Note: This post will be completely lame, as I am experiencing an “Upload error” with my smart phone and have been unable to locate the data connector to hook it up to the computer. So I haven’t been able to upload the many excellent photos I got on-site at the Murrieta protest today.*
The bottom line up-front: another group of illegals was indeed diverted from Murrieta today. The news coverage is starting to run video from different days together, and TV watchers were being given the impression on Fox a couple of hours ago that the scene was chaotic today, with lots of protesters (especially on the pro-illegal, counter-protest side). That wasn’t the case when the outcome of the bus trip was still up in the air. Nor was it late in the day when the plane arrived in San Diego, and the buses were subsequently turned around and sent to San Ysidro again. That all happened before 2:00 PM Pacific.
The information from people at the site, who were receiving updates from contacts, was that the busloads of illegals from San Diego stopped first at the Border Patrol station in Temecula, CA. Temecula is directly adjacent to Murrieta, although Temecula is bigger, and its Border Patrol station is as well. The word was that the buses turned around from Temecula and headed back south, where San Diego news sources confirm the buses went to the San Ysidro Border Patrol station. (I assume the buses left San Ysidro later, as they have the last two times, and the illegals were eventually deposited somewhere else. San Ysidro is right on the border and is an extremely busy checkpoint station.)
At the site, the Murrieta police had created two sides with a safe zone in between by using police tape. The set-up was right in the street (Madison), which is a two-lane rural road with no curbs in that stretch. The street is closed to traffic during the major protest hours when a delivery of illegals is expected. The police tent was set up just outside the entrance to the BP station. I came in from the north side, walking about an eighth of a mile from the Wal-Mart nearby, where a lot of protesters have been parking and picking up water and snacks.
The lively confrontations between protesters (summarized here) occurred later in the day, in the 4:00 hour, after the fate of the buses was already known. It looks to me like the pro-illegal protesters were in Los Angeles in the morning, and some of them moved to Murrieta by the afternoon. They are definitely the well-organized, non-grass-roots demonstrators in this mix.
When I arrived at the protest site, right around 11:00 AM, there were about 150 protesters on the pro-secure borders, pro-law-and-order side. There were fewer than 10 on the counter-protest side. The protesters were set up at the intersection just north of the BP station (Madison and Guava) as well as on their side along the street to the south.
The mood was cheerful and unhurried. A man with a bullhorn spoke on behalf of law and order, secure borders, legal immigration, etc every few minutes. I didn’t get a chance to talk to him. The media were all over the place. I noticed the CNN reporter interviewing every one of the counter-protesters on camera. CNN may depict the counter-protesters (the pro-illegals) as having been there in force throughout the day, but they weren’t. It was when they arrived later in the afternoon that things began to get contentious.
I did see the La Raza junior birdman guys in their uniforms and bandana face masks. They were six of the eight or so who were present on the other side of the yellow tape for most of the time I was there. I got photos of my own, but since you can’t wait for those, I append one that’s been going viral on the web today.
There were no riot police. That doesn’t mean there never will be, but there weren’t any today. The Murrieta police were the ones standing by to keep order on the street. The California Highway Patrol had vehicles stationed down at the intersection north of the BP station. It probably had them at the south intersection (Madison and Fig) as well, but I didn’t go down there. There was a watch tower on a collapsible platform, which was raised and lowered twice while I was there. There was a Border Patrol helicopter making multiple passes over the area when I first arrived, but it left within about half an hour. I concluded that it was surveying the scene as part of the decision-making process for the buses en route from San Diego.
I walked to the site from the Wal-Mart in company with a guy who was also there to demonstrate for the first time. He had been at the Bundy ranch a couple of times during the standoff there. The Bundy supporters could carry in Nevada, but of course, that’s against the law in California. I think the action in Murrieta seemed a little tame to him, compared to the Bundy standoff.
All but two of the protesters I talked to were from the local area: the towns of Murrieta, Temecula, Menifee, Redlands, Apple Valley, and Yucaipa. Most were from Murrieta. There were people of every race and age, including an Iranian-American immigrant, a lady who wore a head scarf printed with the American flag. There were a couple of Birthers and preppers in the crowd, as far as I could tell, but only a couple. There were a lot of veterans, as you would expect, and a group of new Marine recruits from the area who are waiting this summer to report to boot camp. (Photo below.)
Once it was confirmed that the buses weren’t coming, the police removed their tape barriers and opened the street to traffic again. I stayed for a while after that to chat with the protesters. Up at the north intersection, we sang the national anthem and “God Bless America,” and got lots of honks and cheers from passing cars as the traffic resumed.
There’s no way of knowing if this is the calm before the storm, or if nothing much will happen each time a bus run is attempted, and the buses will simply be turned away until someone gets tired of it.
But it does appear that a small group of determined citizens has held off the buses three times now. The important thing will be keeping media interest up. It actually works to the advantage of the secure-borders side when the pro-illegals side comes and keeps the media on-site. The feds would be more likely to deploy heavy-handed police against the protesters, and try to force another confrontation with buses, if there were no media watching.
* And yes, I can go to Radio Shack. But it’s too darn late for that tonight.