Lupe Lopez brings a twist to the immigration debate.
Her focus is not on whether the U.S. border should be better-protected against illegal immigration from Mexico. She says that’s an issue for the two nations’ presidents.
But she and her group, Alianza Indigena (Alliance of Indigenous People) believe that Indians whose traditional lands straddle the border should be allowed to move freely across it.
Then in April, Lopez traveled to Arizona to observe the Minuteman Project.
“We understand the problem, and the Minutemen are not the way to deal with the problem,” she said. “People full of hate and racism are not going to solve the problem.”
She helped organize a May 25 protest to demonstrate opposition. She said her intentions were nonviolent—but she stopped well short of condemning the rock and can throwing that took place.
“When there is hatred in the community, things can happen. The supporters of the Minutemen provoked us. They shouted at us and swore at us, tried to intimidate us. It wasn’t like the Minutemen just parked their cars and went inside.”
Most attendees did simply go straight inside, but a few traded barbs first.
Attendees “shouldn’t have done that,” said Ada McKnight, a Minuteman Project supporter at the meeting. She said the protesters “are so full of hate. They’re ignorant and we understand that. They’re irrational savages. The answer to everything is, ‘You’re a racist.’“
One man going to the meeting, Harold Netkin, was arrested when he bumped two protesters to the ground while driving into the parking lot. But the longtime anti-illegal immigration activist was released when police reviewed a videotape and saw that his path was being blocked by protesters, who banged on the vehicle.
“I am disappointed with Hal Netkin’s charges being dropped,” Lopez said. “He knew what he was doing.”