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Border Militia Divides Arizona Residents

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20050406/us_nm/arizona_security_dc_2 Border Militia Divides Arizona Residents 2 hours, 43 minutes ago By Tim Gaynor
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 6, 2005

      Border Militia Divides Arizona Residents

      2 hours, 43 minutes ago

      By Tim Gaynor

      BISBEE, Arizona (Reuters) - A right-wing militia
      patrolling the Mexican border to catch illegal
      immigrants is pitting some residents in favor of
      old-style frontier justice against critics who say the
      militiamen are the real threat.

      Between 300 and 400 "Minuteman" project volunteers,
      some of them armed, have come to Arizona to stake out
      a 23-mile section of the border throughout April.

      They say it is a peaceful political protest, although
      some are armed with pistols, and a number of local
      residents have joined the patrols or turned out to
      support them.

      Others, however, have held protests and watch with
      suspicion the volunteers' arrival in camper vans and
      four-wheel drive vehicles, some decked out with gun

      In the old copper mining town of Bisbee, which
      reinvented itself as a refuge for writers and painters
      after the mine closed in the 1970s, many eye the
      vigilantes with suspicion.

      "I had a Salvadoran work for me for six months, and
      it's not uncommon for people here to drive a migrant
      north in their car rather than hand them over to the
      U.S. Border Patrol," said cafe owner Charles Lewis.

      Lewis and some other residents in this town in the
      Mule Mountains just north of the border say they fear
      the Minuteman volunteers much more than the migrants
      who trek across ranches and public land on the way

      "I'd rather take my chances with the Mexicans than one
      of these U.S. military type idiots taking part in the
      patrols," local truck driver John Porter told Reuters,
      as he took the sun on a sidewalk table outside the
      Daily Diner.

      "Migrants pay their taxes and I don't have a problem
      with them," he added.


      However, a few miles up the road in Tombstone, where
      the Minutemen volunteers come to register for the
      patrols at a local newspaper, gunslingers have been a
      part of tradition since Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday
      gunned down the Clantons and McLaurys in a legendary
      gunfight at the OK Corral.

      The sight of volunteers from across the United States
      treading the sidewalks with pistols riding on their
      hip, raises no eyebrows in the one-time silver mining

      "We have 500 people a day with guns on their hips, so
      for us it's nothing unusual," Tombstone Mayor Andrew
      Dejournett told Reuters.

      "The Minuteman fall within that long American
      tradition that includes freedom of speech and the
      right to bear arms, and I don't have a problem with
      that," he added.

      Standing tall in a Stetson hat in the main street
      outside the OK Corral site, Arcangelo Coco says he
      applauds the group of volunteers who have come into
      the area with their brand of frontier justice.

      "I support the Minutemen, and if I see them I'll shake
      their hand," Coco said, adding that they are not
      "gunslingers" but are just "out to defend themselves."

      Others in the town, which hosts re-enactments of the
      famous gun fight each day at two o'clock sharp on the
      site of the long vanished corral, feel at ease with
      the Minuteman goal of sealing the U.S. border to
      illegal migrants from Mexico.

      "I think they'll help, as there are so many people
      coming over who shouldn't be here," said retiree
      Vinnie Boxx, as he munched on popcorn in a gift shop
      selling cowboy souvenirs. "Something needs to be done
      about the border as it's wide open."
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