Grand Rapids Anti-Immigration Organizer Involved with Minutemen

Grand Rapids resident and anti-immigrant organizer Ione Johnson is a member of the Minutemen–a vigilante border patrol militia–according to reporting Tuesday in the local corporate media. Johnson was been widely quoted in the media making anti-immigrant statements and her involvement with the Minutemen show that along with FAIR and the Michigan Council of Conservative Citizens–racist groups are behind much of the anti-immigration organizing.

On May 6, a protest held in downtown Grand Rapids against “illegal immigration” garnered attention on two broadcast media channels and in the Grand Rapids Press, who portrayed the protest as a grassroots response by “ordinary” citizens to organizing for immigrant rights in the area. The protest was met by a counter-protest from anti-racists, who quickly discovered that the protest was attended by a variety of far right and racist groups including the Michigan chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens (a white supremacist organization) and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

On Tuesday, a story of WOOD TV 8 revealed that one of the protest organizers—Grand Rapids resident Ione Johnson—is a card-carrying member of the Minutemen, an armed right-wing vigilante group that claims to be protecting the United States from an “invasion” of immigrants. In the article, Johnson was quoted saying that she thinks it “rounding up the illegals ‘would be the best idea’” and that “we [the United States] have to secure the border. You just see droves coming over.” Johnson summed up her position by stating that “to me the illegals have no intention to assimilate into our culture or society.” The Minutemen have been increasingly active in the Southwest region of the United States and has, since Spring of 2005, stated that it is organizing in Michigan to prevent illegal immigrants from crossing the Canada-United States border. The project, which is called the Michigan/Ontario Minutemen Border Neighborhood Watch program has not been visibly active, despite the leadership and support of Kevin Fobbs who is an Outreach Vice Chair for the Michigan Republican Party. Fobbs also recently testified in support of Michigan’s English-only measure.

Chris Simcox, President of the Minutemen, has described undocumented immigrants as “trashing their neighborhoods, refusing to assimilate, standing on street corners, jeering at little girls walking on their way to school” and warned immigrants that to “t ake heed of our weapons because we’re going to defend our borders by any means necessary.” It is also worth noting that the Minutemen have ties to neo-nazi groups (two) and that there is concern that the organized anti-immigrant movement is becoming increasingly violent with several different armed vigilante groups operating in the United States.

Author: mediamouse

Grand Rapids independent media // mediamouse.org