Murrieta, the Town Without Pity, Remembered One Year Later Today – July 1st

by on July 1, 2015 · 9 comments

in California, Civil Rights, Culture, Economy, History, Labor, Media, Organizing, Politics, San Diego

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 Editor: As we repost an excerpt of Doug Porter’s column at SDFP, he and another San Diego Free Press editor, Anna Daniels, are on their way up to Murrieta, “the town without pity”. Stay tuned for an update.

By Doug Porter

Latino and Human Rights activists are returning to Murrieta, California on July 1st to commemorate the anniversary of a historic confrontation that laid bare the racism in Southern California for the world to see.

It was one year ago self-styled patriots, acting on rumors and innuendo, blockaded busloads of refugee women and children from Central America on their way to a Border Patrol processing center.

The angry anti-immigrant protesters, seen on TV news across the country chanting of “Go home!’ and “We don’t want you!,” were tacitly encouraged by local authorities. (It was the local police who actually stopped the buses)

Dara Lind at described the mood in Murrieta that day:

This is some extremely ugly behavior: protesters are yelling “Go home!” at a bus full of children, and physically preventing detainees from going to the place they’re supposed to go and forcing the government to send them somewhere else.

Frankly, it’s a kind of personal, in-your-face nativism that wasn’t actually seen during the most recent debate over immigration reform in Congress. And it’s not that these residents are misinformed about who was coming on those buses: at a town hall last night, the mayor told residents, “What we’ve been told is that most of these immigrants are families. These are mothers and young children, or fathers and young children.” That didn’t mollify residents last night, and it didn’t stop protesters from coming out today.

Here’s what it was like for a reporter of color on the scene:

Today most Americans probably only know of Murrieta as a symbol of hate. Not so well remembered are the people from throughout the region who came to oppose those screaming “go back to Mexico.” Those Latino and human rights activists believed in the right of the migrant detainees to have due process.

On Wednesday from 1-4pm prominent immigrant rights and humanitarian activists wimurrieta poster 2ll speak at a rally in the Town Square Park. (More Information) Organizers say they want to commemorate the compassion and unity in support of the asylum seekers which blossomed as a result of what they viewed as cruel and hateful protests.

This event comes at a volatile, yet altogether appropriate moment in the immigration debate, as presidential candidate Donald Trump is under fire for his anti-Mexican rhetoric.

“What transpired last year, the fear and the hate witnessed in the world theater during that unfortunate moment when children, refugee children, were targeted has now been underscored by Donald Trump’s hate-speech,” co-organizer Mark Lane commented, “Once the shining beacon for those intent on bettering their lives and ‘yearning to breathe free’, it is the duty of each American to remind the world that we are still humanitarians, still that shining beacon and we are a nation intent on equity and equality for all.”

Referring to last year’s protests, Lane continued, “That blockade changed my life. I took in a family from Guatemala. I got involved in speaking out for due process and asylum rights. I received death threats and I was thrust into the national news, but I was mostly overwhelmed by the compassion of those who supported these victimized immigrants. I want to see that compassion continue. I want to see the USA as a compassionate nation.”

There will be solidarity rallies hosted around the country and at the border of Tijuana/San Diego at the same time by Dreamer’s Moms groups. Speakers in Murrieta will include:

Padre Alejandro Solalinde Guerra – Human rights champion
Christian Ramirez – Alliance San Diego, Southern Borders Community Coalition
Marco E Lopez-Quezada – Former General Counsel to Cesar Chavez and the UFW
DeeDee Garcia Blase – Chicana Activist, Radio Host (Que Onda Show)
Ruben Salazar – Immigration Attorney
Mark Lane – Human Rights Activist, Radio Host (El Daily Justice)
Father Dermot Rodgers – St. Peter of Rome, human rights advocate, chaplain to the Deported Veterans and Deported Dreamer Moms shelter in Tijuana.
Ivan Ceja – Dreamer, Co-Founder of Undocumedia
Jaime Fernandez – Immigration Reform, Human Rights Activist

Not to be outdone, some of the same hate-mongers who worked the bus blockage last year have organized their own rally.

Lane told me he’s seen messages on Facebook and elsewhere urging “patriots” to show up, burn Mexican flags and “stand up for America against this invasion.”

As Janet Murguia, President of the National Council of La Raza wrote in The Huffington Post about last year’s blockade, “There is nothing more un-American than showing not even one shred of sympathy, compassion, or even decency towards a group of desperate young children who showed up on our doorstep after having spent weeks on a treacherous journey.”


