Saturday, February 10, 2007

Migrant camp vandalism investigation continues

NORTH COUNTY —- San Diego police said Thursday they are investigating a possible link between anti-illegal immigration activists and the Rancho Penasquitos vandalism incident last month in which clothing and other belongings were destroyed in migrant camps.

A witness allegedly saw the vandals go through the camps, according to police. At one of the camps, clothing was slashed, boots were torn and blankets were ripped in half. Police said the incidents happened sometime over the weekend of Jan. 27 and 28.

No one has been charged in the incident and the investigation is not yet complete, according to police.

A migrant worker who lives in one of the camps told them four men and two women were allegedly involved, according to police. Monica Munoz, a spokeswoman with the San Diego Police Department, said detectives are checking whether the alleged vandals may be members of a group that has demonstrated against illegal immigrants at local migrant camps.

“The information regarding the possible Minutemen involvement is confirmed by Capt. (Jim) Collins per a witness,” Munoz said.

Munoz said police are keeping open the possibility of recommending the vandalism be charged as a hate crime.

The use of the term “minuteman” was popularized by the Minuteman Project, a monthlong vigil at the U.S.-Mexico border in April 2005. Many anti-illegal immigration groups now use the term “minuteman” in their name. Some individuals refer to themselves as Independent Minuteman activists, but are not affiliated with any particular group.

Collins could not be reached for comment Tuesday. He told KPBS News recently that the witness recognized one of the alleged vandals, described their vehicles and their physical appearance.

Jeff Schwilk, who leads the San Diego Minutemen, one of the best-known and most active anti-illegal immigration groups in the county, could not be reached for comment on this story.

“We are still looking into all leads,” Munoz said. “No determination has been made at this time with regard to charges.”

Source: NC Times

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