Posted on March 21, 2005

Border Watcher Draws Protest

Erika I. Ritchie, Orange County Register, March 20, 2005

Jim Gilchrist hopes most of his neighbors won’t believe the signs held by protesters at the entrance to his quiet, gated community.

They included “Minuteman, a racist domestic terrorist” and “KKK supports Minuteman” scrawled in bold letters and displayed by almost 50 protesters standing on sidewalks near the Vista de Oro gated community.

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The Minuteman Project founder calls the signs “McCarthyism and all-out lying.”

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The protesters, many from UC Riverside, don’t see it that way. They held signs, passed out fliers and made noise outside the gated community.

Jesse Diaz, a graduate student from UC Riverside, helped organize Saturday’s “call to action.” On Easter, the group plans to demonstrate again in front of a nearby church where they believe he worships.

“He will not go unfettered and challenged,” Diaz said. “This is a response to the Minuteman militia going to the border to apprehend individuals at gunpoint. We feel this is domestic terrorism. We want to expose him for what he is — a white-supremacist racist.”

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Most of the neighbors were receptive, Diaz said.

“They’ve promised to call him and see what he’s doing.”

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Tom Dillingham, 42, looked upthe Minuteman Project’s Web site after seeing the protest and said he was disturbed by its position.

He used to think he had something in common with his neighbor, he said.

He knew Gilchrist as a quiet man who hung out at the community pool with his grandchildren, who are close in age to Dillingham’s own children.

Now he’s worried that the racism he felt was pervasive in his former state of Louisiana might have surfaced here.

“I don’t like these types of organizations,” he said. “You just don’t know who your neighbor is.”

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