and King in San Jose at 4p because:
-May 1st 2006 was the largest general strike in the history of the U.S. when immigrants and their supporters declared "El Gran Paro" and marched by the millions across the U.S. to stop HR 4437 which attempted to criminalize and deport immigrants.
-May 1st is international workers day (celebrated everywhere on earth but the U.S. where the 1886 strike for the 8-hour day and the execution of the Haymarket Anarchists in Chicago led the 2nd International to proclaim May 1st international workers day), and we workers need to talk about what to do about the class war being waged against us by the bankers, politicians, and the rich. We will not allow immigrants or people of color to be scapegoated for the crimes of the rich and their servants.