Monday, May 28, 2007

Latino Fear and Loathing

Fri May 25, 3:00 AM ET

Some people just don't like Mexicans — or anyone else from south of the border. They think Latinos are freeloaders and welfare cheats who are too lazy to learn English. They think Latinos have too many babies, and that Latino kids will dumb down our schools. They think Latinos are dirty, diseased, indolent and more prone to criminal behavior. They think Latinos are just too different from us ever to become real Americans.

No amount of hard, empirical evidence to the contrary, and no amount of reasoned argument or appeals to decency and fairness, will convince this small group of Americans — fewer than 10 percent of the general population, at most — otherwise. Unfortunately, among this group is a fair number of Republican members of Congress, almost all influential conservative talk radio hosts, some cable news anchors — most prominently, Lou Dobbs — and a handful of public policy "experts" at organizations such as the Center for Immigration Studies, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, NumbersUSA, in addition to fringe groups like the Minuteman Project.

Stripped bare, this is what the current debate on immigration reform is all about. Fear of "the other" — of those who look or sound different, who come from poor countries with unfamiliar customs — has been at the heart of every immigration debate this country has ever had, from the infamous Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 to the floor of the U.S. Senate this week.

What is said today of the Mexicans, Guatemalans, Salvadorans and others was once said of Germans, Swedes, the Irish, Italians, Poles, Jews and others. The only difference is that in the past, the xenophobes could speak freely, unconstrained by a veneer of political correctness. Today, they speak more cautiously, so they talk about the rule of law, national security, amnesty, whatever else they think might make their arguments less racially charged.

Where once the xenophobes could advocate forced sterilization and eugenics coupled with virtually shutting off legal immigration from "undesirable" countries, now they must be content with building walls, putting troops on the border, rounding up illegal aliens on the job and deporting them, passing local ordinances to signal their distaste for immigrants' multi-family living arrangements, and doing whatever else they can to drive these people back where they came from.

There is no chance this small group of xenophobes will succeed — ultimately. The victories of their predecessors have been short-lived and so obviously wrong-headed we've always finally abandoned them, from modifying and then repealing the Asian exclusion acts to scrapping the nationalities quotas. But we need to quit pretending that the "No Amnesty" crowd is anything other than what it is: a tiny group of angry, frightened and prejudiced loudmouths backed by political opportunists who exploit them.

The status quo — largely turning a blind eye toward the 12 million illegal aliens who work, pay taxes and keep their noses clean, while stepping up border enforcement and selective internal enforcement — may not be the worst possible outcome in the current debate on immigration reform. It is the coward's way out of our current dilemma. But there are other problems with allowing the xenophobes to derail comprehensive immigration reform.

We've struggled long and hard as a nation to overcome our prejudices, enduring a Civil War and countless dead for the right to be judged by the content of our character not the color of our skin or where we came from. Our country is the greatest, freest, most powerful and optimistic nation in the history of the world — and our people are good, decent, fair and the hardest working anywhere. That is why immigrants — even those who look and sound different, from nearby and far away — come here, often with only the clothes on their backs but a fire in their bellies to succeed. They make all of us richer, and by embracing and welcoming them, we make ourselves better.

Linda Chavez is the author of "An Unlikely Conservative: The Transformation of an Ex-Liberal." To find out more about Linda Chavez, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at



Monday, May 14, 2007

Class Action Lawsuit Filed For May Day Rally

by NATIONAL LAWYERS GUILD Thursday, May. 10, 2007 at 5:03 PM

The National Lawyers Guild, along with attorneys from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), filed a class action lawsuit in federal court in Los Angeles yesterday on behalf of the community groups who organized a May Day immigrants rights rally at MacArthur Park in the city’s heavily Latino immigrant community.

Class Action Lawsuit Filed For May Day Rally

Friday, 11 May 2007, 10:45 am
Press Release: US National Lawyers Guild


Class Action Lawsuit Filed For May Day Rally

The National Lawyers Guild, along with attorneys from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), filed a class action lawsuit in federal court in Los Angeles yesterday on behalf of the community groups who organized a May Day immigrants rights rally at MacArthur Park in the city’s heavily Latino immigrant community.

The event was disrupted by the Los Angeles Police Department when riot-gear clad officers swept through the park without warning and ordered everyone leave the park. The suit seeks changes in how the Los Angeles Police Department responds to demonstrations, as well as damages for all of the peaceful participants in the rally who were beaten and shot by the police and chased from the park on May 1, 2007.

According to the lawsuit, the police broke up the demonstration without justification. A dispersal order was given from a helicopter hovering several blocks away from the park. The announcement was largely drowned out by the noise of the helicopter and was given only in English, despite the fact that the MacArthur Park community is largely Spanish-speaking immigrants.

The declaration of an unlawful assembly was not made before the police began shooting people with less lethal munitions and beating anyone in their path with batons and there was no warning and an opportunity to leave before people were shot. Many individuals were shot in the back as they attempted to flee the police.

"This was nothing short of a police riot," said Carol Sobel, President of the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild and one of the attorneys on the class action. "The police shot munitions at anyone in the park. It was sheer luck that more people were not injured and that no child was seriously harmed by the lawless action of the LAPD on May 1."

The original police estimates, provided in the days immediately following May 1, were that 10 people were injured and 50 to 100 "agitators" prompted the police response. Since then, the number of injured reported by the police has risen to 24 and the number of "agitators" dropped to approximately 30. Lawyers for the class action estimate that they have received reports from dozens of individuals injured that day as they were chased from the park, including reports of broken bones, concussions, and other contusions.

Several individuals suffered injuries from head strikes with batons, a serious categorically lethal use of force according to the LAPD's own training. To date, videos of the rally and police action have failed to substantiate the police claims of provocation for the massive and brutal police response.

Since the early 1990s, the City has paid out over $9,000,000 in damages for police abuse at demonstrations, including approximately $5,000,000 for the police actions at the Democratic National Convention in 2000.

Organizational Plaintiffs

MIWON - Multi-Ethnic Immigrant Workers Organizing Network
CHIRLA - Coalition for Humane Immigrants Rights Los Angeles
KIWA - Koreatown Immigrant Workers Alliance
IDEPSCA - Institute of Popular Education of Southern California
GWC - Garment Workers Center
PWC - Philipino Workers Center

Individual plaintiffs include:

Kevin Breslin, who was present at the May Day rally as a legal observer on behalf of the National Lawyers Guild. He was struck at least 5 times on his legs by at least two officers and then hit in the chest.

Luis Galvez tried to help people escape from the park and, as he did so, was hit on the head, neck and back multiple times, and knocked unconscious by a baton strike from behind.

Jorge Lopez was with friends eating snacks when he heard yelling and shouting and saw people running. He was shot with a rubber bullet in the chest. When he tried to retrieve the ball that hit him, he was shot two more times in the leg.

Leopoldo Ortiz is a 76-year-old veteran who was walking in the park when the police attack began. One officer hit him multiple times in the stomach, knocking the wind out of him. He fell to the ground and was kicked two times in the backside.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Hilarious Minuteman Spoof

Honor Fraternity Party Stirs Controversy at Delaware Campus


NEWARK, Del. (AP)- A Latino student organization at the University of Delaware is demanding that an honor fraternity expel members who attended a Cinco de Mayo party deemed by some people to be offensive.

Party photographs that appeared online this week have prompted the Campus Alliance de La Raza to demand that Phi Sigma Pi expel members who attended the off-campus event, which was not sanctioned by the fraternity.

The photographs, which appeared on a student's Facebook Web site page, showed some students dressed as gardeners wearing work shirts with "Pedro" and "Jose" name tags, and a racist slur scrawled across the back.

Other photos from what one partygoer described as a "politically incorrect twist" on Cinco de Mayo, pictured three students in red, white and green shirts with the word "Mexico" on the front, and "Spicy," "Full of Tequila" and "Hott" on the backs.

La Raza and Phi Sigma Pi scheduled a forum Wednesday night to discuss the party and allegations of racism. The university, which has a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination, also is investigating.

In formal apologies posted on La Raza's Web site, students said they did not believe their costumes would be offensive, nor were they acting maliciously.

"In no way were these outfits, or these pictures meant to offend anyone," Jacqui Croteau, one of the participants, said in a statement. "I did not fully understand, at the time these pictures were taken, how harmful the idea of dressing in this way could be to a community."

Craig de Mariana Aleman, graduate student adviser to La Raza, said that as a Mexican-American, he had to "take a few minutes" after viewing the photos before he could advise the group on how to proceed.

"It hit pretty hard," he said. "It's throwing this message at me that Mexicans are drunk, they indulge in alcohol or are sexually promiscuous. That was equally as hurtful for me as looking at the gardeners."

Brian Brady, president of UD's Phi Sigma Pi chapter, said the party was not an organization-sponsored event, and that disciplinary action is being taken against the members who attended the party.

"We hold 'freedom from prejudice' in extremely high regard, and do not tolerate bigotry or discrimination in any form," he wrote in a statement on the La Raza Web site, calling the actions of the students "unacceptable."

A statement released by the national chapter of Phi Sigma Pi, which also is investigating the incident, said the organization does not condone discriminatory conduct or behavior.


