About Barbara Coe
Named to the OC Weekly's "Bob Dornan Scary Orange County Hall of Fame" in 2011, Barbara Coe was known for her diatribes against Mexican “savages” and her wild conspiracy theories, including what she describes as a secret Mexican plan to “reconquer” the American Southwest and a shadowy “New World Order” being imposed on America by “globalists.” She was the founder and leader of the California Coalition for Immigration Reform (CCIR) (now known as the National Coalition for Issue Reform) and a self-described member of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) — a white supremacist group that has described black people as a “retrograde species of humanity.”
In her own words
“Liberals, self-serving politicians and cheap labor advocates have made a mockery of these laws. They have not only allowed MILLIONS of ILLEGAL ALIENS to jeopardize our very way of life, but defend their ‘right’ to do so! Statistics repeatedly prove that ILLEGAL ALIENS, first committing a criminal act by violating our borders and then bringing their values and culture to our midst, are major contributors to our mounting financial burdens as well as moral and social decay.”
—“Our Credo,” California Coalition for Immigration Reform website, undated
“These [vigilante ranchers] are the true heroes of our troubled times! Every illegal alien they halt is one less that will go on our welfare rolls, overcrowd our schools, bring in more drugs to poison our kids or rob, rape or murder another innocent American citizen.”
— “Action Alert,” 2000
“The blood of our people is on the hands of corrupt elected representatives who have not only allowed but encourage mass immigration of third world people and on this note people look at the big picture. These are people who easily accept tyranny and once they are here they are using their vote to stay in office. Treachery, treason and betrayal and let’s put the blame where it belongs…”
— At a Sierra Vista, Ariz., anti-immigrant meeting, May 15, 2000
A former police clerk, Barbara Coe gained notoriety when she organized a group called the California Coalition for Immigration Reform in 1994 to help write and push through California’s Proposition 187, which was meant to cut off undocumented immigrants from social services like public schooling and hospital care. (Coe’s friends have said she told them she was forced from her job in 1994, after using a city-owned camera to photograph people she thought were “illegal aliens.”) Coe’s organization staged a number of rallies against illegal immigration and for the proposition, and she became a regular guest on local talk radio shows. Prop. 187 passed, but was stalled in the court for years and effectively killed in 1998 by the newly elected Democratic Gov. Gray Davis. In 1999, she helped organize an effort to recall Davis, whom she derided as a communist and referred to regularly as “Gov. Gray ‘Red’ Davis.”
In 1998, Coe and her colleague Les Blankhorn paid for a billboard ad on Interstate 10 at the California-Arizona border that read “Welcome to California, the Illegal Immigration State,” and warned visitors, “Don’t let this happen to your state.”
Vitriolic, conspiracy-minded and just plain mean, Coe routinely refers to Mexicans as “savages” and “invaders” out to destroy America. In 2003, for instance, she responded to the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride, which sought to open a road to citizenship for all immigrant workers, by writing her CCIR members an urgent “Action Now!” message urging them to flood Congress and the White House with calls demanding the arrest of the riders. “These people are criminals,” said Coe. “As such, they have NO ‘RIGHTS’ other than emergency medical care and humane treatment as they are being DEPORTED! We can only wonder how many in this group of foreign invaders have robbed, raped and possibly murdered law-abiding American citizens and legal residents.”
Coe claims to have exposed a secret Mexican plan (the “Plan de Aztlán”) to reconquer the American Southwest. In May 2005, at a “Unite to Fight” anti-immigration summit in Las Vegas, she launched the kind of defamatory — and just plain unhinged — rant for which she has become infamous. “We are suffering robbery, rape and murder of law-abiding citizens at the hands of illegal barbarians,” she warned her audience, “who are cutting off heads and appendages of blind, white, disabled gringos.” She offered no proof for this wild-eyed assertion, as is her wont when attacking immigrants from Mexico. After his election in 2005, Coe attacked the Latino mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, accusing him of seeking to return Southern California to Mexico.
In 2004, Coe confirmed her membership in one of the crudest white supremacist groups, the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), while being interviewed by the Denver Post for a profile of her close friend and nativist ally, then-U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.). The CCC is the modern reincarnation of the White Citizen Councils that were formed in the South in the 1950s and 1960s to resist school desegregation ordered by the Supreme Court.
In the late 2000s, Coe became embroiled in a battle for power over the Minuteman Project, an organization founded by Jim Gilchrist that held anti-immigrant events and was originally set up to hold border patrols in Cochise County, Ariz., to round up immigrants. Coe served as a board member of the group and in February 2007, she and the rest of the group's board of directors fired Gilchrist amidst swirling allegations of embezzlement, gross mismanagement and fraud.
Gilchrist initially responded by filing a lawsuit against the board members and waging a public relations battle in which he claimed the Minuteman Project had been "hijacked." Coe, who later that year resigned from the Minuteman Project, and two other board members told the Los Angeles Times in March 2007 that as much as $750,000 was missing from Minuteman Project accounts. They also publicly accused Gilchrist of embezzling $13,000 from the Minuteman Project to pay his own legal fees and of illegally diverting another $400,000 in donations to his failed 2005 Congressional campaign and to promote his book "Minutemen: The Battle to Secure America's Borders."
In April 2007, Gilchrist suddenly dropped the lawsuit and incorporated a new competing organization: "Jim Gilchrist's Minuteman Project." Gilchrist has flatly denied any wrongdoing. At the time of the dispute, The Minuteman Project had 24 chapters in 20 states and roughly 200,000 dues-paying members, according to its fundraising materials.
By the late 2000s, Coe had found a new enemy in the form of a shadowy “globalist” conspiracy — more or less the same evil force much feared and vilified by the militia movement of the 1990s. On Nov. 7, 2007, Coe spoke at the March Against the North American Union in Westwood, Calif., where she linked illegal immigration to efforts to impose a “New World Order.” “Our research,” Coe declared, “revealed that illegal aliens are the ground troops needed by Bush Jr. and his globalist buddies for the ultimate death of America.” She explains that “globalists” have a plan to take control of America by encouraging illegal immigration and then exploiting their “herd mentality” to win elected offices.
After his election in 2008, President Obama began to incur Coe’s wrath. Symptomatic of her dislike of the new president was Coe’s attack on Obama less than an hour after he announced the killing of terrorism Osama Bin Laden on May 1, 2011. Coe’s immediate response was to remind her supporters that Obama, no matter what happened with Osama bin Laden, is a lying Muslim.
Coe, 79, died of cancer on August 31, 2013.