Thursday, September 07, 2006

Minuteman Movement comes to Kansas

Christina Woods reports in Wednesday's Wichita Eagle on the formation of a Minuteman chapter in Overland Park which apparently has intentions of going statewide. She writes

A retired police officer is recruiting Kansas residents to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border or to stay closer to home to identify and report illegal immigrants to federal authorities.

Ed Hayes is recruiting Kansans to join the state's first chapter of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, based in Overland Park.

Area Hispanics say they're concerned that the group will discriminate against legal and American-born residents, but Hayes says they shouldn't be.

"We will not accept bigots, racists of any kind, any members of extremist groups or anybody with a criminal background into our group," said Hayes, who began organizing the group in June.

In fact, the Minuteman movement and its leaders have been deeply intertwined with the racist, far right almost from their very inception. Nor do they have a track record of excluding people with criminal records.
  • Chris Simcox, co-founder of the Minuteman Project and a top national anti-immigration leader, was arrested in 2003 by federal park rangers for carrying a weapon illegally while tracking border-crossers on federal parkland.
  • When Minuteman co-founder Jim Gilchrist ran for Congress in a 2005 special election, he ran as an American Independent Party (AIP) candidate. The AIP was created to support the 1968 campaign of arch-segregationist George Wallace. AIP was founded by William K. Shearer, who also served on the National Executive Committee of the white supremacist Populist Party in the 1980s.
  • Neo-Nazis volunteered for [Minuteman co-founder] Jim Gilchrist's recent congressional campaign and distributed racist propaganda at Gilchrist rallies with the full knowledge of the Minuteman Project co-founder and his campaign managers, according to a former Gilchrist campaign volunteer whose account is supported by photographs, video footage and postings on the white supremacist Web site Stormfront.

    "They were basically allowing Skinheads and white nationalists to work the phone banks and do IT [computer work] and distribute National Alliance fliers targeting non-whites," Cliff May, a dance instructor in Orange County, Calif., told the Intelligence Report. "When I told Mary [Gilchrist's finance manager] and Eldon [Gilchrist's grassroots coordinator] that I didn't want to work for a campaign that was tainted by white supremacy in any way, they told me not to cause a stir."When I kept bringing it up, they kicked me out."

    --The Intelligence Report (Spring 2006) the Southern Poverty Law Center report
  • Early this year, white supremacist and neo-Nazi Web sites began openly recruiting for the Minuteman Project. In response, Gilchrist and Simcox proclaimed that neo-Nazi Skinheads and race warriors from organizations such as the National Alliance and Aryan Nations were specifically banned from participating. Pressured by journalists to explain exactly how they planned to keep these undesirables out, the two organizers said they were working with the FBI to carefully check the backgrounds of all potential Minuteman volunteers, only to have the FBI completely deny this was the case.

    Gilchrist and Simcox further claimed to the media prior to April 1 that the only volunteers who would be allowed to carry firearms would be those who had a concealed-carry handgun permit from their home states, an indication that they had passed at least a cursory background investigation. In fact, virtually no one was checked for permits.

--Intelligence Report Summer 2005

  • While most of the Minuteman volunteers were not organized racists, at least one member of Aryan Nations infiltrated the effort, and Johnny and Michael said they were two of six members of the Phoenix chapter of the National Alliance who signed up as Minuteman Volunteers. They said the other four had arrived separately in two-man teams in order to cover more ground and be less conspicuous. They said the Alliance members came out to support the Minuteman Project, but also to recruit new members
--Intelligence Report Summer 2005

  • In a torturous interview with labor reporter John Earl, Gilchrist revealed just how racialized his own view are, even while in the process of denying the he or the Minutemen are motivated by racism. When Earl calls Gilchrist to account for the Confederate flag present at a Minuteman rally, pictures of which are posted to the organizational website, Gilchrist first tries to deny it, then disclaims all knowledge, and finally agrees that it will be taken down. The photos, however, remain as of this date (August 14, 2005) on the website and there is no way to “take down” the presence of this symbol of white supremacy from the April 2, 2005 rallies that kicked off the Arizona project in the towns of Naco and Douglas.
    --Center for New Community, Building Democracy Initiative Shell Games: The “Minutemen” and Vigilante Anti-Immigrant Politics, p.8
  • Bill Parmley as leader of the Goliad, Texas Minuteman affiliate, as well as from his position as President of the newly forming Texas chapter as a whole is a case in point. In his resignation, Parmley cited racism in the ranks and a lack of organizational discipline as his prime reasons for quitting.
    --Edward Hegstrom, “Head of Texas Minutemen Quits, Cites Racism in Group,” Houston Chronicle (July 28, 2005), p. B1.
  • National Alliance pamphlets were distributed in Tombstone and this predominantly Hispanic community just two days before the Minuteman Project got going [in summer 2005]. "Non-Whites are turning America into a Third World slum," they read. "They come for welfare or to take our jobs. Let's send them home now."

    Many other white supremacists had promised to attend, including members of the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations, but it was difficult to know if they showed up.

    One well-known extremist did appear. Armored in a flak jacket and packing a .38-caliber snub-nosed revolver, Joe McCutchen joined other volunteers patrolling the barbed wire fence separating the United States and Mexico near Bisbee, Ariz.

    McCutchen is the recently appointed chairman of Protect Arkansas Now, a group seeking to pass legislation that would deny public benefits to undocumented workers in that state. More to the point, he was identified by the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens as a member in 2001 — a charge he denies, though he admits that he did give a speech that year to the group that has described blacks as "a retrograde species of humanity." As recently as summer 2003, McCutchen wrote anti-Semitic letters to his hometown newspaper in Fort Smith, Ark.

--Intelligence Project, "Nazis, Racists Join Border Project"

I don't know Mr. Hayes. For all I know he may not be a racist. But he is recruiting people to an organization with a sorry record of cooperation and alliance with racist and extremist groups.

[Here's another report on the Minuteman Project in Kansas and Missouri from Kansas City television station KMBC. Like Woods in the Eagle, it doesn't subject the Minuteman claim to be non-racist to the critical analysis it deserves. It even gives contact information.]

Reporters writing on deadline often don't have time to do extensive research--and sometimes their editors don't want them to dig too deep. Hopefully, if the Minuteman Project, the Eagle, KMBC, and others will do more in depth reporting.

Some background on the Minuteman Project and the New Nativism
Max Blumenthal "Vigilante injustice"

Susy Buchanan & David Holthouse "Locked and Loaded"

Suzy Buchanon and David Holthouse, "Minuteman leader has troubled past"

Center for New Community, Building Democracy Initiative Shell Games: The “Minutemen” and Vigilante Anti-Immigrant Politics

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