Racist graffiti found on two LM school bathroom walls


PENN VALLEY - In what one school official described as a terroristic act, a new round of racist graffiti has been found scrawled on bathroom walls in two Lower Merion schools over the last week.

According to police reports, on May 2, someone found two small swastikas drawn on the inside of a bathroom stall at Lower Merion High School.

Two days later, police reported, someone discovered the phrase "Die Jews" written on a bathroom stall at Welsh Valley Middle School in Penn Valley.

Lower Merion police have been called in to investigate both incidents.

Letters were sent out last Friday informing parents about the graffiti that was found written inside Welsh Valley Middle School.

"We consider any threat targeting a specific group in our school community to be a terroristic act," Welsh Valley Principal Deitra E. Spence wrote in the letter.
In recent months, Lower Merion has been plagued with similar incidents targeting people of Jewish or African ancestry.

"As in all other incidences, the police have been notified. Once the individual or individuals have been found they will be punished to the fullest extent," said Douglass Young, district spokesman.

Due to past incidents, the district has also become part of the No Place for Hate program through the Anti-Defamation League and other programs designed to combat intolerance.

Although the schools have implemented programs designed to dissuade students from supporting racist views, officials say there is another aspect that should not be forgotten -- the role of parents and families in the discussion.

"The conversation has to be continued at home and with parents and families," added Young.


Saturday, May 12, 2007

When evil words turn to evil deeds

The heated rhetoric coming from the "anti-illegal-immigration" camp over the last two years has had numerous effects on political discourse. While managing to turn the debate over meaningful immigration reform toxic, leaving many politicians unwilling to do the hard work of crafting much needed legislation, it has had the unwanted added effect of empowering some who advocate truly hateful and dangerous agendas to act out their violent and extremist ideas.

Reports from the Anti Defamation League and the Southern Poverty law Center have documented the growing intrusion of hate groups like the KKK and neo-Nazis into the "anti-illegal-immigration movement".

But perhaps even more dangerous has been the a growing proliferation of violent "homegrown" organizations and possible "lone wolf" fanatics willing to take their twisted agendas to the extreme.

In the past weeks there has been growing evidence that there is a catastrophe just waiting to happen, as domestic terrorist plots were uncovered to attack immigrants on a scale much larger than had yet been seen.

In late April, government agents infiltrated a "militia" in Alabama with plans to use machine guns and grenades against local Mexican immigrants. The group was armed and ready to proceed and were already scouting locations for their attack, when agents closed in, leading to the arrest of five members.

In Washington DC a local minuteman was found with a stash of semi automatic weapons and explosives in his home after being arrested after a scuffle at the May 1st immigration rally in that city.

Both these incidents point to the growing violent radicalization of the most extreme elements within the "anti-illegal-immigration" movement.

Fueled by the daily tirades of O'Reilly, Dobbs, Buchanan, or Limbaugh, and the caustic political rhetoric of Tom Tancredo and scores of other "border enforcement" politicians, radical fringe elements, who would normally be relegated to the periphery, are further emboldened and urged to action in their belief that they represent the "mainstream" of American thought.

Political discourse and debate need never be passionless, but the level of vitriol accepted as constructive debate has increasingly grown to a level that now seems to border on the dangerous. With talk of "invading hordes" of "disease ridden aliens" pouring over the border daily, the line between responsible political debate, and eliminationist rhetoric has become blurred ... especially for those predisposed to violent racists acts.

In the case of Tyler Joseph Froatz, the man arrested in Washington DC, he was not only a member of the local Herndon Minutemen, but also the conservative Internet based discussion forum Free Republic where he was regular poster and attended rallies and other events sponsored by the group. This acceptance of Froatz's anti-immigrant views by the Free Republic crowd could only lend credence to his belief that he was in the mainstream of conservative thought.

Even when he was clearly part of a violent radical fringe as demonstrated by his actions.

A self-proclaimed Herndon Minuteman whom police arrested in a tussle at an immigration rally Tuesday now faces weapons charges after federal authorities found a cache of guns and explosives at his Northwest Washington home.

Law enforcement officials searched the apartment of 24-year-old Tyler Joseph Froatz after U.S. Park Police found several weapons on him Tuesday outside the demonstration at Meridian Hill Park, including an M-1 rifle and a map of an embassy in his Jeep.

The Examiner"Anti-immigration activist arrested at demonstration faces weapons charges", May 4

Police say that on Tuesday, Froatz, was counter protesting at an immigration rally in Meridian Hill Park when he became embroiled in a fight with immigration rally organizer. According to police, Froatz bent the organizer's left arm and scratched her hand, before leaving the area to don dark camouflage clothing. Police arrived and arrested Froatz and found a host of weapons on him including a hammer, taser, and a loaded flare gun. In addition, Detective Robert Freeman of the U.S. Park Police testified that Froatz was carrying two knives including a "12 inch dagger-style knife."

A search of Froatz's nearby Jeep recovered a loaded M-1 rifle and ammunition. A map of a local embassy and a detailed, hand-drawn sketch of the park with lines pointing towards the center of the protest was found in the front seat of the Jeep, Freeman said.

But those items were overshadowed by what investigators discovered in Froatz's apartment in the 5300 block of 8 th St. NW. Freeman described a home bristling with a variety of bladed weapons, 13 guns and more than 2,000 rounds of ammunition. Froatz did not have a permit for the guns which include a fully-loaded 12-gauge shotgun and a .45-caliber pistol.

Police also discovered an explosive resembling a Molotov cocktail. The cocktail was found in a Welch's grape juice bottle wrapped in a t-shirt and appeared to be a mix of gasoline with a jelly-like substance which if it exploded would stick to a person "like napalm," Freeman explained.

The Examiner, "Judge refuses bail to armed protester",May 4

click to watch video

Kristinn Taylor, credited in press accounts as a "friend of Floatz" or "member of a local anti-immigration organization", is in fact the co-leader of the DC chapter of the hard right Free Republic and knows Froatz well, although he now claims he was unaware of Froatz's violent leanings.

Kristinn Taylor, a friend of Froatz who attended the hearing, expressed shock that the "nonthreatening," and chatty 24-year-old could hurt anyone.

"Like a lot of people who feel strongly about the immigration issue, he was out protesting," Taylor said, who added Froatz was not working for Free Republic during his protest.

"He didn't say anything about killing illegals or nothing like that."


Froatz was refused bail by D.C. Superior Court Judge, John Hess, who expressed concern that he posed a threat to the area. Considering the severity of the charges, it seems likely that Froatz will go to prison if convicted. His next court appearance is May 17.

While Froatz can be viewed as a mentally disturbed "lone wolf," drawn to violence with the tacit support of the media and politicians all too willing to play into his psychosis with talk of "illegal-aliens invasions," and "disease ridden aliens" mooching off the American people, taking their jobs, and lowering standards for all …. The same cannot be said for the "Alabama Free Militia." Although inspired to action by the same kind of rhetoric that inflamed Floatz, the group of five domestic terrorists have much more in common with Timothy McVie, and his brand of organized terrorism, than the "lone lunatic" model applied to Floatz.

Five members of a self-styled militia were denied bail Tuesday after a federal agent testified they planned a machine gun attack on Mexicans, but a judge approved bail for a sixth man.


Adam Nesmith, an agent with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, testified that the five - Raymond Kirk Dillard, 46; Adam Lynn Cunningham, 41; Bonnell Hughes, 57; Randall Garrett Cole, 22; and James Ray McElroy, 20 - planned a machine-gun attack on Mexicans in Remlap, a town just north of Birmingham, and went there on a reconnaissance mission April 20. The agent provided no further details.

During the raids last week, agents recovered 130 homemade hand grenades, a grenade launcher, about 70 hand grenades rigged to be fired from a rifle, a machine gun, a short-barrel shotgun and 2,500 rounds of ammunition, authorities said.

Local and federal officials returned to the area Tuesday because authorities got information that explosives could be hidden in a cave, said Stanna Guice, spokeswoman for the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department. Officers on foot and horseback converged in a field and worked outward to search for a cache.

Arizona Republic, " 5 accused in Alabama militia case planned attack on Mexicans", May 1, 2007

The heavily armed Alabama Free Militia planned to attack a group of Hispanics in Blount County and had orders to open fire immediately if they saw the feds coming, an ATF agent said Tuesday.

Adam Nesmith of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives testified during a federal court hearing that the men had a plan to attack a group of Mexicans in the Remlap area with machine guns.

Nesmith said two of the men and a confidential informant went on a reconnaissance mission to Remlap on April 20, six days before federal, state and local law enforcement officers carried out last Thursday's raids in four Alabama counties, confiscating truckloads of explosives, 130 grenades and 2,500 rounds of ammunition.

Nesmith said Raymond Dillard, described as the militia major, and James Ray McElroy, a private, were the two who traveled to Remlap.

Nesmith said Dillard, who had the highest rank, told the informant there were standing orders that if the militia saw the feds coming they were to open fire immediately because "they are the enemy."


The ATF and the Alabama State Fire Marshal's Office initiated an investigation into the group about seven weeks ago. They used the confidential informant to infiltrate the militia and document grenade-making with video and audio recordings. The informant had met Dillard at a DeKalb County flea market in the fall.

