Joshua Rhett Miller, New York Metro, July 27, 2006
Ground Zero — The release of a book on illegal immigration yesterday quickly transformed into a shouting match on the issue when pro-immigrant protesters arrived to chant, “Racists, go home!”
The book, “Minutemen: The Battle to Secure America’s Borders,” was billed as a 375-page how-to guide to create a safer United States by closing its borders to illegal immigrants.
“We call upon President Bush to fulfill his oath of office, which is to preserve, protect and defend the United States of America, not a North American union, not a security and prosperity partnership of North America,” said co-author Jerome Corsi, prompting cheers from roughly 50 supporters and members of the New Yorkers for Immigration Control and Enforcement.
But it wasn’t until Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minuteman Project, a group best known for its citizen patrols along the U.S.-Mexico border, took the microphone that the rally turned raucous.
“Behind me, you can see the remnants of what’s left over — the consequences of non-enforcement of our immigration laws for so many decades,” he said. “To some, it cost them their family members.”
Gilchrist, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, then glanced across Liberty Street, where pro-immigration demonstrators outnumbered his followers and said: “This is not the first time I’ve faced Satan. Yes, we have names for them too.”
Since 9/11, Gilchrist said, nearly 28,000 Americans have been murdered “at the hands” of illegal aliens, 95 percent of whom came from Mexico.
“They’re literally transporting their impoverished society into the United States,” Gilchrist said.
Chants were returned by the pro-immigrant crowd cordoned off by police barricades — many of them members of the NYC May 1 Coalition.
“We were really upset by the mentality of these people,” said Walter Sinche, an immigrant now living in Queens. “The guts they had to come to New York and talk about immigrants. New York was built by immigrants.”
Minuteman Project founder Jim Gilchrist and his co-author Jerome Corsi dispute a Reuters report of their book-tour kickoff at Ground Zero in New York City that implied the citizen border-watch group provoked a physical confrontation with protesters.
The second paragraph of a Reuters story by Michelle Nichols said Minuteman members “pushed and shoved members of an immigrant rights group that showed up at the event.”
In fact, Gilchrist told WND, it was the radical activist group that launched an assault while he was answering questions from the media. The group of about 125 broke through a police barrier across the street and pushed and shoved members of Gilchrist’s entourage, including his wife, before police intervened.
A handful of New York City police officers, trying to protect Gilchrist and his colleagues, quickly whisked them away in cabs.
Corsi called the Reuters report a “distortion,” insisting that if there was any pushing and shoving by Minuteman members, it was done in an attempt to avoid getting knocked down by the protesters flooding in from across the street.
“There was a little bit of screaming,” Corsi said by telephone on his way to from New York City to Washington. “Once we were out of the area everything diffused right away.”
The Reuters reporter could not be reached for comment.
Gilchrist, also on his way to the nation’s capital, said that prior to the event he came across an e-mail from a coalition of groups that planned to protest his appearance Wednesday.
One of the e-mail’s authors is Teresa Gutierrez of the New York City-based May 1st Coalition, who also is co-director of the radical anti-war group A.N.S.W.E.R. and was a candidate for president in 2004 representing the socialist Workers World Party.
Messages on the protesters’ signs Wednesday included, “Racist MinuteKlan out of NYC.”
Gilchrist said the attack Wednesday literally took the microphone out of his hands, stifling his First Amendment free-speech rights.
“I’m getting so tired of it,” he said. “I’m ready to go to Congress to insist they pass legislation to stop the intimidation of the First Amendment.”
While protesters have a right to assemble, he argued, they don’t have a right to “call out their hostile forces to attack Minutemen.”
“I thought I couldn’t be attacked without criminal liability,” he said. “I’m going to see my congressman. If there’s no legislation [under which] Gutierrez can be prosecuted, I will spearhead legislation myself.”