One aspect of vigilante movements like the Minutemen that is both a problem and an advantage is that they attract antisocial characters with paranoid and violent tendencies. This is an advantage because their personality traits lend to highly unstable organizations and a lack of general organization; the problems, on the other hand, are obvious in that they enable, encourage, and empower individuals who act out in ways that are highly destructive for the rest of us.
So in the past week in the San Diego area, we've seen two separate cases of this emanating from the Minutemen. First there was the Minuteman who got violent who got violent with some day laborers:
- A member of the Minuteman Project faces nine misdemeanor counts, including battery and interfering with the civil rights of two day laborers, one of whom he allegedly punched, City Attorney Michael Aguirre announced Monday.
The charges against John Matthew Monti, 36, stem from an incident last Nov. 18 in Rancho Penasquitos where day laborers often gather to find jobs, Aguirre said.
Monti is scheduled to appear in court April 13 on four counts each of battery and interference with civil rights and one count of filing a false crime report to a peace officer.
According to the complaint, Monti, a member of the private Minuteman group that monitors the flow of illegal immigrants across the border, began taking photographs of the workers while calling them "Mexicano Cochinos," or dirty Mexicans.
He allegedly began punching one of the victims, Estanislao Gonzales, who tried to walk away because the defendant was sticking his camera in the man's face, according to the complaint.
When Roberto Pena tried to help Gonzales, who is described in court papers as being disabled, Monti, too, assaulted him, prosecutors allege.
Immediately afterward, Monti contacted police, claiming he had been robbed and assaulted by six to eight migrant workers, Aguirre said.
The second case involved previous activities by the Minutemen, which culminated in a civil lawsuit filed against two of them, as described in this North County Times report:
- An anti-illegal immigration activist from Fallbrook and an Oceanside man who founded the San Diego Minutemen group have been accused in a new lawsuit of defaming a woman who worked with organizations that monitored rallies last year at day-labor sites.
Joanne Yoon, 24, identified in the lawsuit as a college student in Los Angeles and a former San Diego resident, is asking for more than $1 million in damages from Jeff Schwilk of Oceanside, the founder of San Diego Minutemen, and activist Ray Carney of Fallbrook.
The San Diego Minutemen are a group of activists against illegal immigration. The group frequently organizes rallies to protest the hiring of day laborers in North County. Carney said he is not a member of the group.
Filed last week in the Superior Court in San Diego, the lawsuit alleges that Schwilk, Carney and others "targeted" Yoon because of her work with the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation and as an independent contractor for the American Civil Liberties Union, which has observed Minuteman rallies.
Yoon's attorney, Daniel Gilleon, said Yoon was "scared and offended" by comments Schwilk and Carney are alleged to have made about her on the Internet and in e-mails, but that was not why she moved to Los Angeles.
What's especially worth noting in this case is that some of the behavior included targeting the victim at her home, a trend we've been seeing increasingly among the more frothing elements of the right:
- Yoon alleges in the lawsuit that Schwilk and Carney exchanged e-mails Sept. 6, 2006, as they tried to determine Yoon's name and address after noticing her monitoring them at rallies held at day-labor sites.
The next day, Schwilk is alleged to have sent a mass e-mail to the San Diego Minutemen in which Yoon was described as an "anorexic ACLU slut," which the lawsuit calls a "per se defamatory statement."
Asked about the e-mail in December, Schwilk told the North County Times that the note was intended for a close circle of people and not for the public. Schwilk also said then that the words were his and that he stood by them.
"She works for the ACLU," Schwilk said then. "She is Korean. She looks anorexic, and she dresses and looks like a slut."
An e-mail from Schwilk that included a copy of the North County Times article was attached to the lawsuit as an exhibit.
The lawsuit also alleges that Carney posted a photo of Yoon and three Latino men on the Web, "referring to her as a 'skank' who 'beds down' on a 'daily basis' with 'those little brown Border Hoppers.' "
Obviously, these guys have what they call "issues." But then, as we know, misogyny and fascism go hand in hand.