Birmigham News, "Agent says militia targeted Hispanics", May 2, 2007

Clearly both these instances demonstrate that both luck and excellent police work helped to thwart what would have been catastrophes of a grand scale.

Yet we hear little in the media of this growing trend. It is always after a Columbine, Virginia Tech or Oklahoma City that we analyze and look for causes and possible prevention for such disasters.

But this time, one of the factors leading to this increase in violence is evident and could easily be addressed… the growing vitriol and hyperbolic rhetoric coming from the anti-illegal-immigration camp. One need only go to the forums and chat boards of such groups as the Minuteman or Save Our State to see the proliferation of "invasion" rhetoric where undocumented immigrants are compared to animals and vermin to see the handwriting on the wall. It is only a matter of time until something horrendous happens.

And only then will we finally have our "national dialogue" about this issue.

Then we will look at the effect this kind of socially acceptable hate speech, spewed out daily by media talking-heads, right-wing radio and politicians, has had in bringing on the kind of catastrophe that can no longer be swept under the carpet by a complacent and enabling media.

But at the cost of how many innocents lives?


Center Urges CNN to Retract False Reporting by Lou Dobbs

'Advocacy Journalist' cites bogus data linking leprosy to undocumented immigrants

Letter to CNN
Immigration: Getting the Facts Straight

May 9, 2007 — The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) today urged CNN to acknowledge that anchor Lou Dobbs has been spreading false information about the prevalence of leprosy and its supposed links to undocumented immigrants.

"We're not talking about a newscaster who simply made a mistake — we're talking about someone with a national platform who cites wildly inaccurate data to demean an entire group of people and who, when confronted with the truth, simply repeats the lie," said SPLC President Richard Cohen. "It's outrageous, and CNN should do something about it immediately."

In a letter sent today, Cohen asked CNN/U.S. President Jonathan Klein to take prompt action to correct the misinformation.

On "Lou Dobbs Tonight" this past Monday, Dobbs said he stands "100 percent behind" his show's claim that there had been 7,000 new cases of leprosy in the United States over a recent three-year period, and he further suggested that an increase in leprosy was due in part to "unscreened illegal immigrants coming into this country."

Dobbs' endorsement of the claim came after CBS correspondent Lesley Stahl challenged the leprosy figure during a profile of Dobbs on "60 Minutes" this past Sunday. Stahl cited a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services document that reported 7,029 cases over the past 30 years — not three.

The dispute highlights the SPLC's concern that Dobbs and some others in the media are regularly using discredited and inaccurate information about immigrants — material that often originates with far-right ideologues and organizations dominated by white supremacists and nativists.

Dobbs and CNN reporter Christine Romans said they had gotten the information from the late Madeleine Cosman, who was described by Romans as "a respected medical lawyer" – but who, in fact, was a woman who repeatedly ranted about Latino men raping boys, girls and nuns.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the number of leprosy cases diagnosed in the United States peaked at 361 in 1985. The figure reported on Dobbs' show is easily refuted with just a few minutes of research on the Internet.

"It is highly irresponsible of Mr. Dobbs to rely on disreputable sources while ignoring credible information that does not support his views," Cohen wrote in the letter. "And given the current anti-immigrant climate, it is dangerous to present such false claims about a serious public health issue and demonize an entire group of people in the process."

In the "60 Minutes" piece, Mark Potok, director of the SPLC's Intelligence Project, was quoted as criticizing Dobbs' characterization of undocumented immigrants. The SPLC also has challenged Dobbs for having extremists as guests, and giving them legitimacy, without fully disclosing their affiliations.

On Dobbs' show Monday, during a conversation with Romans, Dobbs said: "Following one of your reports, I told Lesley Stahl, we don't make up numbers, and I will tell everybody here again tonight, I stand 100 percent behind what you said." He later added, "And the fact that it [the number of leprosy cases] rose was because — one assumes, because we don't know for sure — but two basic influences: unscreened illegal immigrants coming into this country primarily from South Asia, and secondly, far better reporting."

In addition to writing about the prevalence of leprosy, Cosman, who died in March 2006, told an anti-immigrant conference in 2005 that "most" Latino immigrant men "molest girls under 12, although some specialize in boys, and some in nuns," a variation on a speech she has given elsewhere. The Winter 2005 issue of the SPLC's quarterly magazine Intelligence Report also contained a profile of Cosman, a lawyer who advised wealthy doctors on how to sell their medical practices and a member of the far-right Jews for the Preservation of Firearms. The piece pointed out that Cosman had lied about having a 1976 book she wrote nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.

In the "60 Minutes" piece, Dobbs told Stahl, "Well, I can tell you this. If we report it, it's a fact."

"How can you guarantee that to me?" Stahl asked.

"Because I'm the managing editor, and that's the way we do business," Dobbs replied. "We don't make up numbers, Lesley. Do we?"
The Facts Behind the Leprosy Claim

Madeleine Cosman's false claim that there were 7,000 cases of leprosy diagnosed in the United States from 2001 to 2004 was included in her article, "Illegal Aliens and American Medicine." More than once, "Lou Dobbs Tonight" reporter Romans repeated Cosman's statistic, saying, "Suddenly, in the past three years, America has more than 7,000 cases of leprosy."

Cosman's piece was published in the Spring 2005 issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, published by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, which represents private practice doctors. The journal is known as a right-wing periodical whose science has been the subject of harsh criticism.

Though the article notes her Ph.D., it does not say that the degree is in English and comparative literature. Cosman had no medical training other than as a medical lawyer.

In the article, Cosman provides no source for her claim of 7,000 cases of leprosy, also known as Hansen's Disease, in three years — presumably 2001 to 2004, given the article's publication date.

The claim has no basis in fact.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in its June 16, 2006, analysis, "Summary of Notifiable Diseases – United States, 2004, that "[t]he number of reported cases of Hansen's Disease (HD) in the United States peaked at 361 in 1985 and has declined since 1988." The CDC's website points to the website of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' National Hansen's Disease Program. According to the HHS, 166 new cases of leprosy were reported in the United States in 2005. The 2007 Statistical Abstract of the United States reports that there were 70 cases in 2001; 96 in 2002; 95 in 2003; and 105 in 2004 ).

Cosman's article is laden with editorial comments and unscientific language. Its second sentence reads, "Illegal aliens' stealthy assaults on medicine now must rouse Americans to alert and alarm." The article ends with a rather odd suggestion for a medical journal — "Close America's Borders" — as well as the argument that "[f]ighting against illegal aliens is fighting for individualistic America: land of moral strength, and home of responsible liberty."

Cosman's fearmongering about leprosy is unwarranted. Not only is leprosy not on the rise in the United States, it is also not particularly dangerous. According to the HHS, "Most (95 percent) of the human population is not susceptible to infection" and, if they do become infected, the disease is easily treatable "with standard antibiotic drugs.

More Madeleine Cosman

The bizarre specialties of Mexican rapists

No new amnesty


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Two LAPD commanders to be reassigned over MacArthur Park rally

By Duke Helfand, Patrick McGreevy and Andrew Blankstein
Times Staff Writers

1:43 PM PDT, May 7, 2007

Two high-ranking command officers in the Los Angeles Police Department are expected to be reassigned for their role in overseeing the police response to last week's MacArthur Park immigration rally, sources familiar with the situation said today.

Deputy Chief Cayler "Lee" Carter Jr., commanding officer of Operations Central Bureau, and Cmdr. Louis Gray, the No. 2 official in the bureau, face the personnel action amid the continuing fallout from an incident that left 10 people injured.

Carter did not return phone calls midday today and Gray declined comment when reached at his office.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Chief William J. Bratton and Police Commission President John Mack are scheduled to announce the actions at a 3:30 p.m. news conference at City Hall. The LAPD command staff is expected to be told at 1:45.

Mack, who is receiving daily briefings from Bratton, did not confirm the moves but said some reassignments would be "a very positive sign." He said he expects a number of police officials to face action.

"This is the beginning, not the end," Mack said. "There are various investigations still ongoing."

Just as a peaceful immigrant rights May Day march was winding down in MacArthur Park, a group of agitators began throwing rocks and bottles at a perimeter of officers dressed in riot gear. Around 6:15 p.m., officers began closing in to clear the park, using batons and firing more than 140 rounds of foam and rubber projectiles. Targets included protesters and television reporters who had been covering the protest.

The violence created a furor among immigrants groups and civil rights advocates as images of the incident were beamed almost instantly around the world.

Villaraigosa and Bratton have come under heavy pressure to take decisive action, and both have promised to hold the department and themselves accountable.

Carter, a 33-year LAPD veteran and one of the department's eight deputy chiefs, was on the scene at MacArthur Park during Tuesday's protests and was ultimately the person in charge of police, one source said.

As the commanding officer of Operations Central Bureau, he is responsible for the deployment of 1,700 sworn and civilian personnel who serve more than 1 million people living in an area the size of Washington, D.C., according to his biography on the LAPD website. During his three decades in the LAPD, the Los Angeles native has been the commanding officer of the Risk Management Group, West Valley Area, Internal Affairs Group, and Newton Patrol Division, the website said. He also has worked numerous other assignments throughout the city, including the Organized Crime Intelligence Division and Operations-South Bureau Narcotics.

