A gigantic organized protest against immigration reform legislation and in favor of immigrant rights took place in Dallas on Sunday. The protest may have drawn up to half a million people to downtown Dallas, according to some estimates.
At 3 p.m. press conference on Sunday, Dallas Chief of Police David Kunkle indicated that he was pleased with the overall behavior of the crowd. He said that the police sought to keep the protestors and a small group of counter-protestors separated. “The marchers responded well to the counter-protestors,” said Kunkle. “I think the crowd could not have behaved better.”
Kunkle said that he had made no arrests and that there were few medical emergencies. While Kunkle said that he did not know the exact size of the crowd, he had heard estimates of 500,000 people and he thought that it may have been the largest crowd that the city has ever had.
When asked by reporters about the cost to the city of the event, Kunkle said that it was somewhere around $400,000.
Signs of radicalism
Legislation recently passed in the House of Representatives, and currently being debated in the U.S. Senate, was the main catalyst that brought out hundreds of thousands of Latinos to protest in large cities across the country in recent weeks. Legislation passed in the House would make it a crime to provide certain aid illegal immigrants.
Many of the signs held and many of the chants made by people in the crowd showed intense disapproval of the immigration reform bill known as HR 4437. “No to HR 4437” was one of the most common signs. Other signs and shirts had “We are not criminals” and “No somos criminales” written on them. “Hencho in Mexico” was also popular.
While many of the people holding signs simply wanted to show their support for immigrant rights, some elements in the crowd echoed more radical messages. A group of young adult males carried a sign that read, “Honkies, why don’t you take your asses back to Europe” and another sign that read, "Hermanos Hispanos Unidos para Siempre”. Another person in the group had a sign with an anti-war message: “Our Latino soldiers are dying out their too.”
Another group of young adults marched through the crowd and chanted “La Raza punida hamas sera vencida” while beating on a set of drums. When asked about the meaning of the rallying cry, one of the men said that it meant “The Race shall not be beaten”.
“La Raza” is a phrase that Latino political groups in the United States have used to create ethnic solidarity in favor of immigrant rights, workers rights, and the Chicano Civil Rights Movement.
Organizers of Sunday’s protest issued a directive last week asking people not to bring Mexican flags to the rally on Sunday. While American flags far outnumbered Mexican flags at the rally, there were a number of Mexican flags being waved.
Following the press conference, DallasBlog asked LULAC President Hector Flores for comment on the Mexican flag waving. Flores said that the flag was a “cultural icon”. Flores added that the people at the rally wanted to be a part of American society, were contributing to the economy, and wanted to be American citizens.
Tens of thousands marched all the way from Cathedral Guadalupe to City Hall Plaza in a largely uneventful protest of proposed immigration reform.
DallasBlog was on the scene, thirsty and seeking a rolling taco vendor.
I’m not sure I saw many if any Anglos or blacks among the marchers. Just a sea of Latinos and Latinas. Which, when you think about it, is to be expected.
There’s going to be a run on laundry bleach tomorrow – haven’t seen this much white cotton since the last time the full French army took to the field of battle.
Most, but not all, of the protesters got the memo about leaving the Mexican flags at home, so Old Glory was all over place. But some of the handmade signs were pretty inflammatory. Seems some folks are still smarting about the Treaty of Guadalupe Hildago. Others were more generic and could have been carried at any number of protests – ¡Si Se Puede! and so forth.
No shortage of Mexican flags in the crowd. Don't let the traditional media tell you any different.
Personal note: Next time there’s a march, hit Costco and stock up on bottled water. I coulda made a killing. And not reported the income. Like, ahem.
“This was our land first – we’re not the illegals,” said Luis, a 25-year-old admitted illegal alien. “We just want what’s ours.”
But most of the marchers were I talked to were a little more tactful.
“People just want to work, so they come here, but they still have pride in being Mexican,” said Rosa Velasquez. “This is where the opportunity is. We want to be good Americans.”
Personal note: Digital cameras are wonderful. If your batteries are charged.
Asked if amnesty for illegals was fair to immigrants from Mexico and other nations who had come to the United States legally, Hector, 42, shrugged. “I’m not worried about them.”
Personal note: If there must be an amnesty, Latinas in their 20s should get top priority. They can make a plain white shirt stylish when they tie it up, and they understand the lost art of how to walk in high heels. ¡Muy caliente! (Stupid camera batteries. Grrr.)
