Hugs Offered to Hating Hecklers at Murrieta Immigration Rally

by on July 3, 2015 · 2 comments

in California, Civil Rights, Culture, Economy, History, Organizing, Politics

Murrieta mural July_1_15

Editor: The following is an update on the one year commemoration in Murrieta held on July 1. San Diego Free Press editors Doug Porter and Anna Daniels joined those who were bringing light to what happened a year ago to bussed-in immigrants. Doug Porter filed the following report, as part of his daily column at SDFP.

By Doug Porter

The 75 or so people who came to Murrieta, California on July 1st to commemorate resistance to last year’s bus blockade gathered around a stage in the Town Square park under the watchful eyes of a dozen or so police officers. Situated just few yards away behind yellow caution tape, anti-immigration types screamed obscenities and racist insults through multiple bullhorns.

As protest rallies go, there really wasn’t much to see on stage. Banners waved, speakers spoke, people applauded.

Hecklers stole the show, but not in a way they could have ever imagined. What was amazing was watching people who’ve been victimized and traumatized by racism turn the other cheek as a handful of haters did their best to try to provoke violence.

The larger group refused to take the bait. Personally, I was ready to assist if anybody wanted to re-position the bullhorns. Non-violently, of course. I’m sure we could have found some lubricant…

A mobile command post nearby signaled that the authorities were ready for trouble. The organizers of the rally had received death threats in recent days and even some people normally sympathetic to the cause urged them to re-consider staging the event. SDFP editor Anna Daniels accompanied me to Murrieta yesterday; it was clear from talking to people at the rally that they would not allow themselves to be intimidated.


This hardscrabble berg of pre-fab concrete buildings and over-powered pickup trucks isn’t exactly known for its hospitality to immigrants and their sympathizers. If you had to pick a word to describe the mood of the town, “sullen” would be my choice.

Last year Murrieta was the locale of an angry mob, gathered to block buses carrying Central American refugees to a local Border Patrol station for processing. These nativist types assembled thanks to the cooperation of certain public officials and coordination with elements of the Border Patrol officer’s union.

Eyewitnesses said the local police actually did the dirty work of turning away the refugee buses, but only after allowing the women and children inside to get a good look at the hateful reception waiting them.

After images and social media commentary went viral in July, 2014, local officials distanced themselves from the events of the day. The mayor–who’d publicly sympathized with anti-immigrant sentiments–called the “bus blockade” a black eye on the city’s reputation.

Attending this year’s rally were immigration activists, representatives from several Democratic political clubs, clergy and a contingent of young people wearing tee shirts proclaiming their undocumented status.

Much of what was said from the stage was in Spanish, which seemed to enrage the hecklers even more. The people on the stage talked about how proud they were to live in a country like the United States, with organizer Mark Lane even offering free hugs for the haters.

Here are snippets from the Press-Enterprise coverage:

20150701_141418-3Two separate gatherings were held — a pro-Border Patrol rally in the morning and a pro-migrant event in the early afternoon — but some activists against illegal immigration disrupted the afternoon rally by shouting insults, some obscene, during speeches by organizers of that event.

Behind yellow tape, the immigration activists also yelled, “Illegal aliens,” and, “You’re all a bunch of freeloaders…”

…The anti-illegal immigration activists shouted through bullhorns — some shouting obscenities — and held signs condemning illegal immigration. One sign read, “Oppression? Only if you pay taxes for illegals.”

In response, a row of women held signs, reading, “Compassion is the hallmark of America!” and “All humans have the right to live Safely!”

Activists File Suit Against Murrieta

police-lights-1024x768The Los Angeles Times posted a story yesterday afternoon announcing that Pouyan Bokaei, 33, and Salvador Alejandro Chavez, 23 had filed suit against Murrieta and Riverside County alleging unlawful detention and excessive use of force.

Both were arrested during demonstrations last year showing support for immigrants after busloads of women and children refugees from Central America were prevented from going to a Border Patrol processing facility.

In the lawsuit, Bokaei and Chavez say that police had no probable cause to arrest them and that officers used unnecessary force.

Video of the incident filmed by a fellow protester and provided to The Times shows a police officer pushing Bokaei into the dirt and handcuffing his hands behind his back.

Moments later, with Bokaei subdued and lying still, the officer returns and presses his knee forcefully into Bokaei’s upper back. According to the lawsuit, three of Bokaei’s ribs were broken.

The lawsuit also describes rough treatment of Chavez, resulting in a cut on his leg that later became badly infected after Chavez was denied medical treatment while spending the night in jail.

“All together, these young men paid far too high a price for exercising their First Amendment rights,” the lawsuit said.




{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

TOM SUTTLE July 3, 2015 at 11:28 am

“This hardscrabble berg of pre-fab concrete buildings and over-powered pickup trucks…” … Take a thorough drive thru Murrieta, please. This kind of selective description may be appropriate for the industrial section of any city, including Murrieta… but it is a mere fraction of the whole. The intent of – and yes, the bias in – such descriptions is puzzling to anyone who actually knows Murrieta and its people.


Colin July 3, 2015 at 3:26 pm

I wish those anti-immigration types would vote for U.S. politicians who don’t vote for trade and foreign policies that plunder the local economies and governments those immigrants have fled.


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