Carter can be bumped down to a commander-level position under city Civil Service rules, one source said. Gray, who has been with the department for 39 years, was the second in command at MacArthur Park. He would have been responsible for tactical decisions made on the scene. He will be transferred out of the Central Bureau command.

The Central Bureau encompasses 65 square miles, and includes MacArthur Park, the Rampart area, the downtown business district, Eagle Rock, the garment district, Dodger Stadium and Griffith Park. It services some of the city's most crowded and crime-plagued neighborhoods, whose residents are among the most ethnically and culturally diverse in the city.

The action, coming less than a week since the incident, encouraged Ramona Ripston, head of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.

"I certainly do appreciate the swift action of the chief," Ripston said.

Meanwhile, the political pressure increased today with the announcement by City Council President Eric Garcetti that he is forming a special task force to monitor the progress of the investigation and provide an extra layer of oversight.

The task force will hear reports on the investigations pursued concurrently by the Police Department and by the Office of the Investigator General. It will also provide a forum where members of the public can express their views and concerns on the confrontation and the investigations, and it will provide policy recommendations for the future encounters between the police, protesters and news media.

"The freedom of the people to assemble is a cornerstone of our democracy," Garcetti said. "The freedom of the press to operate without encumbrance is a cornerstone of our democracy. And the openness and the accountability of our institutions are cornerstones of our democracy. We have allowed those first two freedoms to come to harm. The health of our city depends even more now on our swift action, rigorous investigation, and on our conduct of the people's business in broad daylight.''

Councilmen Jack Weiss and Ed Reyes will chair the task force. It will include council members Wendy Greuel, Jan Perry and Jose Huizar.


Dozens of LAPD Officers Benched for Their Role in May Day Melee

HOLLYWOOD, CA (CNS) -- Up to 60 officers in an elite Los Angeles police squad who roughed up participants and journalists at a pro-immigration rally at MacArthur Park were taken off the streets, police Chief William Bratton announced.

Officers in the Metropolitan Division's B Platoon ''in all likelihood will not remain in that unit and some of them will not be returning to the Metropolitan function, as a result of some of our investigation into the actions of some of our officers,'' Bratton told media representatives who had assembled at a conference room at KTLA-TV in Hollywood.

The Metropolitan Division is the city's premier police squad, made up of experienced, career officers with extensive training and modern equipment in crowd control tactics, the police chief said.

''This was not the idea that my least-trained, my least-experienced officers were the ones engaged in the activities,'' Bratton told the journalists. ''This was my best, and that was what was extraordinarily disturbing about this.''

Meantime, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa attended a ''peace Mass'' at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels and went to MacArthur Park to reassure people they would be safe there.

On Tuesday, demonstrators, journalists and police officers were injured in the park when police ordered the crowd to disperse at the end of a pro- immigration march and rally that drew tens of thousands of people. Officers clad in riot gear used batons and fired foam rubber bullets to disperse the crowd.

Four separate agencies are investigating what went wrong at MacArthur Park, including the FBI.

Bratton initially said ''anarchists'' or ''agitators'' provoked the police by throwing bottles and other objects.

Bratton revealed that the officers seen on videotape firing rubber bullets and manhandling journalists were not the same officers who had rocks and bottles tossed at them by some participants at the otherwise peaceful rally.

''There will be no scapegoats here,'' Bratton said.

He said further disciplinary action will await the completion of an LAPD investigation, which is to be presented to the City Council May 30.

The chief also said that the entire chain of responsibility within the police department will be examined for responsibility.

''I feel very comfortable apologizing in general, particularly to the press corps that were subject to what I believe were inappropriate actions on the part of some members of that unit,'' Bratton said. ''Corruption, brutality, inappropriate behavior, I'm not going to defend. I'm not going make a fool of myself. A lot of what happened on that field that day is indefensible.''

Bratton said 146 foam rubber bullets were fired at a crowd he said was peaceful and lawful -- down from an earlier estimate of 240 projectiles.

Videotape shown around the world shows LAPD officers, including members of the B Platoon, apparently violating numerous LAPD policies, Bratton said.

The chief said a failure of command officers may have been responsible for the melee.

''One thing I know about (police) is you have to control them, because they go out of control faster than any human being in the world'' because of the tension and danger they face daily, he said.

Among the issues to be examined are why a helicopter was used to deliver the order to disperse in English when many of the ralliers only spoke Spanish, and the treatment of reporters and photojournalists doing their jobs, Bratton said.

Representatives from 10 different associations of journalists met with the department's top brass at the TV station to ask why LAPD policies toward the news media that had been worked out after reporters were assaulted by police during the 2000 Democratic National Convention were ignored.

''What is so hard for officers to understand that you don't hurt reporters who are doing their jobs?'' asked Pilar Marrero, a reporter and columnist for La Opinion. ''I mean, it seems to me, you don't have to be highly- trained for that.''

Cecilia E. Alvear, a freelance journalist and former president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, questioned whether police ever received training to follow procedures to protect journalists that were imposed upon the force following a slew of lawsuits stemming from the DNC incident.

''It's been seven years since that happened and have the policemen been trained to understand that they have to respect working journalists in those events?'' she asked.

Designated safe spots were required in a 2002 agreement with media organizations and the American Civil Liberties Union, and such provisions were made last year when an immigration rally six times larger than Tuesday's was held.

Mary Grady, the department's civilian spokeswoman, acknowledged that ''some failures were made'' and instead of designating an official safe spot for journalists at MacArthur Park to cover the rally, information was communicated verbally.
Reporter Jim Nash of KTLA wondered why police riot gear does not include identification numbers, which he said allows police officers to escape responsibility for individual actions.

Bratton said his department will look into ways to improve media relations and avoid future confrontations. The department is examining how to improve press credentials that would offer the media greater visibility; better ways to identify individual officers; and said more money would be used to equip the department's helicopters with cameras and connect them to traffic and park cameras.

Susan Seager, a board member with the Society of Professional Journalists' Greater L.A. chapter, questioned whether department officials supported a bill being considered by legislators that would allow disciplined officers to be named and the nature of their disciplinary action to be exposed.

Although both the mayor and police chief are listed as supporters on the bill, Bratton said that as written, the proposed legislation is ''too broad- reaching.''

''It would reach into the rights and responsibility of the police commission in what we believe is an intrusive way,'' he said. ''The idea that (Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles') bill as we understand it would allow the public into the internal deliberations of the police commissioners is like going into a jury room with a jury.''

John McCoy, local president of the Press Photographers Association, said what happened Tuesday boiled down to a ''failure here to communicate.''

''I think there needs to be communication, I think there definitely needs to be some training on both sides,'' he said.

While the police chief was meeting with journalists, the mayor spoke at the Cathedral Our Lady of the Angels, where Cardinal Roger Mahony was celebrating what was billed as a Mass of consolation and healing for those who were hurt or frightened by Tuesday's violence.

Outside the cathedral, Villaraigosa said ''it is important for us in these moments to remember that we must come together, work together, to insure that what happened on May 1st doesn't happen again.

''The only way we can do that is to ensure that those responsible for the decisions that were made, that caused the violence, on May 1st be held accountable,'' the mayor said. He said the chain of responsibility starts with him.

The mayor spent the afternoon at MacArthur Park, listening to and reassuring the ''people who marched on May 1st,'' whom he described as ''families ... hard-working people.''


The Rising 'Climate of Terror' for Migrants in the U.S.

"The growing wave of xenophobia and racism against Latinos in the United States is not a product of isolated incidents: it is nourished by Washington's deliberate policy of criminalizing immigrants, which is translated into institutional violence against them."


Translated By Halszka Czarnocka

May 5, 2007

Mexico - La Jornada

This past first of May, tens of thousands of people across the United States demonstrated for across-the-board immigration reform and against the wall being built on the border with Mexico. In Los Angeles, although people were marching peacefully, police using tear gas, rubber bullets and clubs attacked the multitude - which included women and children - with a singular and inexplicable violence.

The brutal repression in Los Angeles was one more among many acts of violence perpetrated against migrants in the U.S. over recent days. Last Thursday in Gaithersburg, Maryland, there was an attempt to set fire to a center for day laborers, apparently by a group of xenophobes. Also on May 1st, an armed man - supposedly a member of the anti-immigrant organization the Minutemen - was detained during a march of about two thousand on the streets of Washington D.C. These events are signs of a growing tendency to attack undocumented workers: intimidation, threats, insults, beatings and even kidnappings are becoming more and more frequent realities.

At the same time, the White House is preparing for the Cinco de Mayo celebration, a day that has become an important holiday for all Hispanics in the United States. Nevertheless, this importance only figures in speeches and not in the acts of the Bush administration.

The growing wave of xenophobia and racism against Latinos in the United States is not a series of isolated incidents: it is nourished by Washington's deliberate policy of criminalizing immigrants, which translates into institutional violence against them. The granting of broader powers to the Border Patrol to contain the migration, the ease and impunity with which its agents can kill undocumented people, an aggressive media campaign against the immigrants and the raids and deportations of recent months - which have produced an atmosphere of terror and threaten to tear apart entire families - have all led to a climate of aggression against Hispanics. How can one avoid this kind of violence when the authorities of the United States are the main perpetrators?

