Mexican Independence Day parade becomes immigration protest
News 8 Austin | September 17, 2005
Temperatures and tempers flared at a parade in downtown Austin on Saturday afternoon.
The Mexican Independence Day parade is an annual event sponsored by Texas United Latino Artists.
But this year, protestors made the parade less about independence and more about immigration. Hundreds showed up to march.
Some groups also protested the Minuteman Project, a civilian organization whose members patrol the United States' border and report illegal immigration to authorities.
"You see, it's a free country. We have the right to say what feel and what we think, but there is a step were it goes beyond saying what we feel and taking guns in our hands and going to the border and intimidating people. That's what we're saying. We will not allow this," Julieta Garibay, who opposes the Minutemen, said.
About 50 people who called themselves Texans for Freedom countered the protest and voiced their support for the Minutemen.
"The Minutemen are doing what our government refuses to do, what they've not been allowed to do. We need to close the borders. If there's a war on terrorism, why are our borders open? If our government is not going to close the borders, that leaves it up to us - the civilians - to do what our government refuses to do," Minuteman supporter Steve Skidmore said.
Department of Public Safety troopers had to separate shouting matches between the two groups, but no arrests were reported.
U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, was also a part of the parade down Congress to the Capitol. He avoided the Texans for Freedom crowd, but later compared the Minutemen’s efforts to the KKK at the rally.
"Some say these Minutemen are new to Texas. That's not really true. It's just that years ago they used to wear white sheets," he said.
Doggett also said U.S. border patrol officers are capable of securing the borders of the country, and amateur vigilantes who ignore civil rights only hamper law enforcement efforts.