Members of the San Diego Minutemen (SDMM), including leader Jeff Schwilk, were captured pulling down migrant workers’ tents and makeshift huts in a video apparently shot in McGonigle Canyon in San Diego. Earlier this week, the Voice of San Diego posted the video shot by Christie Czajkowski, a former member of SDMM who told the online newspaper it was filmed last November.
The video surfaced as police continue to investigate a similar attack on the migrant camp last winter. On Jan. 27, migrants returned to their shantytown to find their tarp homes sliced to ribbons and their clothes slashed. This spring, police searched the homes of Schwilk, Czajkowski and an anti-illegal immigration activist named Julie Adams in connection with that investigation. No arrests have been made.
Czajkowski told the Voice of San Diego that the video showed SDMM members vandalizing the camp, an allegation Schwilk denied. He claimed the camp was unoccupied and “you can’t vandalize … an unoccupied structure,” and later issued a press release, in conjunction with three other nativist leaders, calling Czajkowski a “chronic liar.” Czajkowski, who describes Schwilk as her estranged former boyfriend, said she had not supplied the Voice of San Diego with the video, which she said the police have had a copy of since her home was searched.
In the video, Schwilk is seen rummaging through migrants’ possessions and pulling down a migrant worker’s tarp hut. “They don’t build them like they used to,” says Schwilk. In another scene, Schwilk and others stand inside a canyon chapel for migrant workers that has an altar made of pink adobe and is decorated with fresh flowers and a statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Mexico’s patron saint. “Believe me, I’ve had many a fantasy of coming in here with a sledgehammer,” Schwilk says. Czajkowski told the Voice of San Diego that, off camera, Schwilk had then gone on to smash veladoras, or Mexican devotional prayer candles, in the chapel. The chapel was operated for migrant workers by a local church, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, through this January, two months after Czajkowski says she shot the video.
Another scene shows a woman referred to only as “Julie” taking her turn at trying to pull down a migrant shanty made of tarps and poles. “I’m going to be in the paper tomorrow,” she is heard saying. “But not for all this shit.”
San Diego police spokeswoman Mónica Muñoz said the Minutemen are not allowed to allowed to conduct “clean-ups” in camps on private land without the owner’s permission. Meanwhile, a coalition of pro-migrant and Latino groups have offered a $10,000 award for information leading to an arrest in the January case.