This situation is also partly due to the fact that due to a severe lack of cohesion and unity, the Hispanic movement has been unable to add the needed force and weight to its demands. Thus, this year's May 1st demonstrations drew a smaller number of people than last year, when marches were mobilized due to the debate on migratory reform.

For its part, the Mexican government persists in its silence on the issue of human rights violations that its citizens suffer on U.S. soil, instead of protecting them, which is its constitutional obligation.

In the face of this wave of aggression, it is urgent to stress the human rights aspects of migration and to close off the path toward violence - which can only contaminate the debate and foil cooperation on an issue that is vital to both countries. The question of migration cannot be confronted like a problem of national security, since it is far more a question of economics.


LAPD High-Ranking Cop Demoted After May Day Clash

Tuesday , May 08, 2007


The highest-ranking police official at the scene of a violent May 1 clash between officers and people at an immigration rally last week was demoted Monday and his second-in-charge was reassigned, Police Chief William Bratton said.

Deputy Chief Cayler "Lee" Carter Jr., commanding officer of Operations Central Bureau, was demoted to the rank of commander and assigned to his home. Cmdr. Louis Gray was moved to a post in the Office of Operations.

Bratton announced the moves at a press conference along with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the president of the city's civilian Police Commission, John Mack.

"I have to be comfortable with the leadership around me," Bratton said, but he noted that he could not state the specific reasons for the moves because they were personnel matters.

"This is a personnel decision, this is not a disciplinary action," Bratton said.

Police were videotaped using batons and firing rubber bullets at rally-goers and journalists gathered in MacArthur Park after an otherwise peaceful march for immigration reform. Bratton said a group of agitators threw rocks and bottles at officers wearing riot gear.

Neither Carter nor Gray returned messages left at their offices.

Carter has been in the department for more than three decades and was responsible for deployment of 1,700 officers serving more than 1 million residents in an area the size of Washington, D.C., according to the department's Web site.

Gray joined the force 39 years ago. A statement attributed to him on the Web site said he is a "strong supporter" of community policing.

"Forming partnerships with the community and solving problems together is the best way to combat crime and improve the quality of life for all persons who live and work in the City of Los Angeles," it said.

Los Angeles police leaders over the years have repeatedly faced intense public criticism for failing to take action after reports of police brutality.

Bratton is seeking a second five-year contract as chief. The local American Civil Liberties Union has stood by its endorsement of a second term for Bratton.

We all have responsibility and we're assuming that responsibility by ensuring that we get to the bottom of what happened here," Villaraigosa said.

Villaraigosa shortened a trade mission to Central America and returned to town Friday after criticism for being away during a swelling crisis.

The melee is the focus of four separate investigations.

The City Council Monday created a task force to monitor the internal police investigation into what happened.

"The health of our city depends even more now on our swift action, rigorous investigation and on our conduct of the people's business in broad daylight," said City Council President Eric Garcetti.


Monday, May 07, 2007

Chief Takes May Day Officers Off Street

The Associated Press
Monday, May 7, 2007; 2:27 AM

Police Chief William Bratton, holds an LAPD issued press card like the ones that journalists were wearing during the police clash on May 1st during a meeting with journalists at the KTLA TV studios in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles on Sunday, May 6, 2007. Journalists were among those roughed up as Metropolitan Division's B Platoon moved through the park and fired rubber bullets to break up what had been a peaceful and lawful immigration rally. Bratton said members of the Division who swarmed into the park are no longer on the street. (AP Photo/Stefano Paltera, Pool) (Stefano Paltera - AP)

LOS ANGELES -- Police Chief William Bratton said Sunday that up to 60 members of an elite squad that swarmed into a park and fired rubber bullets during a May Day immigration rally are no longer on the street.

Bratton said he spent the weekend viewing video of the MacArthur Park incident and he said LAPD failures were widespread with officers from the top on down culpable.

"I'm not going to defend the indefensible," Bratton told journalists groups during a meeting at a television studio in Hollywood. "Things were done that shouldn't have been done."

Journalists were among those roughed up as Metropolitan Division's B Platoon moved through MacArthur and fired 148 rubber bullets to break up what had been a peaceful and lawful immigration rally.

Police said they moved in after rocks and bottles were thrown at them by 30 to 40 agitators, he said.

The Metropolitan Division is the city's premier police squad, made up of experienced officers who have extensive training in crowd control.

Bratton said up to 60 members of the Metro's B Platoon are no longer in the field. Additionally, he said, some officers will "in all likelihood" not return to the Metropolitan Division.

"Some of this will be career-impacting," Bratton said, adding that imposition of permanent discipline will await completion of the Police Department investigation.

Journalist organizations asked why officers ignored LAPD policies toward the news media worked out after reporters were assaulted during the 2000 Democratic National Convention.

A 2002 agreement called for designation of a safe spot for reporters covering news events. LAPD spokeswoman Mary Grady acknowledged reporters were not given "a designated safe spot" at MacArthur Park.

"There appears to have been here a failure to communicate," Press Photographers Association local president John McCoy said.


Sunday, May 06, 2007

Hate Makes a Comeback

ABC News Law & Justice Unit

Groups Like the Ku Klux Klan and Neo-Nazis Target Mexican Immigrants

The roiling American border debate over immigration has revived one of the ugliest chapters in American history and become a vital recruiting tool for hate groups, experts say.

The number of hate groups -- from the Ku Klux Klan to neo-Nazis and skinhead groups -- has risen by 40 percent since 2000, from 602 to 844, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks such groups.

And they've turned their jaundiced eye toward Latin Americans, particularly Mexicans, in an alarming number of apparent hate crimes.

Watch the full report on hate crimes on "World News With Charles Gibson" tonight on ABC.

Take David Ritcheson, 16, a Mexican-American football star born in Houston. He was beaten nearly to death by two skinheads at a teen party. They poured bleach on him and beat him mercilessly. Ritcheson was in a coma for days, and suffered massive internal injuries, internal bleeding and a shattered cheekbone. He is now deaf in one ear.

"I just didn't expect my race to become a situation," Ritcheson told ABC News senior Law & Justice correspondent Jim Avila.

Ritcheson testified before a congressional committee last month about the need for stronger hate crime legislation.

"I don't think there's any question at all that hate crimes against Hispanics and anyone really perceived to be an immigrant are very much on the rise," said Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The fear is real -- an undercover video taken by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and obtained exclusively by the ABC News, shows a klansman building a pipe bomb.

"All you've got to do is put the insides in and the powder," klansman Daniel Schertz can be heard telling an undercover agent. Schertz was later arrested for selling five pipe bombs that agents watched him make. He allegedly told an agent that he hoped the bombs would be used to blow up a bus full of Latinos. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Ellen Davis, Mary Harris, Gina Sunseri and Lauren Pearle contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2007 ABC News Internet Ventures


Fox News Camerawoman to file lawsuit against LA Police

Browne Greene Files Government Claim on Behalf of Fox TV Camerawoman Patti Ballaz Who Alleges She Was Attacked and Injured by LAPD Officers While Covering Immigration Rights Rally at MacArthur Park
Friday May 4, 1:00 pm ET

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Browne Greene filed a government claim for damages against the City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Police Department on behalf of Patricia "Patti" Ballaz. A camerawoman for FOX TV News in Los Angeles, Ms. Ballaz alleges that she was attacked and injured by Los Angeles Police Department Officers while she was on assignment covering a May 1, 2007 immigration rights rally at MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, CA. This is a mandatory first step, required by California law, before the Claimant can file a civil law suit for personal injury against the Respondents in Los Angeles Superior Court.

Patti Ballaz, age 48, and Fox TV reporter Christina Gonzalez were on assignment, covering the May 1, 2007 Immigration Rights Rally in Los Angeles. At approximately 6:00 PM, they were on location at the rally at MacArthur Park and were standing within a police-designated area for the press. While Ms. Ballaz was filming the event, she was allegedly struck several times by members of the Los Angeles Police Department, who were using batons and who knocked both her and her camera to the ground, causing her to sustain severe injuries.

Claimant alleges that the City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Police Department were negligent and reckless in using unwarranted force at the rally which caused her to be injured, and later taken to St. John's Hospital for medical treatment. She also alleges that Respondents' acts or failures to act precipitated the dangerous conditions that led to her attack.

"Once again, the LAPD has failed to comport itself properly in protecting the public," stated Browne Greene, "and as a consequence an innocent person has been injured. If the LAPD had followed its own protocols, this never would have happened. Patti Ballaz was a victim of police brutality for simply being at the right place at the wrong time. Our goal will be to take this case to trial and to hold the LAPD accountable in a court of law."

Editor's Note #1:

Claimant Patricia "Patti" Ballaz is represented by Browne Greene and Robert D. Jarchi with the Santa Monica, CA. law firm of Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP (; Tel: 310-576-1200.

