Monday, June 13, 2005

Minutemen: Not welcome

At least one authority has decided to say no to the Minutemen. Sure, it may just be a Native American tribe -- but it's a start.

According to the Yuma Sun report by Jeffrey Gautreaux, a group of militiamen tried bullying their way onto the Cocopah Indian Reservation, which is bordered by the U.S.-Mexico line, last week and were turned away:
The Yuma Patriots were turned back by the Cocopah Tribal Police as they were trying to begin their patrols Wednesday night. The border watch group said it would be back and planned to call in more help.

The Patriots ran into a blockade of vehicles when they attempted to get onto the Levee Road at County 14th Street at about 6:45 p.m. They were told they were on reservation land and were not allowed. The patrol area was scheduled to be the Levee Road from County 14th Street to County 18th Street.

CTP officers went down the line of Patriots' vehicles and told each one to turn around.

After about 15 minutes of discussion, the Patriots left and drove over to the Levee Road on County 10th Street, off of reservation land. The group stayed there until about 8:30 p.m. and then returned to Yuma.

During the discussions at County 14th Street, the CTP officers simply told the Patriots that "the levee was closed" and that "they had already entered Cocopah Indian Reservation and they should turn around."

There were no threats of arrest made by Cocopah officers. There was discussion that at times came close to heated.

One Patriot repeatedly asked for the probable cause for what CTP was doing. An officer who identified himself only as Sgt. Wessels said, "The levee is shut down. You can deal with the tribal administrator (today) during business hours. I'm not going to debate this with you."

When asked a question by The Sun, Wessels said he had no comment. He said that all questions should go to the tribal administrator today.

Patriots founder Flash Sharrar of Yuma said the Patriots plan to be out patrolling -- on the Cocopah Indian Reservation -- Saturday morning, starting at 4:30 a.m. He also said he planned to call for reinforcements.

"I'm going to call my buddies at the Minuteman Project and let them come down and help us," Sharrar said.

That sounds like a real recipe for ugliness. But keep in mind that these fellows are mostly experts at producing large volumes of hot air.

Sure enough, the Patriots showed up on Saturday, according to the Sun's followup report, and managed to make it appear as though the tribe had backed down and was supporting them:
The Yuma Patriots carried out a planned patrol of the levee near the Cocopah Indian Reservation on Saturday morning without interference from the tribe.

According to Patriots organizer Flash Sharrar, a group of at least 14 volunteers went to the levee at 4:30 a.m. Saturday for about three hours and had no trouble getting onto reservation land.

"(We went) exactly where I told the Border Patrol we would go, between (County) 8 and 12 (streets)," Sharrar said.

During the three-hour period, the Patriots observed a group of five illegal immigrants, four males and one female, and called the U.S. Border Patrol, who arrived at the scene and took the illegals into custody.

"I would like to thank the Cocopah Indian Tribe for the wonderful job they did securing the Cocopah Nation and assisting the Yuma Patriots and the U.S. Border Patrol in securing the other end of the levee," Sharrar said, adding that Cocopah Police patrolled one section of the levee while the Patriots watched another. "They did a fantastic job this morning."

Actually, that's a little bit of Patriot-style spin -- which is to say, it turns reality on its head.

In fact, the tribe did not back down, and remains adamant that the border watchers do their thing on someone else's land.

I contacted the Cocopah tribal administrator on Monday, and he patiently explained that the update was "not entirely factual", adding that the tribe would be issuing its own correction soon.

"What happened is that our land starts at County 12 1/2 and goes to County 18," the administrator said. "They patrolled from County 12 back to County 8."

In other words, if any tribal police were securing the levee, it was against any incursions by the Patriots. And the Patriots may have been patrolling in the area, but it wasn't on tribal land.

The tribe remains opposed to Patriot patrols on their land, and that policy will remain in effect for the foreseeable future, the administrator said.

Of course, the irony of all this no doubt eludes the Patriots: While protesting the border crossings by illegal immigrants into U.S. territory, they're threatening to cross reservation borders, come onto tribal lands unauthorized, without permits, without the proper protocol, and refusing to respect the tribe's decision to exclude their patrols.

But then, grotesque hypocrisy tends to be their strong suit anway.

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