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Menaced by the Minutemen

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  • Steven L. Robinson
    Menaced by the Minutemen By Michele Bollinger | Socialist Worker OnLine - US May 11, 2007 | Page 9 A REPORTED member of the Herndon, Va., chapter of the
    Message 1 of 1 , May 9 9:59 PM
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      Menaced by the Minutemen

      By Michele Bollinger |
      Socialist Worker OnLine - US
      May 11, 2007 | Page 9

      A REPORTED member of the Herndon, Va., chapter of the anti-immigrant
      Minutemen, was arrested and charged with assault at the May 1 march for
      immigrant rights in Washington, D.C.--and was soon discovered to be armed to
      the teeth, with plans to possibly attack immigrants and activists that very

      Tyler Froatz was arrested for assaulting one of the march's female
      organizers. Police then found weapons in his bag and car. Froatz had brought
      to the march a 100,000-volt Taser gun, knives, a claw hammer, a flare gun, a
      loaded .30 caliber rifle, and a map with details of the park, including
      sight lines for firing a weapon.

      The next day, even more weapons were found in Froatz's apartment--including
      more than two dozen guns, thousands of rounds of ammunition, a Molotov
      cocktail and a grenade launcher. When it was discovered that Froatz was a
      member of the Minutemen--identified as such in a May 3 article in the
      Washington Times--the chilling pieces began to fall into place.

      Organizers of the demonstration confronted Froatz after his first attempts
      to interfere with the protest. He began by verbally abusing participants and
      telling Latinos to "go back to [their] home country."

      Froatz kept posting barbaric flyers that seemed to be straight out of a
      Minutemen handbook--including one that read "the only way to stop a
      flood...is to cut off the flow," with a drawing of U.S. soldiers mowing down
      immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, including an image of a pregnant
      woman being shot.

      Froatz tried to provoke a physical confrontation with demonstration
      organizers. But the organizers--unaware of the arsenal Froatz
      possessed--argued back at him, making it clear that he was not welcome, and
      called the Park Police to enforce the demonstration's permit. Froatz was
      taken into custody.

      "If we hadn't confronted him in the way that we did, this man could very
      easily be free, and a serious tragedy could have unfolded on May 1," said
      David Thurston, a march organizer and activist in the D.C. Committee for
      Immigrant Rights.

      Instead, however, over 1,000 people marched for immigrant rights, demanding
      an end to raids and deportations, legalization for all, and that Washington
      become a sanctuary city.

      - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

      SINCE FROATZ is white and not Arab or Muslim, this case has not generated
      nearly the national media attention it warrants. Yet his is a textbook case
      of homegrown domestic terrorism--an all-too-real threat in the context of
      the brutal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids around the
      country, and the racist violence of vigilante groups like Froatz's
      Minutemen. Not surprisingly, the Virginia Minutemen are denying any
      association with Froatz. But the Minutemen have always tried to divert
      attention from the true nature of their politics and activities, presenting
      themselves as a "legitimate" organization.

      Thus, George Taplin, president of the Herndon Minutemen, told one TV news
      reporter, "We do not practice any kind of confrontational activity
      whatsoever." But there are countless examples to the contrary--from the
      Minutemen's hate speech to their vigilante "border patrols" where they
      attack immigrants.

      The Herndon Minutemen have been central to getting anti-immigrant
      legislation passed in Virginia, and to whipping up hatred toward day
      laborers in particular.

      Froatz's connections to the group should be investigated and publicized--so
      that the public can be aware of the dangers that right-wing hate groups
      present. The extent to which his inclination for racist violence was
      nurtured or supported by local Minutemen should be found out.

      Froatz may be just one individual, but D.C. area activists shouldn't
      underestimate the threat of the far right. Recently, an arsonist attacked a
      day laborers' center run by the immigrant rights group CASA of Maryland in
      the town of Derwood.

      While the far right must be confronted, we must also challenge the daily
      attacks on immigrants in this country from so-called "legitimate"
      forces--from ICE raids to the regular denunciation of "illegals" on Lou
      Dobbs' television program--that give confidence to fanatics like Froatz.


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