Freedom Folks

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Stop the Invasion: Chicago Minutemen Protest in Cicero

Stop the Invasion was a national day of protest against illegal immigration, organized by Connecticut Citizens for Immigration Control. The Chicago Minuteman Project took part, joined by our good friends at IFIRE, by protesting at the Home Depot in Cicero for about 3 hours this morning.

Jake and I were the first to show up, just after 6 a.m. Yes, it was cold! Home Depot's security team was circling the parking lot, and the police arrived about 5 minutes after we did. We staked out a spot for the Minutemen on the sidewalk, and a couple of cops came over to chat with us. They were as professional and courteous as you could wish for (more about that later).

The counter-protesters started arriving pretty quickly. There was a spot reserved for them in the parking lot, and they were directed there by the police:

They (the counter-protesters who came to march against the Minutemen & friends -- clarity thanks to Digger!) had a pretty good turnout. Here's the crowd of people there to support illegal immigration:

The cops were terrific about keeping an eye on everything to make sure nothing untoward happened...

As usual, there were more Mexican flags on display than American ones. Makes you wonder whose interests, exactly, they're willing to stand out in the cold for.

Blasting their broadcast from this truck, the Spanish-language radio station La Ley was there to lend their support for illegal immigration...a rather ironic detail, considering that La Ley means "the law" in Spanish!

The majority of the signs sported by the counter-protesters were in Spanish, like this one...

It says No Nos Separen de Nuestras Familias (they will not separate us from our families). A couple of others I picked out of the photos and translated were Somos Trabajados, No Somos Criminales (we are workers, not criminals) and En Contra de los Arestos (against the arrests) -- a reference to the trespassing arrests of day laborers looking for work on Home Depot's property, including five this past Wednesday. A couple of people boldly displayed signage in English, including This Land is Our Land and Honk Against Minuteman (sic).

Despite that last one, I only ever heard anyone honk from the road when they saw signs like these:

Here's some more of our crew...

All in all, it was a peaceful rally. We were on the receiving end of some of the usual shouts of "racist" and "go home" as people sped by us in their cars. One of the counter-protesters broke away from their group to run across the portion of the parking lot where the police were gathered and wave a "Yankee Go Home" sign at us, yelling something about wanting Europeans to go home.

One freelance photojournalist came up to me and asked if I was discouraged by the disparity in our numbers, and if I thought our cause was gaining momentum. I responded that I know it is growing. The invasion of illegal immigrants has been going on for decades, gathering support along the way. The Minuteman Project is less than a year old. We've got a little catching up to do -- but it's happening before our very eyes.



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