As Minutemen Start Border Patrols in New Mexico, ACLU Screens Documentary on Vigilante Group

Affiliate: ACLU of New Mexico
October 1, 2005 12:00 am

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ACLU of New Mexico
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ALBUQUERQUE – As the vigilante “Minuteman Project” prepares to hunt for undocumented immigrants along the U.S.-New Mexico border this month, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico today screened a new film documenting the efforts of border communities to stand up to the group.

The film, “Undocumented: The Other Side of the Minuteman Project,” contains detailed footage from patrols last April in Arizona, in which the ACLU of Arizona and the American Friends Service Committee of Arizona joined forces to train legal observers to monitor the Minuteman Project. Legal observing is currently under way in California and will begin this month in New Mexico and Texas.

“Nothing good can come from people taking the law into their own hands,” said ACLU of New Mexico Executive Director Peter Simonson. “The situation only gets worse when they start carrying firearms and when their motivations are based on racial difference. By passively monitoring the vigilantes, we hope to dissuade them from falsely arresting people who, because of their skin color, are assumed to be undocumented immigrants. The documentary illustrates the successes and experiences of such a project in Arizona.”

The ACLU of New Mexico is training teams of volunteer legal observers to follow, photograph, and videotape the Minutemen, and gather evidence for possible civil rights lawsuits. Trainings are taking place in El Paso and Las Cruces.

Ray Ybarra, an Ira Glasser Racial Justice Fellow with the national ACLU, has been organizing concerned citizens to keep an eye on vigilante groups that are forming on New Mexico’s southern border. Last spring, Ybarra organized 130 volunteers to keep an eye on the Minutemen in Arizona. Observers are instructed not to talk with or otherwise engage the Minutemen, in order to avoid confrontations.

“My hope is that like slavery and racial segregation, future generations will look back upon the Minuteman Project, and this period on the border as whole, with outrage and with disbelief,” said Ybarra.

The Minutemen will begin patrolling this Saturday and the ACLU will be out observing their activities. For more information, go to:

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