Immediately, The Minuteman Project became a primary target of Morris Dee and his so called "Southern Poverty Law Center." Every effort was made to portray the members of the group in negative connotations, and to intimidate members so they would withdraw from active participation.
When Gilchrist attempted to speak at different venues to which he had been invited, crowds of "students" armed with soda cans full of marbles attacked the vehicles of his party. This occurred on a number of occasions and the turmoil resulted in fewer invitations to speak. Individuals in opposition to the movement would mob Gilchrist's vehicle, fall down in front of it when the police attempted to clear a path, have themselves taken to the hospital and then try to press charges for "assault."
Despite all this, and one particularly unpleasant incident at Columbia University at which the protesters prevented Gilchrist and a black speaker from taking the podium, chanting racial epithets and mobbing the stage, actual deployment of the observation teams progressed.
Gilchrist received vocal support from Arnold Schwarzenegger, then Governor of California, and from other conservative groups and politicians. His primary source of support, however, remained common citizens from all walks of life and every strata of society.
The size of the observation teams varied, depending on time and location. Initially, the people going out received a number of training sessions to insure that everyone understood the rationale and methodology of the group. After completion of the training sessions, a designated section of the border was then "spotted' by the volunteers. American flags were displayed prominently, as there was no desire for an inadvertent "meeting engagement" between the observation teams and human traffickers or drug runners. Although most observers were unarmed, many of the law enforcement personnel who participated on their own time, and many of the veterans who supported the movement, were armed on an open carry basis.
While radio communications with local Border Patrol units were maintained, and observers did report incidents of illegal border crossing, there was never any real belief that the deployment of volunteer teams would have a practical impact on illegal border crossings. Rather, the primary impetus for the movement remained drawing public attention to the flood of illegals coming across the porous Southern border of the United States.
However, the Minuteman activities in 2006 were instrumental in bringing to a halt a joint program between the Mexican government and a U.S. based organization called "Humane Borders." Operating in conjunction with one another, the Mexican government provided maps to would be illegal immigrants, which showed routes into the country, water stations, rescue towers and other useful sites. For their part, the members of "Humane Borders" manned these installations in order to aid and abet illegal immigration into the U.S. After the Minutemen observation groups drew attention to these activities, the Mexican government withdrew from their association with "Humane Borders."
The Minuteman project began to suffer growing pains. An independent group using the Minuteman name produced fake videos purporting to show Minuteman members shooting down illegal immigrants. At first the main stream media gave much air time to these videos, until it was shown that they were faked. A splinter group called "The Mountain Minutemen" produced the videos because they were "bored" and because they felt widespread dissemination of the apparent killings might deter would be illegals.
By 2010 the Minuteman Project had splintered, Gilchrist had been overthrown as leader of the movement by a board of directors, and was busily suing the board to force his return. The movement was no longer hot news, donations and volunteers became scarce, and interest faded. They may still exist but I haven't had any contact with the organization for more than two years.
That's the thumb nail sketch, and it's provided as background to the story that follows.
|My brother, T|
I almost never involve myself in organizations today. But during the late 1980's, up through the mid 1990's, I felt differently . I did affiliate with a number of what would now be called patriot organizations, usually in some kind of logistics aspect. I edited and produced newsletters in some cases, helped with other aspects of administration in others. I met some very interesting people, all across the conservative political spectrum.
My brother T, on the other hand, was a foot soldier in conservative organizations. He was a former Marine officer , serving as a police office in California at the time the Minutemen kicked off. T was never one for paper pushing. He loaded up and did stints with observation teams down on the border.
He had several friends who were police officers in Arizona, Nevada and California. Ordinarily he would fly into an airfield near the section of the border he was going to be working on, be picked up by one of these individuals, and then a group of them would go down to the area where they were expected.
The obligatory training session took place before the teams went out on the border. Although many of the participants were going out on multiple trips, there were also people who were doing their first stint, so all had to attend. You can see, looking at this picture, that you have people from different ethnic groups, genders and backgrounds. This gives the lie to allegations that the Minuteman were "white supremacists", as they were frequently labeled by the press and left wing special interest groups. My brother is the first man on the right in this picture.
American flags prominently displayed along the portions of the border the teams patrolled served two purposes. They emphasized the patriotic basis of the movement, and they were also intended to prevent accidental run in's with drug traffickers or the "coyotes" moving humans across the border that might lead to violence.
Like the original Minutemen, all equipment was provided by the individuals who participated. The costs of food, lodging, transportation and any other expenses were born by the participants themselves, from their own pockets.
There was not supposed to be any interaction between participants and illegals. The most proactive aspect of the observation teams was reporting illegals to the Border Patrol. However, the Border Patrol was vehemently opposed to the presence of Minutemen observation teams on their "turf" in most instances, and there was almost no positive contact between the Minuteman project team members and members of the U.S. Border Patrol.
He's lived an active life. When he finally checks out, he'll have quite a list of adventures behind him.