The city of Bellingham and the state’s Democratic Party have denounced as racist and divisive the presence of civilian patrols at the U.S.-Canada border and want Gov. Christine Gregoire to tell them they’re not needed.
Referring to the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps as “self-appointed militia and vigilantes with limited training,” Bellingham’s City Council this week passed a resolution condemning the volunteer guards, who stationed themselves Oct. 1 at eight posts between Blaine and Sumas.
“We’re hoping that Gov. Gregoire takes a serious look at this and make it clear that militia and the Minutemen with their violence and racism are not welcomed here,” said Bellingham Councilwoman Barbara Ryan, who sponsored the measure. She said the city has sent the resolution to Gregoire’s office urging her to adopt a similar position for the state.
“The presence of these folks is disturbing because we have a long history of militia activity that has targeted people of color,” said Ryan. “This is not the image we need here.”
The Washington State Democratic Party passed a similar resolution last month in anticipation of the Minutemen’s arrival.
There are about 17 Minutemen stationed at the eight posts, far from the 50 or so organizers originally anticipated. Nearly two weeks after they began their border watch, the patrols are mostly cold, wet and bored.
While some property owners have put up signs asking the patrols not to trespass on their property, others have welcomed them.
“I don’t sense a major groundswell,” he said. “I think most people would rather they didn’t show up but are willing to ride out the month.”