SOUTHWEST –– Chris Simcox, founder of the racist anti-immigrant Minuteman Civil Defense Corps recently returned to a university in the Southwest. He previously visited the campus in April (see CHALLENGE, May 9), and was shut down by a multi-racial coalition of about 700 students and workers led by friends of PLP members. It was the largest demonstration in campus history.
This semester, the same conservative student group brought Simcox to campus again. Because of the success of the last protest, the police attempted to crack down on any further show of multi-racial protest. This time, instead of five cops, there were 15. The event was held inside an auditorium rather than outside in the “free speech” zone. Also, to get inside the auditorium, you had to show a valid photo ID and write your name on a sign-up sheet. Although it seemed problematic to get in, many students wanted to do some sort of protesting to counteract and hopefully shut down his racist speech.
In order to stop this event, we needed a plan. So, before the protest started at 2:00, we passed out 500 flyers that showed the ties between the Minutemen and white supremacist groups and called for all students and workers to unite to shut Simcox down. A group of about 30 black students were outraged to hear that Simcox was at their campus again. One student said, “I remember him from last semester, isn’t he that racist guy who got booed off stage?” Another stated his anger toward Simcox because he is “no better than the Klan.” They all seemed to be right-on with forcing him to leave their campus.
We then planned for everyone to meet near the entrance of the auditorium early and all but two people were going to go inside to shout Simcox down. When it got to be 2:00, the whole group of black students got out their ID’s and walked together towards the booth where they had to give their information. The doors suddenly closed and the cops denied them access. The cops explained that they were ordered not to let anyone inside the auditorium past 2:00. It was 2:02. The group of students was even more outraged…especially after witnessing the cops granting access to a white person at 2:04! My friend and I talked with them about options to act against the blatant racist actions of the school and police. One student suggested, “We should have an old-fashion sit-in.” My comrade and I explained how silent or peaceful protests would not show the school that we are not going to tolerate them allowing a racist to speak on our campus. So we all picked up posters and started chanting, “Minutemen, Nazis, KKK…Racists, Fascists, Go Away!”
Inside, about 15 anti-racists sat together and when Simcox came out to speak, they all stood up and started chanting for him to go home. After a few minutes, they were forced to leave by the cops. When they walked out of the auditorium, they were greeted by dozens of black students chanting “Hitler rose, Hitler fell, racist Minutemen, Go to Hell!” The police made several attempts to shut us all up by taking away our posters and trying to separate us, but we remained together and stole our posters back. We demonstrated collectively and when the cops tried to tell us that we were not in a “free speech zone” we just chanted louder.
After Simcox left, we were able to speak with all the students who had protested. We got their phone numbers and invited them to a student meeting in which we were going to talk about what happened and relate it to the capitalist system as a whole.
The fact that so many black students showed up to oppose Chris Simcox was an important step in breaking the ideology that claims the Minutemen only affect the Hispanic community. We want to replace this idea with and understanding of how racism against one “race” hurts all workers. Our experience showed us the possibilities of working together in opposition to ruling-class ideology. It solidified for us the reality of needing to attack racism as one class: the working class against the ruling class.