Editor's Note #2:

It is mandatory to first file a Government Claim for Damages, as required by California law before a civil suit can be filed against a governmental entity. Claimants have six months from the date of the incident to file such a claim or they may be barred from filing it. After the governmental entity denies a claim, the claimant then has six months from that date to file a civil suit in Superior Court against the governmental entity.


Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP
Kathy Pinckert, Director of Marketing & Media Relations

Yahoo Turns Off Comments on Obama Stories

Posted by Brian Montopoli

Today informed its staff via email that they should no longer enable comments on stories about presidential candidate Barack Obama. The reason for the new policy, according to the email, is that stories about Obama have been attracting too many racist comments.

"It's very simple," Mike Sims, director of News and Operations for, told me. "We have our Rules of Engagement. They prohibit personal attacks, especially racist attacks. Stories about Obama have been problematic, and we won't tolerate it." does sometimes delete comments on an individual basis, but Sims said that was not sufficient in the case of Obama stories due to "the volume and the persistence" of the objectionable comments.

There has been a fierce debate about how news outlets should handle reader comments.'s Jim Brady, whose site, like, does not have the resources to filter comments in advance, told Howard Kurtz that he'd "rather figure out a way to do it better than not to do it at all."

But Post reporter Darryl Fears told Kurtz that comments should be eliminated if they can't be pre-screened for offensiveness.

"If you're an African American and you read about someone being called a porch monkey, that overrides any positive thing that you would read in the comments," he said. has no plans to disable comments on stories about the other presidential candidates, according to Sims. As for comments on Obama stories, he said the site is open to eventually bringing them back.

"We'd like to be able to return to them, and I'm not ruling that out," said Sims. "But at this point it's not possible."


Saturday, May 05, 2007

6 Indicted in Alabama Militia Raids

Associated Press Writer

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) -- Five men accused of belonging to a self-styled militia were indicted on federal explosives and weapons charges after raids that uncovered an arsenal of homemade hand grenades and firearms, authorities said.

The men remained in jail Thursday without bail after a federal agent testified this week that they were planning a machine gun attack on Mexicans.

The indictments Wednesday charged the five with conspiring to make hand grenades and possessing various weapons or explosives.

During the raids April 26 in a home and a camper, agents seized 130 hand grenades, a grenade launcher, about 70 hand grenades rigged to be fired from a rifle, a machine gun, a short-barrel shotgun and more than 2,500 rounds of ammunition, authorities said.

Defense attorneys indicated they would fight the charges against Raymond Kirk Dillard, 46; Adam Lynn Cunningham, 41; and James Ray McElroy, 20, all of Collinsville; Bonnell Hughes, 57, of Crossville; and Randall Garrett Cole, 22, of Gadsden.

A sixth man accused of meeting with members of the Alabama Free Militia was indicted on charges of being a marijuana user in possession of 10 or more firearms and marijuana possession.

Agents discovered weapons at Michael Wayne Bobo's parents Trussville house, where he lived, authorities said. A judge allowed Bobo to be released on a $10,000 property bond posted by his parents.

An ATF agent has testified that militia members stockpiled scores of hand grenades and weapons and planned a machine-gun attack on Mexicans. Neighbors have described some of the men as railing against illegal immigrants and the federal government.


Federal Agents Bust Alabama “Free Militia”

Federal agents executed four search warrants today in Alabama at the homes of “Free Militia” members. The search turned up:

* 130 grenades
* grenade launcher
* machine gun
* short barreled shot-gun
* two silencers
* numerous other firearms
* 2500 rounds of ammunition
* explosive components
* approximately 70 Improvised Explosive Devices (IED)
* commercial fireworks
* enough ammunition to fill a U-Haul trailer
* over 100 Marijuana plants

Agents also encountered booby traps at one location.

Here is the full press release from the U.S. Attorney’s office regarding the operation:

BIRMINGHAM, AL - This morning in DeKalb, Marshall and Jefferson Counties, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) spearheaded the execution of four federal search warrants at the homes of members of a group called “The Free Militia.” During the search warrants, ATF, along with state and local law enforcement recovered 130 grenades, a grenade launcher, a machine gun, a short barreled shot-gun, two silencers, numerous other firearms, 2500 rounds of ammunition, explosive components, approximately 70 Improvised Explosive Devices (IED), and commercial fireworks. Also recovered was enough ammunition to fill a U-Haul trailer, and over 100 Marijuana plants. While executing the search warrants, officers encountered booby traps at one location.

“Deadly explosives have been removed from these communities due to outstanding investigative efforts,” stated Alice H. Martin, United States Attorney. “All evidence developed will be presented quickly to a federal grand jury, and we will also ask that those arrested be detained without bond.”

“Today’s arrest and search warrants have been significant due to the success of the combined efforts by ATF, as well as our state, local and federal partners,” stated James Cavanaugh, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. “The communities in the area are a lot safer, considering the fact that large quantities of live grenades and other explosive materials have been safely removed. Excellent investigative team work led us to this point in our investigation.”

Those arrested today include:


of Collinsville (DeKalb County), Alabama;

ADAM LYNN CUNNINGHAM, 41, of Collinsville (DeKalb County), Alabama;

BONNELL HUGHES a/k/a BUSTER HUGHES, 57, of Crossville,

(Marshall County) Alabama;

RANDALL GARRETT COLE, 22, of Gadsden (Etowah County), Alabama;

JAMES RAY MCELROY, 20, of Collinsville (Etowah County), Alabama.

The criminal complaint charges those arrested with conspiracy to make a firearm, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, and a fine of $250,000. MICHAEL WAYNE BOBO, 30, of Trussville (Jefferson County), Alabama, was charged with being a drug user in possession of a firearm, which carries a maximum penalty of ten years in prison, and a fine of $250,000.

All the defendants appeared in U.S. District Court for an initial appearance. They will remain in Federal custody and are scheduled to appear for Detention Hearings on Tuesday, May 1, 2007, at 1:30 pm before a Magistrate Judge in U.S. District Court. An indictment has not been filed at this time, additional charges are likely.

“Governor Riley and I are pleased this operation was successful,” said Alabama Homeland Security Director Jim Walker.

“The U.S. Marshal Service, particularly in the Northern District, has enjoyed an excellent relationship with ATF,” stated U.S. Marshal Martin Keely. “We were pleased that we could contribute to the success of the operation.” DILLARD was a federal fugitive.

This investigation involved numerous federal, state and local law enforcement. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is the lead agency assisted by the Bomb Squads from Huntsville Police Department, Jefferson County, and Gadsden County Sheriffs’ Departments and Alabama Department of Public Safety Bomb Squad who worked with ATF Bomb Techs in securing the IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices). Other Agencies include, The U.S. Marshal Service, The Federal Bureau of Investigation, The Alabama State Fire Marshals, The Alabama Bureau of Investigation, and the Sheriff’s Offices and District Attorneys’ Offices of DeKalb, Etowah, Marshall, and Jefferson Counties.

Members of the public are reminded that a criminal complaint contains only charges. A defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.


Police arrest Minutemen terrorist

Tyler Joseph Froatz for weapons arsenal

Statement from Sarah Sloan,
National Staff Coordinator of the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition

On Tuesday, May 1, at approximately 1:00 pm, I was assaulted by Tyler Joseph Froatz. The assault took place in Malcolm X Park during set up for the May Day Immigrant Rights Rally. Mr. Froatz was arrested following the assault.

Tyler Joseph Froatz is a member of the Minutemen. A.N.S.W.E.R. and others have been protesting the Minutemen nationwide - in Los Angeles, at Columbia University in NYC, at Georgetown University in Washington DC, and elsewhere.

The Minutemen are not simply another conservative organization with xenophobic and racist ideas. They are an armed vigilante organization. Their members include many people with longstanding ties to white supremacist and terrorist organizations like the Ku Klux Klan and the Nazi Party. Their armed border patrols are designed to popularize and sanctify armed intimidation against immigrants.

On Tuesday, May 1, local Minutemen member Tyler Joseph Froatz was arrested at the immigrant rights rally following his unprovoked, violent assault. Mr. Froatz was found to be in possession of two knives one of them with a 12-inch blade - a flare gun and a stun gun. In a subsequent search of his vehicle and apartment, police found what is reported to be a large arsenal of rifles, handguns, ammunition, swords, bows, arrows, machetes, a grenade and grenade launcher. Mr. Froatz also had literature and graphic material depicting violent assaults against immigrants, including pregnant women and children.

Mr. Froatz is known to the media for his anti-immigrant positions. He was quoted in the May 3, 2006, Washington Times article that covered last year’s May Day protests: “Rally counterprotester Tyler Froatz, a member of the Herndon Minutemen, an illegal-entry watchdog group, agreed. ‘These protests are great for us and all other legal Americans because polls show that these protests only serve to alienate the community,’ said Mr. Froatz, 22.”

The Herndon Minutemen have spearheaded a vicious campaign of attacks on day laborers in Northern Virginia. Some day laborers have been arrested and deported. The Minutemen and government have functioned with the same objective of depriving immigrant workers of their livelihood. The government has carried out raids across the country tearing parents from their young children, all just to punish and terrorize people who are working to feed their families.