Found a counter protester. Noting a large contingent passing with shirts bearing the Mexican flag, he asked “Why do these people have all this pride in Mexico if they admit Mexico is a sinkhole with no opportunities and a fundamentally corrupt government? If their heart is in Mexico that’s where they should be.”
Personal observation: The biggest benefactor of this whole U.S. flag vs. Mexican flag flap? I checked a few banners that looked freshly unfolded. Yep, “Made in China.”
I never made it all the way to City Hall. Fighting the crowd along Commerce and then Ervay got to be too much. I did however hear some of the music from down at City Hall.
The Drudge Report is featuring on its site a prominent story in the current New Yorker by Seymour Hersh which says that the US is planning for a "possible major air attack" against Iran.The new twist, to a story which has been floating around Washington circles for a couple of months now, is that the US air strike would involve the use of "tactical nuclear weapons."
I was in Washington, D.C., two months ago and was told by a high ranking, retired military officer who had served in the Bush Administration that Vice President Cheney had ordered the Pentagon to draw up plans for a possible, preemptive strike against the nuclear sites in Iran. The same individual told me at the time that top ranking Army and Marine Corps officers were opposed to the idea, fearful of the consequences to our soldiers on the ground in Iraq and worried that such an attack could unleash a major Islamic wave of violence throughout the Middle East. Again, according to this well-placed source, there were strong, internal differences within the Administration over whether to launch an air attack on Iran which had, by his estimates, no more than a 50 percent chance of achieving its objective. The chief proponent of the air strike, he told me, was Vice President Cheney while Secretary of State Rice was said to be opposed to the idea. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld was reported to be undecided on the issue at the time since many of his senior military officers at Defense were adamantly opposed to launching air strikes against Iran.
Shortly after returning to Dallas, the Daily Telegraph ran a major story on this proposed air strike against Iran, confirming much of what I had been told. The new dimension to the story from Hersh is that the nuclear option is now being considered and that a number of high ranking military officers are said to have threatened to resign if the Administration moves forward with its plans. Already, an increasing number of retired military officers have gone public with their criticism of our present strategy of dealing with the threat of militant Islam, particular with respect to the situation in Iraq; and many of these same officers have expressed their reservations about a preemptive air strike against Iran. According to the story in the Telegraph today, England and our other European allies also are opposed to the military option at this time.
Two months ago, when I first heard this proposed scenario laid out to me, my initial reaction was that this was just one of those contingency plans which had very little likelihood of ever advancing beyond the "what if" stage. Now, I am not quite so sure I was right about that. This time, our decisionmakers need to consider "the law of unintended consequences" before taking such a major step.
Up to 500 people surrounded the intersection of the Central Expressway and Walnut Hill this afternoon, chanting things such as “USA! USA!” and “Time to go home”. The protest was organized in response to the “pro-illegal immigration/immigrant” demonstrations held by the Latino community in past weeks and in response to the demonstrations that are scheduled for Monday across the nation.
Groups included in the protests were the Citizens for Immigration Reform, the Texas Minutemen, and the Constitution party. While many of the protestors had conservative leanings, the crowd was politically diverse.
The crowd was largely united in their message, which consisted of themes such as enforcing current immigration laws, securing the borders, and not giving amnesty to illegal aliens.
Jean Towell, the President of the Citizens for Immigration Reform and one of the chief organizers of the protest, said that she favored total enforcement of the laws against illegal immigration and also that she was for legal immigration but against illegal immigration.
“This is just a protest in honor of our country and in protest of illegal immigrants,” said Towell.
“Also, this protest is in response to the disrespect of the American flag,” added Towell. Towell was referring to incidences where “pro-illegal immigration” demonstrators raised the Mexican flag above the American flag or even alongside it.
When asked if she was disappointed with the U.S. Congress on immigration issues, Towell said that the Senate should join with the House and pass the immigration reform legislation, which she supports.
Vern Kilburn, President of North Texas Minutemen, had a similar message about confronting illegal immigration. “I’m a minuteman for starters. The biggest thing that we need to do is secure our borders. We’re for legal immigration, not illegal,” said Kilburn.
Kilburn also said that the Minutemen were becoming more organized on a statewide and on a nationwide level. “We’re working on getting all these groups together to unite. We’re trying to get everybody off the couch,” said Kilburn. As DallasBlog spoke with Kilburn, people in a vehicle passing by flipped off the crowd of protestors.
The Minutemen have been among the most vocal opponents of illegal immigration in the country.
