Racism, Lies and Videotape
A statement from ANSWER Florida
Nov. 17, 2009
On Nov. 14, several white supremacist organizations, including the Minutemen and Americans for Legal Immigration Political Action Committee (ALIPAC), initiated Anti-Amnesty Tea Parties across the country. The rally in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, included people holding racist signs like "Spay and Neuter Your Mexican" and chants such as “white power.”
The ANSWER Coalition, which has been on the front lines of the immigrant rights struggle for years, initiated a counter-demonstration in Fort Lauderdale.
ALIPAC has created a video that has been circulated widely depicting a confrontation between the two sides. This video is a propaganda piece meant to distort the realities of what took place.
ANSWER Florida organized the demonstration to show political opposition to the message of racism put forward by these organizations. The demonstration gathered on the opposite street corner from the “Anti-Amnesty” rally. At no point did the ANSWER demonstrators cross over to the location of the other rally.
The one-and-a-half minute ALIPAC video leaves out the violent assault by the Tea Party organizer that took place several minutes before the video begins.
In the first attack, a right-wing videographer came into the pro-immigrant rights demonstration area. He physically assaulted an immigrant rights demonstrator. He also carried out property damage by kicking the signs and literature. This was not in the video. Although they could have physically acted in self-defense in response to this provocation and assault, the immigrant rights demonstrators did not. Rather, at this point, the ANSWER organizers chanted for the man to return to his side.
The second time the right-wing videographer came into the pro-immigrant rights demonstration area, he was accompanied by David Caulkett, vice president of the racist, anti-immigrant Floridians for Immigration Enforcement. Both men began to assault demonstrators. The videographer began to swing his tripod in a violent manner, threatening the crowd. This was also not in the video.
All of these incidents are left out of the video that has been circulated, depriving viewers of important facts.
The video only begins when the right-wing videographer violently grabbed the megaphone of the pro-immigrant rights demonstrators. Those at the pro-immigrant rights demonstrators defended themselves by expelling those who were perpetuating violence against them.
The right-wing video falsely claims that the confrontation ended when the police arrived. That too is a lie. The siren heard in the background of the video is not a police car arriving at the scene but rather of a passing fire truck. The incident ended when the Tea Party provocateurs, having failed in their attack, walked away and back to the site of their rally.
The intimidation tactics of the Tea Party forces is alarming to many people from various communities. In August, they felt emboldened to bring arms to Town Hall meetings and engaged in other mob-type tactics designed to intimidate any progressive opponent. Fascist-type organizing during the summer months used health care reform as a pretext. But these far-right ideologues are organizing on many fronts.
City residents told pro-immigrant rights demonstrators that they are being negatively impacted by these anti-immigrant, racist hate groups who have been gathering at the same location on a weekly basis for almost a year. At another point on Nov. 14, one right-wing rally participant sped up his large truck and aimed it toward an African American pro-immigrant rights protester who was standing on the sidewalk. Bus riders and shoppers reported being scared and intimidated. One woman said she walked to a different bus stop to avoid them as they blocked the sidewalks. These racist demonstrators reported on the radio that local police officers where giving them “thumbs up” as they were terrorizing the residents and shoppers in the community.
The initiators of the right-wing, racist “Anti-Amnesty” demonstrations across the country are either supporters or members of armed vigilante groups whose sole purpose is to violently confront workers whose only crime is coming to this country to try to feed their families. The comments that have been written on conservative blogs have largely been calling on these right-wing protesters to come to future demonstrations armed and to shoot counter-demonstrators that show up to offer political opposition to their message. The spinning of the events in Fort Lauderdale by groups like ALIPAC to make the Tea Party demonstrators the victims only further conceals their true violent intentions and political motivations.
The ultra-right and fascist forces are feeling emboldened right now. They have Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, Glenn Beck and other right-wing mouthpieces in the mass media pumping out hate, hysteria and xenophobia seven days a week. It would be a serious mistake to minimize the danger posed by pro-fascist elements in the United States.
Times have changed, so the hoods, white robes and swastikas have been removed as the primary symbols of the ultra right, but the core, poisonous message has only been repackaged.
It is imperative that unions, civil rights groups, and organizations representing women’s rights, immigrant rights and the LGBT community recognize their common interests, stand together and mobilize together to defeat the anti-people and bigoted program of the far right.
The ultra right will only become more emboldened unless there is a concerted effort to organize opposition by those who are struggling to win democratic rights for all working people, regardless of immigration status. We will not be intimidated. We will continue to defend ourselves and our communities.