Immigration Protest Erupts in Fisticuffs

Jerry Davich, Northwest Indiana News (Gary), March 26, 2006

MUNSTER—Blaring car horns, racist slurs and angry fisticuffs punctuated a volatile encounter of protesters and counter-protesters Saturday morning outside Bank Calumet.

“God bless America! Stay out of our business!” yelled members of the locally based Indiana Federation for Immigration Reform and Enforcement.

“Go home (expletive) Nazi racists!” yelled members of an opposing group of circling counterprotesters.

The federation, a public interest organization advocating what it calls immigration policies with an impact, demonstrated against bank loans for undocumented aliens, echoing six similar previous local protests.

Several members of the Chicago Minuteman Project joined the federation, hoisting protest signs to passing motorists and exchanging verbal jabs with visibly angry counterprotesters.

“We’re not racists, we’re LEGAL Americans,” Minuteman members yelled under American flags whipping in a fierce wind. “Those people are Communists.”

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When 63-year-old Chicago Minuteman member Rick Biesada arrived and pulled out his protest sign, he claimed that two counterprotesters yanked it from him. When he yanked it back, the men assaulted him, knocking him to the ground, he said.

The Lindenhurst, Ill., resident was treated by paramedics at the scene for a gash over his eye and dizziness, spending a few minutes inside an ambulance before returning to the protest.

“I wished he fell to the ground harder,” Findley said.

Munster police Sgt. Nick Hudak, one of several officers showing up to stand between the opposing groups, said no arrests were made and no other injuries occurred.

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