A significant number of people at the protest called for the deportation of the illegal immigrants in the country. David Hall, who is the Director of the Associated Conservatives of Texas, was among them. “Illegals should be arrested and sent home,” said Hall. Hall also mentioned that he was not opposed to legal immigration. “Our Hispanic citizens are a wonderful part of our society and we salute them.”
Hall made reference to the “pro-illegal immigration” demonstrators that planned protests in Dallas for Sunday. “The people there tomorrow will be showing their disrespect for the law,” said Hall.
A number of college students also participated in the protest. “The more I read, the more frustrated I get,” said SMU Junior Brad Julsonnet, who is also the Chairman of the Young Conservatives of Texas at SMU. “This is a way for us to take part in the political process and express our views since our representatives will not.”
One college student that DallasBlog spoke with recently moved to Dallas from Kansas and has been following the pro-illegal immigration demonstrations closely. Joe Youngblood, 25, told DallasBlog that he counter-protested at some of the demonstrations in Dallas in previous weeks. Youngblood said that he was assaulted on more than one occasion. Last Sunday, Youngblood was holding up a sign that said “Illegals are criminals” near city hall when a black GMC sport utility vehicle pulled up to the street corner that he was standing at. The driver got out and said to him “Do you want to see a criminal?” while a passenger in the car told the driver to “kick his ass”.
Two weeks ago, Youngblood was at the corner of Park and the Central Expressway, counter-protesting the demonstrations when people in a car passing by threw a beer can and a baby bottle full of beer at him. According to Youngblood, later that day, a car stopped by him, blocking the U-turn lane. Youngblood said that three young Hispanic males got out of the car and that one of them was wearing a “Burger Street” uniform. One of the men pushed Youngblood and even swung at him but missed because Youngblood dodged the attempted blow. Another called him a racist. Youngblood said that he is not a racist and described himself as being liberal on many issues.
According to an independent taxpayer group, Congress had $29 billion in pork barrel spending in the 2005 budget year. Citizens Against Government Waste released its “Pig Book” this past week, detailing some of the costliest pork-barrel projects in the nation.
A recent article from the Associated Press mentions some of these projects.
According to the CAGW report, Congress spent:
-$1 million for a water-free urinal conservation initiative obtained by Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich)
-$325 million obtained by Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) for the Artic Winter Games
-$482 million obtained by Sen. Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii)
Additionally, there was a plan to build a $223 million bridge that would connect the Alaskan mainland to a community of 50 people on Gravina Island. Due to the public outcry, that project was shelved.
While the nationwide average is about $31 in pork per capita, states with relatively small populations, such as Alaska and Hawaii, ranked high with $490 per capita and $378 per capita respectively. Large states, like Texas and Florida, had low per capita pork numbers compared to smaller states.
According to the AP, the CAGW has a broad definition of what constitutes pork, calling it anything “not specifically requested by President Bush.”
There is some good news on earmarks. The amount of money devoted to earmarks in appropriations bills decreased from $19.8 billion in 2005 to $17 billion in 2006.
That was one of the signs carried at a counter protest Saturday calling for a halt to illegal immigration. A couple of hundred American-flag waving demonstrators stood on corners of North Central Expressway and Walnut Hill Lane in North Dallas between 12:30 and 1:30 p.m. Other signs included: "Deport Now," "No Amnesty," "No Open Borders," "One Flag, One Language, One Nation," and "Protect Our Borders." Citizens for Immigration Reform was one of the sponsoring organizations. According to one protestors, counter-demonstrators will meet at 11 a.m. Sunday in front of the Myerson Symphony Center to march in protest to those who want more rights for illegal immigrants. One redheaded woman from East Texas who was at the Walnut Hill Lane demonstration Saturday said she's not in favor of immigration reform but she wants current laws enforced.
Our resident economist, Carl Pellegrini, provides a very good explanation as to why gasoline prices are approaching the $3 level here in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. As he points out "world crude oil production hit 73.6 barrels a day in October 2004." Eighteen months later, with demand much higher, the supply of crude oil is only .5 million barrels a day more than in 2004. His conclusion: "Rising prices do not immediately increase supply." It takes a while to get oil production flowing again. Meanwhile, the Washington experts tell us that there is next to no inflation? I guess they are not counting energy costs, health care costs, and housing costs.
Thanks to Carl for bringing this information to our readers attention.
Mayor Laura Miller has told DallasBlog time and again that fixing Deep Ellum - both the infrastructure and the crime problem - is a top priority, and she's making sure people know it. Looks like she'll push staff to make capital improvements in the entertainment district a top tier item in the 2006 bond program.