San Antonio Express-News, April 12, 2007
Police, protesters clash at University of Texas, San Antonio
A simmering illegal-immigration debate at the University of Texas at San Antonio— where 45 percent of students are Hispanic — erupted into a heated protest Wednesday during an outdoor speech by Chris Simcox, founder of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, a group of volunteers who patrol the Mexican border to stop immigrants from entering the country illegally.
UTSA’s chapter of the Young Conservatives of Texas invited Simcox to speak to draw attention to the lack of security on the border, said Laura Morales, the group’s executive director.
Liberal groups descended on the Simcox talk, booing and chanting “Racist, fascist go away!” into bullhorns throughout the speech and clashing with university police, who were pushing them away from the stage. The spectacle drew a crowd of about 750 to the university’s Sombrilla Plaza, making it perhaps the largest culture clash on campus to date.
Before the protest, school administrators asked protesters to allow Simcox to speak without interference, but they resisted.
“This guy represents hatred and murdering of immigrants on the border,” said senior Jonathan Bryant. “We’re not just going to sit back and let that happen.”
Struggling to be heard amid the noise, Simcox scolded the audience for their behavior.
“Thank God I taught kindergarten for the past 13 years; it helped me prepare for this kind of crap,” he said. “What you see here is a vigilante lynch mob.”
Police pushed back the mass of angry students, and at least one protester fell , but no one was arrested. When Simcox left earlier than planned, the crowd cheered wildly.
In his speech, Simcox said he believed in immigrants’ rights, and that his Minutemen stood watch on the border to rescue the families from dying in the desert. He also called the North American Free Trade Agreement an economic disaster and said Latin America needed to do more to help its citizens.
“We are not haters,” Simcox said. “We are trying to solve a problem.”
Though Simcox’s platform sounded measured, protesters weren’t buying it.
“He’s racist,” said Justin Felux, a member of the Student Worker Teacher Alliance, the group that organized the protest. “It’s a continuation of the Ku Klux Klan border watch in the 1970s.”
Fliers distributed by Felux’s group claimed the Minutemen are linked with white supremacist organizations, a claim that Simcox denies.
“He’s not racist, he cares about the border and he cares about America,” said Morales, director of the conservative group. “It was the great philosopher John Locke who told us if the government is not providing for you, you have the right to do something for yourself.”
Earlier this year, Morales’ group gathered signatures to remove the so-called “border crossing statue,” a bronze sculpture in the Sombrilla plaza on campus that depicts a family crossing the border. Like the Simcox event, the petition drew more protesters than supporters.
UTSA’s isn’t the only Young Conservatives chapter sparking controversy on campus. In 2005, members at the University of North Texas in Denton drew criticism for staging a mock roundup of undocumented immigrants. Passersby won a candy bar if they “caught” another student wearing a shirt marked “illegal immigrant.”
Morales said she supported the Denton students’ effort, but would not do the same at UTSA because it “would not come off as well.”
Carla De Leon, a 23-year-old criminal justice major who stopped to read the anti-Simcox flier, said she didn’t agree with the civilian border patrols. Her parents both crossed the border from Mexico and are now U.S. citizens, she said.
“I am surprised how they could do this at such a diverse university,” De Leon said. “He’s lucky that he was born here. Because otherwise he would be going through the same struggles” as immigrants.
This is from the Paisano, student-run and student-supported newspaper at the University of Texas, San Antonio, and is written by an organizer of Student Worker Teacher Alliance, which drove Minutemen co-founder Chris Simcox off stage after he was invited to speak by a campus conservative group.
Paisano, April 17, 2007, Opinion
Why we Shut Down Chris Simcox
Last week, a multi-racial coalition of students and workers shouted down an attempted speech by Chris Simcox, founder of the vigilante Minuteman Project. Many students disagreed with our actions. What about Simcox’s right to free speech?
First of all, we did nothing to stop Simcox from talking. We simply talked louder than he did. His right to speak confers no obligation on us to sit silently and listen to him spew racist nonsense. Our protest was non-violent; the police, who left at least one person covered in bruises, committed the only violence.
Secondly, in a just society Simcox and his Minuteman thugs would be rotting in prison rather than giving speeches on campuses. The Southern Poverty Law Center has clearly established ties between the Minutemen and groups like the neo-Nazi National Alliance and the KKK. They have quoted Minuteman volunteers saying such things, as “It should be legal to kill illegals.”
The fact that the cops had their fists and handcuffs trained on us rather than the hatemonger Simcox says a lot about our country. Simply put, there is no “dialogue” or “debate” to be had with fascists like the Minutemen. Allowing gutter racists to speak freely only lends them undue credibility and makes the “softer” forms of bigotry pushed by politicians seem like a reasonable alternative. We make no apology for being unruly and confrontational.
Some suggest that the Minutemen are a fringe group who should just be ignored. However, history also teaches us that fascism must be faced down militantly whenever and wherever it crops up. The Nazis started out as an isolated fringe group as well. Rather than take the fight to the Nazis in the streets, the anti-Nazi opposition in Germany chose to rely on “acceptable” forms of resistance such as electioneering and filing lawsuits. As a result, the Nazis were able to seize power by force and have their opponents executed. The fact that Hitler had the backing of the German ruling class was a major factor in his ability to come to power, which is what makes the Minutemen so disturbing. Their policy of anti-immigrant scapegoating plays right into the hands of the owners of American corporations, who do everything they can to redirect the outrage of American workers over wage cuts and layoffs to an “alien” source. Our protest sent a powerful message to both the Minuteman and the capitalist bosses whose interests they serve: ¡Las luchas obreras no tienen fronteras!
On the Racism of the Minutemen
Simcox and Minutemen not a grass-roots movement, are funded by rich racist foundations, and encouraged, promoted, and supported by anti-immigrants in US Congress. More from Salon.com. More from Southern Poverty Law Center.