The Minutemen are just a tip of a racist and xenophobic iceberg. The Minutemen’s reputation has been sanitized as they are given ample coverage on Fox News, CNN’s Lou Dobbs and other mainstream media outlets.

When the Minutemen were brought to the Columbia University campus by the Republican Party, they were met by a peaceful protest organized by Latino, African American and other student groups. When the students carried out a peaceful protest against the presence of armed vigilantes they were met with Minutemen violence and assault. Fox News, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others condemned the protesting students not the brutal Minuteman thugs. Columbia obeyed the right wing pressure and punished the students, meting out explicitly racist discipline that was most severe to the Latino student activists.

The Minutemen and their racist and right-wing supporters openly promote armed vigilantism. The arrest of Mr. Froatz after his violent assault on an A.N.S.W.E.R. organizer proves once again that Minutemen spokespersons and organizers not only preach the rhetoric of anti-immigrant violence but they are armed to the teeth.

The government has worked to support these organized vigilantes. Last July, LAPD arrested and violently attacked A.N.S.W.E.R. organizers who were taking pictures of the Minutemen during a peaceful protest. Last Tuesday, May 1, the Los Angeles Police Department carried out a coordinated, violent assault on immigrant families, including children, who had participated in the May 1 march demanding comprehensive immigrant reform.

The Minutemen represent a racist poison, but all of those in the government and mainstream media who have helped create an anti-immigrant hysteria in the country are responsible too.

The A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition and all other progressive organizations who mobilized on May 1 and earlier will continue to campaign for immigrant rights and full legalization. We will expose the Minutemen and the forces of racism and bigotry, and we will continue to march with millions of other people around the country.

A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition
National Office in Washington DC: 202-544-3389
New York City: 212-694-8720
Los Angeles: 213-251-1025
San Francisco: 415-821-6545
Chicago: 773-463-0311

Friday, May 04, 2007

Immigration reform: The time is now

Our view: Opponents' silence at rallies this week spoke volumes on the issue
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 05.04.2007

By all accounts, the number of participants in the immigration-reform marches this week was down compared with last year's protests. While the pro-immigrant side had a smaller turnout, the anti-immigrant side was barely noticeable.

The sparse turnout by counterprotesters in a dozen or so American cities should cause communities to re-evaluate their opposition to immigration reform.

If Tuesday's protests are any indication of national sentiment, anti-immigrant activists should get the message that perhaps not many everyday people — as opposed to talking heads on radio and television — agree with their position.

According to a story by Lourdes Medrano and Dale Quinn in Wednesday's Star, some 2,500 Tucsonans marched in favor of reforming the nation's broken immigration laws. Counterprotesters numbered about half a dozen.

The Tucson showing was a high point for anti-immigration forces.
Chicago had the largest march on Tuesday, with 150,000 participants. A story in the Chicago Tribune made no mention of an organized counterprotest. Los Angeles had 35,000 marchers, but news accounts made no mention of counterprotesters.

It was the same story in Dallas, where no one was reportedly offering a counterbalance to some 3,000 to 5,000 marchers. The Seattle Times noted a handful of individual counterdemonstrators at a march of 5,000.

Anti-immigrant forces had their best showing in Phoenix, where 250 people organized by the Minuteman movement held a counterprotest while 15,000 people marched.
If more people truly feel it is in the best interest of this country to deport all illegal immigrants and greatly increase border security, then more counterprotesters would have gone out to blunt the message of those in favor of immigration reform.
We hope that the numbers from Tuesday's rallies are truly indicative of national sentiment.

Letters to the editor and comments on the Star's Web site have blamed illegal immigrants for everything from traffic congestion and tainted spinach to the layoffs of Tucson Medical Center workers and urban sprawl.

We hope these are the views of a very small and misinformed minority.
Much of the vitriol directed at illegal immigrants comes from a land of make believe created by anti-immigrant commentators on radio and television who spew xenophobia and hate.

Take for example, claims that illegal immigrants are exploiting the health-care system and precluding U.S. citizens' access to health care. Illegal immigrants are entitled only to emergency care. At worst, U.S. citizens might have to wait a little longer in the emergency room. We see no evidence that citizens are being denied health care, either in the emergency room or in normal medical settings.
We are heartened by a comment President Bush made Thursday concerning the immigration reform debate in Washington, D.C.

"Comprehensive immigration reform means that we've got to be humane about the nearly 11 or 12 million people who are already here," the president said. "We need to treat these people not with amnesty, and not with animosity. So it's got to be a rational way forward."

Thankfully, animosity was a rarity during Tuesday's marches. We hope it remains that way as lawmakers debate immigration reform.

Congress must pass comprehensive immigration reform that includes border security, a guest-worker program, sanctions for workers who employ illegal entrants and a path to citizenship for those already here.

The STRIVE Act, for Security Through Regularized Immigration and a Vibrant Economy, is not a perfect solution, but it is a reasonable compromise.


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Minutemen vs children at school playground

Guilty Verdicts Are a Setback for White Supremacy Groups

April 23rd, 2007 @ 6:44pm

John Daley Reporting

Last week, jurors in a federal trial in Salt Lake convicted three members of the National Alliance in racially-motivated attacks. A leading watchdog sees the verdict as another significant setback for the group.

The National Alliance first drew attention in Utah with a racially-oriented billboard on State Street in September of 2004. Around that time, a series of posters were found hanging from overpasses. Most were anti-Iraq war, but one read: "Love they neighbor, unless they are brown."

The group denied any connection to the posters but defended its Web site which targeted a member of the Utah legislature singling him out as a Jewish politician and showing his photo. In 2004, Travis Massey, the Utah Coordinator for the National Alliance said, "I don't understand why they'd find that offensive, any more than if someone described me as Travis Massey, National Alliance member, or Travis Massey, Caucasian. I see no difference."

Last week, a jury convicted Travis Massey and two others, including Shaun Walker, a former national leader of the National Alliance, of federal hate crimes. Jurors found them guilty in a pair of incidents. One of the incidents happened outside the bar O'Shucks in 2002. A Mexican-American bartender was provoked and assaulted. Three months later, the same thing happened to a Native-American man. Both were attacked by a group which hurled racial epithets at them.

The director the Southern Poverty Law Center, Mark Potok, said the group would probably struggle for some time.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, in 2002 the Alliance had 1,400 members nationwide, 17 full-time, paid staffers and was making $1 million a year from sales of white power music.

Today, with the death of its founder and leader, leadership battles and membership declines, the group has less than 150 members, a small handful of staffers and is losing money.

The Law Center says while big groups, including the Aryan Nation, have struggled, there are now more smaller groups - 40 percent more since 2000.

Potok said, "But generally when you look at the overall picture, they are growing, largely on the immigration issue, and I suspect that they'll continue to grow at least for the next few years."

Our calls to National Alliance headquarters in West Virginia were not returned.

The three convicted men could face up to 20 years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for July.


KKK ads attached to morning paper

04/30/2007 07:34 AM
By: News 14 Carolina Web Staff

GREENSBORO -- Neighbors in the Beechcroft neighborhood off of Stanley Road in Greensboro got what they call a rude awakening Sunday morning.

At the foot of almost every driveway was a flier from the Ku Klux Klan, advertising an upcoming immigration protest taking place in cities around the U.S. The leaflet was wrapped around a section of the Rhinoceros Times, and the paper's publisher is taking issue with how the Klan is getting its message out.

The KKK flier was found wrapped around a section of the Rhino Times.
“Some people think that it's something that we allow to be inserted in our paper, and we would never knowingly do any business with the Klan,” William Hammer said. “We have stricter advertising regulations than the daily paper and I believe any paper in the market.”

This isn't the first time the rhinoceros times has had a run in with the KKK. In September, Hammer filed a lawsuit against the Klan for using his newspaper to spread its information.

“Our goal is to have a precedent set that the Klan cannot do this to any publication and we would like to stop it nationally, but we'd also like to find out who's doing it locally,” he said.

A judge threw out a counter-suit filed by the Klan in Arkansas earlier this month. News 14 Carolina tried to reach the KKK at its national office but was unsuccessful.


Skinhead Arrested In 1998 Killings


Published: Apr 27, 2007

TAMPA - A second suspect has been arrested in the 1998 slaying of two homeless men who were killed as part of an activity called "bum rolling," according to court documents unsealed Thursday.

The suspect, admitted white supremacist skinhead Kenneth Hoover, 34, of Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty last month to two counts of murder in racketeering activity, according to the documents.

Another suspect, Charles Marovskis, was arrested in January in Avoca, Pa., charged in the killings of the homeless men, Alfred Williams and Richard Arseneau.

According to court papers, the defendants were part of a white racist organization called "Tampa Blood and Honour," which planned to participate in a race war and to kill people they thought to be inferior.

On Sept. 12, 1998, an unidentified homeless man was attacked by skinheads under an Interstate 275 overpass at Bird Street, but he escaped, Hoover's plea agreement states.

The next day, Williams and Arseneau were killed. The body of Williams, 62, was found under a Lee Roy Selmon Expressway overpass. He was beaten and stabbed in the eye with a tire iron.

Arseneau, 44, was found in woods near Interstate 275 and Fletcher Avenue. He was killed by a small ax, the plea agreement states.


