Two groups clash over immigration in downtown Seattle
About 75 demonstrators marched against illegal immigration and a perceived threat to U.S. sovereignty through downtown Seattle on Saturday...
Seattle Times staff reporter
About 75 demonstrators marched against illegal immigration and a perceived threat to U.S. sovereignty through downtown Seattle on Saturday.
A slightly smaller but raucous pro-immigrant demonstration shadowed the march on Second Avenue.
The confrontation grew briefly ugly when marchers assembled for speeches outside the Federal Building. A group of fewer than 10 black-clad, masked counterprotesters marshaled behind wooden shields, threw water bombs and tried to cross the street to the main rally.
Seattle police used pepper spray to force the group back. One person was arrested afterward.
Leaders of the initial protest, including representatives of the John Birch Society and the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, claim the Bush administration intends to subordinate the U.S. government to an international body that would govern all of North America, including Canada and Mexico.
The demonstration, which had a city permit, was timed to protest the Monday summit meeting in Canada of President Bush with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Felipe Calderón.
On the agenda is economic and security cooperation. But Saturday's marchers see something more sinister and secret.
Billed as March for America Washington, the protest was organized by 30-year-old Jonnie Crivello, who said she works in high-tech in Seattle.
Crivello said a "world global elite" is attempting to create a "one-world government." A "North American Union" that would effectively merge the U.S., Canada and Mexico is a first step, she said.
Crivello led an eclectic crowd.
Becky Lemon, 33, was part of a contingent from Yakima concerned about illegal immigration. Marching beside her, also wearing an anti-illegal-immigrant T-shirt, was her son, Matthew Campos, 13.
What does her U.S.-born, Mexican-American husband, a police officer in Yakima, think of her protest? "I don't talk to him about it," Lemon said
Ironically, the countermarch included radical groups as opposed to globalization as were the leaders of the main protest.
"There are real problems with free trade," said Allan Paulson, president of the Washington Fair Trade Coalition, "but let's not blame immigrants."
Ted Moree, 22, of Seattle, infiltrated the main march carrying a black anarchist flag and wearing a big smile as marchers tried to stop him from talking.
"I don't believe in borders. No one is illegal," Moree said.
He noted the irony that marchers on both sides oppose the idea of a North American free-trade union.
"We came to the same conclusions for radically different reasons," Moree said. "I'm afraid of CEOs exploiting workers everywhere and pitting them against each other."
The masked protesters were less congenial than Moree.
"A group hiding their faces and hiding behind shields confronted my officers," said Seattle police Lt. Jim Fitzgerald. "That's definitely a threatening gesture."
One masked youth who had just been sprayed identified himself as Michael B. and said he was from Portland. After the brief melee, his group headed up to Third Avenue carrying their shields, tailed by a posse of police on bikes.
Dominic Gates: 206-464-2963 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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