{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

TOM SUTTLE July 1, 2015 at 12:12 pm

Anyone who would judge a community of 200,000 people based on the actions of a handful (including some outsiders) is exercising a form of bigotry.


rick callejon July 1, 2015 at 1:57 pm

Hundreds of protesters is not “a handful”. Murrieta’s city manager said that the protests were a “black eye” for the city. Freedom of speech does not give anyone the right to spit on another. Such hateful behavior is rooted in racism and xenophobia.
As Raul A. Reyes wrote, “The Murrieta protests were a shameful, sickening display of anti-immigrant sentiment. Such vigilante behavior and vitriol are out of sync with American values, and have no place in a civil society.”


Goatskull July 2, 2015 at 7:55 am

Hundreds does not always mean most in a town of thousands. Plus I’m sure many of these knuckleheads came from other areas and not all are Murrieta residents.


Goatskull July 2, 2015 at 7:58 am

I don’t live there but I have stopped through there a couple times and I would have never guessed something like this would have happened there. Maybe it is that bad but that would surprise me based on the limited time I’ve spent there.


TOM SUTTLE July 1, 2015 at 3:59 pm

Hi Rick… Thank you for your comments. Actually, I lived close enough to the sad site to see the news copters circling almost overhead. I know lots of people locally, and none of the folks I know saw anyone familiar to us on the tube. We did hear there were some local people there who we did not know (that’s out of two hundred thousand locals who mostly went about their jobs and chores peacefully usual), but from everything we’ve learned since that was just a few among many from all around so cal, many we later heard had come streaming in from as far as a hundred miles away, and some had driven further I guess to have their 15 minutes of infamy. And a black eye for sure, but that’s basically what happens to any group of people when the news folks and social media users start a campaign of bigoted hashtags and comments about any given community or ethnic group. It’s pretty much the same as if someone were robbed by someone who happened to live in your part of town, and everyone started a #rickshateneighborhood campaign. It might leave you and 99% of the good people around you feeling a bit violated. Anyway, we can handle it, because we know the truth. Thanks for reading.


Anna Daniels July 2, 2015 at 10:50 am

Tom, while local people like yourself may not have seen familiar faces in the coverage last year, it is misleading to paint the outside anti-immigrant groups that “streamed in from as far as a hundred miles away” as provocateurs with no direct link to locals.
The Anti-Defamation League provided an analysis “Longtime Anti-Immigrant Activists behind Murrieta Protests. ”
Anti-Immigrant organizations such as We the People Rising and San Diegans for Secure Borders Coalition acted in concert with the Temecula Tea Party group. Patrice Lynes from Temecula organized the protests and she is no stranger to the area even if she is not from Murietta.
The Temecula Tea Party facebook page yesterday July 1 included a message from Lynes about yesterday’s rally in Murrieta. “Alert : Murrieta City Hall 12 noon Migrant March Today , please bring flag and signs . They are coming from SB, Pomona etc . Be there at 11:20 thank you Patrice”


Doug Porter July 2, 2015 at 11:36 am
TOM SUTTLE July 2, 2015 at 1:53 pm

OB: Thanks for the reply… and your outsider’s insight, which I must agree can sometimes add perspective to those who, in certain circumstances, may be too close to events to see a wider view. I do have to mention, though, that Temecula – however snugged-up to Murrieta it may be in proximity – is in many respect light-years apart from Murrieta. Very different economies and political atmospheres in the two communities. About the only political element the two communities have in common is a gentleman named Chuck Washington, who is unique locally in his having held the position of Mayor (at of course differing times) in both cities. (Side note: Mr. Washington is no longer in either city’s government, having been recently appointed by Gov Brown to fill a vacancy in Riv County’s Board of Supervisors, where he now represents both cities at once, along with some surrounding territory.) I don’t know what point I was trying to make with that info, because Mr. Wahington is not Hispanic (he’s African American) so it’s probably not pertinent. Our current Mayor is Mr. Ramos, who is Hispanic, and I’ll have to admit he does get a lot of heat from some of the other current council members, but whether that has anything to do with race is a question very strongly denied by his opponents on the council. That’s another story, and one you may find interesting. Anyway, yes, I do digress, and I apologize for that. And I dunno what else to say here, except to repeat that everyone I know locally seems to be a bit taken aback by the difference in the community we know, and the one we see portrayed in the news. Your reporting is appreciated.


TOM SUTTLE July 2, 2015 at 1:55 pm

(Last post was to “OB”… should rightfully however have been to Anna Daniels. Thank you.)


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