Sharing the Hate

Video-Sharing Websites Become Extremist Venue
By Brentin Mock

Los Angeles blacks are destroying property and attacking white people as a soft, pitiful ballad plays in the background. Then, about two minutes into the video, the words "Whose Freedom?" appear as a still frame of a young, smiling German girl at a Third Reich rally suddenly replaces the footage of the 1992 Rodney King riots. A man wearing a swastika armband stands protectively behind her, his head cropped from the frame, while the words, "A paradise lost," scroll down beneath her chin. Finally, a message, "Save the White Race," fills the screen before dissolving into a Celtic cross encircled by the phrase, "White Pride World Wide."

NSM International, a recruiting arm of the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement, produced this video, probably at a cost of just a few dollars. But despite its amateurish nature, its makers are getting a big bang for their buck, thanks to YouTube, the red-hot video-sharing website that allows anyone with a camera phone or digital camcorder to upload for free their videos. The NSM video is now available to millions of people.

Welcome to the latest medium for the American radical right — one more electronic venue that seems particularly suited for recruitment of the young. Since it was founded in February 2005, YouTube, along with competitors like Flickr and Google Video, has become hugely popular, especially among the young. YouTube alone streams hundreds of millions of clips daily to a global audience, with its users posting more than 65,000 new videos to its swollen archives every day. And while extremist clips like the NSM recruitment video are only a tiny percentage of those posts, neo-Nazis and other white supremacists are close on the heels of the commercial advertisers now rushing to exploit this still-burgeoning medium.

"Increasingly, the Internet is replacing membership groups as the primary way for white supremacists to obtain information and communicate," asserts a January report on the white supremacist movement by Strategic Forecasting Incorporated, an intelligence analysis think tank. "Adherents regularly establish their presence on popular Web destinations such as MySpace and YouTube."

As of mid-January, roughly 12,000 white supremacist propaganda videos, hate rock concert highlight reels, and Holocaust denial pseudo-documentaries, many of them posted anonymously, were openly available on video-sharing websites. (This estimate was derived through keyword searches of the three leading sites and an analysis of how many were extremist, rather than merely mentioning extremism.) One of the most popular videos, "Branik White Power," is a poor-quality depiction of skinheads gone wild, set to roaring hate rock. The high-speed montage depicts Nazi skins dancing violently in the "mosh pit" near the stage, throwing punches, waving "SS" flags, and showing off white-power tattoos. Since it was posted by YouTube user "bulldog88" in May 2006, it has been downloaded more than 40,000 times.

Some of the most noxious videos are more reserved in their approach, such as "The Real David Duke," which has the former Klan leader pontificating on race relations for nine minutes and which has been viewed more than 10,000 times since it was posted last October. Another example, is "David Irving on the Holocaust," a five-and-a-half-minute excerpt of a speech by the notorious Holocaust denier in Britain that's been downloaded over 4,000 times during the same time period.

The Irving video was posted to YouTube last October by "Hadden88" ("88" is neo-Nazi code for "Heil Hitler"), who has compiled his own YouTube "channel" of 79 videos, most of them anti-Semitic mini-"documentaries" and speeches by hate peddlers like Irving, National Alliance founder William Pierce, and Adolf Hitler.

Other popular YouTube racist videos include a series of six "White Nationalist News" clips, the earliest episode dated last Sept. 8, some of which have been viewed more than 3,000 times; "Ku Klux Klan – A Secret History," posted in September, and its accompaniment "Ku Klux Klan 4-Ever," posted in December, each viewed over 11,000 times; "Nazi KKK," posted in October and viewed 15,000 times; "Russian skinheads. We are here," posted in December and viewed over 45,000 times; and "Skinhead" posted in November and viewed 132,000 times.

Video-sharing may be a particularly effective way for extremist groups, which have long sought ways to find new recruits, to connect with young people. You-Tube and its imitators are immensely popular among children, teenagers and young adults, and sometimes a single video will be downloaded literally millions of times. In addition, compared to direct-mail literature or dead-of-night "literature drops" on people's lawns, posting video footage is vastly less difficult, expensive, risky and time-consuming — and it can be done anonymously with virtually no effort.

Videos can also easily be used to create a false image. While back-country Klan cross-burnings, warehouse hate rock festivals, and neo-Nazi park rallies may draw only a handful of supporters, a crafty amateur filmmaker can edit or exploit camera angles to foster the illusion of a much larger and more dramatic event.

NSM, for example, posted a YouTube video last October depicting their August rally in Madison, Wis. A couple of dozen NSM members, dressed like Nazi storm troopers, seig-heil enthusiastically as the speaker rails: "Pedro go home! White America was founded by white Americans for white Americans! We will not allow our nation to become brown!" The camera lingers lovingly on the snappy accessories and stern gazes of the NSM, creating in the minds of some electronic visitors the impression of a polished, powerful show. But what the footage doesn't show is hundreds of booing, jeering anti-racist protesters right across the street.

Questioned last December by the Intelligence Report about NSM videos on YouTube, NSM Commander Jeff Schoep claimed: "The effectiveness of the NSM and its growth speaks for itself. We use many tools." Schoep also complained that civil rights groups were pressuring YouTube to remove "all so-called racist content."

Actually, YouTube already bans "hate speech," defined as "slurs or the malicious use of stereotypes intended to attack or demean a particular gender, sexual orientation, race, religion or nationality." But the sheer volume of video files posted to the site each day makes it practically impossible to police all content. As a result, particular videos are normally only removed as a result of a user complaint.

"We remove the offending content and send users a warning notice for violating our terms of use," says Jennifer Nielsen, marketing manager for YouTube. "Users who repeatedly violate our terms of use have their accounts terminated, all of their videos removed and they are permanently banned from YouTube."

Racist extremists are hardly likely to be deterred by such mild consequences, particularly because most live in countries with criminal penalties for possession or distribution of such Internet propaganda. By using American video-sharing websites, foreign extremists like Germany's National Democratic Party (NPD) make it vastly more difficult for legal action to be brought against them in their own countries.

The NPD, a neofascist political party, frequently posts newscasts of Hitler memorials and Holocaust-denying speeches on U.S.-based video sharing sites. Last December, for example, after the NPD posted glowing reports on YouTube of a highly publicized conference of Holocaust deniers hosted by Iran, the British paper The Independent described YouTube as "a favorite neo-Nazi website."

While YouTube operators now have scrubbed the site for those NPD videos, more than 350 other NPD clips are still available on YouTube, and the party recently announced plans to launch its own video-sharing website, based in America. Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi minister of propaganda, would be proud.

Intelligence Report
Spring 2007


Fear of foreigners drives immigration debate

Commentary: Fear of foreigners drives immigration debate
By Ruben Navarrette Jr.
Special to CNN
SAN DIEGO, California (CNN) -- This week marks the first anniversary of a series of major demonstrations over immigration reform. And while an entire year has gone by, Americans really haven't learned that much about the subject matter.

For instance, some immigration restrictionists are still playing pretend. They are still insisting that the only thing that people are concerned about is illegal immigration and that, with regard to legal immigration, America is as welcoming as ever.

What? Maybe that's true ... if we agree that -- despite the brochure -- America has never really welcomed immigrants, even the legal kind.

Those who insist otherwise point out that the United States takes in about 2 million legal immigrants annually.

Big deal. In a country of 300 million people that bills itself as the land of immigrants, taking in less than 1 percent of your population in legal immigrants is nothing to brag about.

Besides, the history is clear. In the late 1700's, Benjamin Franklin fretted over Pennsylvania becoming "a colony of aliens" thanks to German immigrants. In the mid-1800's, concerned that immigrants from the Far East wouldn't assimilate, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act to keep out ... guess who. And in the early 1900's, Congress targeted Italians, Jews and Greeks by creating quotas that limited immigration by country of origin.

In each of those cases, those who tried to shut the door didn't care a whit that the people they were keeping out were coming legally. All they cared about was that the immigrants on the other side of that door were foreigners with weird languages, strange religions, and peculiar customs.

Not much has changed. Much of what's driving the current debate is the same fear of foreigners and the changes they bring.

Some groups pushing the restrictionist agenda -- such as NUMBERS USA, the Federation for American Immigration Reform and the Center for Immigration Studies, all of them started with the help of nativist John Tanton -- want to limit legal immigration as well. And Congress can't seem to debate immigration reform without declaring English the national language, even though one has nothing to do with the other.

In public opinion polls, a majority of Americans now say they want to limit all immigration, including the legal kind.

Some pundits claim that legal immigration leads to illegal immigration because, once people come to the United States legally, their relatives will follow even if it means coming illegally. On the flip side, there are those who oppose offering illegal immigrants a path to legal residency because it could make it easier for millions of additional immigrants to come into the country legally through policies that push family unification.

Others insist that the cultural concerns that come with having too much immigration -- people not learning English, changing neighborhoods, etc. -- don't go away when the immigrants in question come legally.

So let's stop pretending that it's only illegal immigration that has Americans worked up. It's immigration -- period. Along the way, we should have at least learned that much.

Ruben Navarrette Jr. is a member of the editorial board of The San Diego Union-Tribune and a nationally syndicated columnist.You can read his column here.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer.