The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.
A self-described coalition of antigovernment groups is hoping to organize yet another attempt at shutting down the U.S.-Mexico border at major commercial crossings this weekend, calling the event “Shut Down All Ports of Entry”.
Previous attempts at shutting down traffic at key border crossings this spring have ended in spectacular failure—notably radio host Pete Santilli’s attempt to shut down the crossing in Tijuana with bikers, as well as the “Border Convoy” last month, which culminated in a only a brief interruption at Brownsville, Texas.
But this particular attempt, scheduled to take place Saturday, has set off warnings among law enforcement personnel, including a local sheriff’s office in Texas and Border Patrol officials, who say they are prepared for just such an attempt
Michael Hethmon, a senior counsel for the legal arm of the anti-immigrant hate group Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), has been charged with child sex abuse. Hethmon is also running for a Maryland delegate seat that would represent a part of Prince George’s County, Md.
According to WUSA9, court records show that the mother of the girl who reported the abuse is a nurse practitioner helping Hethmon care for his elderly father. Investigators claim Hethmon was with the 8-year-old outside a barn on his property when he offered to brush hay off her. The child alleged Hethmon put his hands inside her pants and touched her sexually. Hethmon then attempted to put the victim’s hand inside his pants, court records say.
He’s currently free on bail.
Hethmon has been instrumental to FAIR’s legal arm, Immigration Reform Law Institute, and its efforts to pass harsh anti-immigrant legislation in various states and localities. Hethmon has cynically said in the past that he didn’t care if these laws turned out to be unconstitutional or if fighting for them in the courts were to be financially disastrous for states and localities, which they have been.
“Sink or swim, these new laws are forcing Congress to confront the need for enforcement-based reform,” he wrote in a 2010 op-ed for CNN. More important is that they “provoke sustainable immigration reform.” At another time, Hethmon called the laws “field tests”—experiments aimed at testing the legality of various approaches to immigration.
Hethmon did not respond to requests for comment.
Border militiamen like to tell the public that they offer a simple solution to a complex problem – putting “boots on the ground” along the United States’ border with Mexico as a way to deter would-be immigrants from making illegal crossings, or as they are more inclined to put it, “stopping the illegal invasion of America.”
But already, federal agents have found that their unsought presence in recent weeks on the border in Texas and Arizona is making a difficult job much more complicated and possibly lethal. In some cases, agents are drawing down on the border vigilantes, and in one incident actually fired upon them. Another confrontation involved bat scientists who happened to be gathering field data when they encountered the armed militiamen.
Pete Santilli insists that militiamen saved his life from drug cartels trying to assassinate him during his “Border Convoy,” a publicity stunt held earlier this month to focus anger about Central American refugee children arriving in the United States.
But his fellow participants are not so sure, leading to a far-right internecine feud between Santilli and his chief cohort in the convoy, a longtime Tea Party organizer named Eric Odom, who Santilli has accused of “co-opting” and “psy-opping” the event and smearing him with accusations of alcoholism, and Odom dismissing Santilli as a “borderline lunatic.” ( continue to full post… )
After stumbling out of the gate last month, militia activists in Texas are now appearing along the U.S.-Mexico border as part of a vigilante campaign to “secure our border” in the midst of a refugee crisis involving unaccompanied children from Central America.
According to a handful of news reports out of Texas, the militiamen – who initially were nowhere to be seen after publicizing their plans last month – are now conducting patrols in some areas in hopes of stopping incursions by border crossers.
The San Antonio Express-News published a report this week that listed some of the groups that have been involved in the patrols and included numerous photos of the militiamen.
Strikingly, the patrols are being organized secretively, and all the militiamen involved have insisted on anonymity.
The photos published with the report show dozens of men wearing camouflage gear and carrying a variety of semi-automatic weapons, patrolling areas of the border of southern Texas. In some cases, the men are wearing masks; in others, their faces have been blurred by photo retouching.
The individual who provided the photos insisted on blurring the visible faces of participants, saying they need anonymity to protect against retaliation by “cartel and gang members.” Nonetheless, some of the men in the photos contacted the paper and demanded that it remove the images, blurred or not, from the website.
Kolten Parker, the reporter who handled the story, told the SPLC that he and his editors tried to independently confirm as many details as possible, given that the militias have been secretive about who they are and when and where they are conducting patrols.
“We’ve spoken with ranchers in the area where these patrols are occurring, and we’ve seen plenty of evidence that they are,” Parker said. Judging from the 30 or so photos that the paper ran, he said that so far the patrols are being conducted in a well-organized manner.
Barbie Rogers of the Patriot Information Hotline told the paper that there are 10 “operations on the ground in Texas” this week. ( continue to full post… )
With thousands of undocumented children amassing at the U.S. border, Robert Jones, Imperial Wizard of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, doesn’t want amnesty. He wants “corpses” on the border.
Speaking to Al Jazeera America, Jones, in full Klan robes, warned that immigrant children crossing the border are a threat to a “white homeland” and simply one more way President Obama has “sold out the American people.”
“If we can’t turn them back, I think if we pop a couple of them off and leave their corpses laying at the border maybe they’ll see we’re serious about stopping immigration,” Jones said.
The situation at the border has intensified in recent weeks as violence has forced many families to help their children cross the border for safety –– an option available due to legislation signed by President George W. Bush that gave new protections to children entering the country by prohibiting them from being quickly sent back to their country of origin, the New York Times reported in early July. In response, militia members armed with assault rifles have once again begun border patrols, and groups like the Klan, long obsessed with a white homeland, have focused their hate toward the border once again.
A new “statewide” militia group that is attempting to organize in Arizona has been careful to portray itself to would-be recruits and law enforcement as a non-radical, mainstream organization that cooperates with local authorities. Calling itself the Arizona State Militia (ASM), the group claims to have successfully recruited a number of veterans of the U.S. military.
ASM is operated by a pair of men who insist on maintaining anonymity by using pseudonyms – one calls himself “Colonel Reaper,” while the other calls himself “Colonel Kratos.” This ongoing lack of transparency stands in stark contrast to the openness with which they carry their guns in public.
No one from the group responded to requests for comment from Hatewatch.
The militia made headlines when it appeared at a recent anti-immigrant demonstration in Arizona. None of the militiamen spoke on camera, but they were described by others as providing “security” for politicians and public figures who appeared at the demonstration.
Minuteman Project co-founder Jim Gilchrist recently announced that he was “considering” reviving the nativist border watch group. And now he’s made it official, announcing that he will organize a Minuteman border patrol in May of 2015.
Gilchrist clearly hopes to capitalize on the mounting right-wing outrage over the humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico involving Central American refugee children.
Gilchrist’s effort – dubbed “Operation Normandy” – is not lacking in grandiosity. The announcement at the Minuteman Project website declares:
The Minuteman Project’s “Operation Normandy” has been launched as of 1200 hours Monday, July 7. This event will dwarf the original Minuteman Project of 2005. I expect at least 3,500 non-militia volunteers to participate, plus uncounted groups of militias from all over the country.
If you are familiar with the Normandy invasion of France in 1944, then you have an idea how large and logistically complicated this event will be. However, there is one difference. We are not going to the border to invade anyone. We are going there to stop an invasion.
Our federal, state, and community governments have failed to address and fix this calamity. In the spirit of our nation’s Founding Fathers, it is once again time to bring unprecedented national awareness to the decades-long illegal alien crisis jeopardizing the United States.
Participation is open to everyone and there is only one rule: whatever you do, stay within the rule of law.
It will take 10 months to recruit, organize, and launch this event, and it will cover the porous areas of the 2,000-mile border from San Diego, Ca. to Brownsville, Texas.
D-Day: 1 May, 2015.
They had the motorcycles. They had the flags. And they had some people eager to protest child refugees coming over the border. What they didn’t have was a real plan.
That was the upshot of a failed effort by extremist radio host Pete Santilli and a group of bikers to shut down the Tijuana border crossing, south of San Diego, on July 5th.
The plan, as described by Santilli on his show, was for his antigovernment “Patriot” listeners to join forces with his biker friends to protest immigration policies and the imprisonment of U.S. Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi in Mexico. So many bikers and “Patriots” would turn out, Santilli hoped, that the resulting traffic jam and commotion would shut down the border.
Except, that didn’t happen. Not even close.
One day before the planned border shutdown protest, Santilli was protesting in Murrieta, California, where he shouted at police officers on the scene, calling them “domestic terrorists.”
The next day, having met up with his biker buddies who have been rallying for Tahmooressi’s return, Santilli and his crew set out southbound on Interstate 5. About ten miles from their destination, however, a California Highway Patrol officer pulled over Santilli’s vehicle.
All of this was caught on Santilli’s live-streaming broadcast of the “event.” As Santilli’s car pulls off to the shoulder with the officer behind them, the bikers cruise on by and keep going.
What if militias announced a showdown with the feds and nobody came?
That’s pretty much what happened in Texas this week, after a handful of militia activists called on their fellow militia members to intervene in the increasingly fraught humanitarian crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border, involving large numbers of children from Central America who are straining the government’s ability to process their complicated cases.
For a Texas militiaman named Chris Davis, there was nothing complicated about it. In a video he posted at YouTube – which he has since been removed – he offered a simple solution for dealing with the young border crossers.
“How?” Davis asked rhetorically. “You see an illegal, you point your gun right dead at them, right between the eyes, and say ‘Get back across the border, or you will be shot.’ Simple as that. If you get any flak from sheriffs, city, or feds, Border Patrol, tell them look — this is our birthright. We have a right to secure our own land. This is our land. This is our birthright.”
Davis’s solution was part of his call to his fellow militia members to make their way to the Texas border near Laredo in order to prevent child refugees from crossing there. Late last week, he posted an “Action Alert” bulletin at various online forums, including his Operation Secure Our Border Facebook page. “All Texas & National Militia Available Please Converge Immediately,” it said. The alert said the “mission” was to “close down Laredo Crossing for starters,” and that the operation would be “complete when border fence is in place and secure.”
It named a gathering point at a truck stop in Encinal, Texas, and concluded: “It’s time to bring down the thunder. Activating the Patriots willing to stand up for America GO GO GO. … Let’s share this like the brushfires of Liberty.”
However, Davis’ militia muster call quickly vanished into virtual thin air. Shortly after he began receiving media attention – including accounts in the McAllenville Monitor, Brownsville Herald, San Antonio Express-News and Los Angeles Times – he not only took down all his YouTube videos and deleted his channel there, he also deleted his Facebook page and all its incendiary antigovernment content.