Is it possible this nutty nightingale actually had fun at a nativist hoedown? Specifically one where half the crowd would've loved to tear this toucan a new one?
What can The Bird say? It was a hoot crossing swords with all the anti-illegal immigrant types present at a recent fundraiser for imprisoned Border Patrol agent Ignacio Ramos at New River's Roadrunner Saloon, which reminded this rooster of the Boar's Nest. You know, the drinking spot where Bo and Luke Duke were always hangin' in The Dukes of Hazzard?
For the record, this tenacious tweeter thinks the several hundred bikers and others who attended the event are full of the brown stuff when it comes to the right-wing cause celebre of "Nacho" Ramos and his fellow Border Patrol agent Jose Compean, who were convicted in 2006 of shooting an unarmed marijuana smuggler in the butt as he fled on foot toward the U.S.-Mexico border in West Texas. Wing-nut presidential candidate Tom Tancredo and CNN's Lou Dobbs are always ranting about the case, but the more we read about it, the more the Texas Two look as guilty as Tony Montana in Scarface.
Nativist nimrods cry that Ramos and Compean are "heroes," persecuted for defending the border against illegal alien invaders. They demonize U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton for pursuing charges against the two men, sometimes referring to him as "Johnny Satan." The reality is, Ramos and Compean were damned by their own testimony. They fired 15 rounds at fleeing suspect Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila after he had abandoned his truck full of pot, nailing him once in a buttock. Compean watched him limp as he emerged on the other side of the Rio Grande. But neither agent made a report of the incident, as required, and Compean did his best to destroy the crime scene, removing his handgun's spent shell casings from the area.
Ramos admitted on the witness stand that he did not report the incident. And in a handwritten sworn statement made after he was arrested, Compean confessed he did not report it because "I was afraid I was going to get in trouble." Both tried to justify the shoot, saying they thought they saw something shiny in the suspect's hand. But a jury did not believe them, and neither does this dodo. Aldrete-Davila was not armed, and Ramos and Compean did not act in self-defense. It was a bad shooting, and the charges were deserved, especially considering that both defendants sought to cover the whole thing up.
Still, the popularity of their cause cannot be denied. About 350 people showed for the shindig at the Roadrunner, with parking for the sea of motorcycles and other vehicles spilling over to the opposite side of the road. Do-ragged Harley lovers listened to a lineup of anti-immigrant speakers, from MILF-y firebrand Michelle Dallacroce of Mothers Against Illegal Aliens to William Gheen of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC), whose shtick is raving about the extremist bugbear of a "North American Union" with Mexico and Canada.
The event was hosted by conservative radio MC and former San Diego Mayor Roger Hedgecock. Shredded mystery meat sloppy joes were served, and cover band Resonation cranked out versions of such tunes as the Violent Femmes' "Blister in the Sun," which (oddly) got the biker chicks dancing. Folks paid $20 a head to get in, and, along with a raffle and direct donations, more than $38K was raised for Ramos' wife, Monica, according to David Heppler, one of the event's organizers.
As this worm-wrangler canvassed the crowd, Budweiser in hand, it spied a who's who of the nativist movement, from Minuteman leader Chris Simcox and his deadly enemy, Jim Gilchrist, to former goober-natorial candidate Don Goldwater and reactionary radio lip-flapper Terry Anderson. Why, even PHX mayoral hopeful Steve "Loser" Lory was workin' the crowd. And this beak-bearer finally got to meet colleague Linda Bentley of the way-right Sonoran News, who disapproves of Sheriff "Nickel Bag" Joe Arpaio nearly as much as this magpie.
Although this pugnacious pelican was despised by many in attendance, was occasionally referred to in colorful terms, and was once asked to leave by anchor-baby-basher Dallacroce, he was afforded safe passage by American Freedom Riders founder Danny Smith, whose biker group sponsored the wingding. This cunning kite used his powers of persuasion to win over Dallacroce and others to thinking that The Bird was at least worth arguing with. Civil, though heated, political discussion in a biker bar? Hey, it happened, people.
There was an absence of skinheads, unlike at other nativist hayrides. Maybe neo-Nazis don't mix well with Easy Riders. Or maybe they just knew they weren't welcome. The American Freedom Riders may be wrong about Ramos and Compean, but at least they throw one helluva party.
Noticeably absent from the festivities at the Roadrunner was Kia-peddler Rusty Childress, who once was known as the "cofounder" of the American Freedom Riders but who has been ostracized by his own organization and has since split off to form a much-smaller bike club called Riders U.S.A. , which boasts a skull-head logo very similar to that of the AFR.
According to various sources, Childress was booted from AFR last year, though as late as mid-June, he apparently was representing himself as a spokesman for the group to the Arizona Republic, and he appeared wearing an AFR T-shirt at a Cave Creek City Council meeting in June to discuss the issue of day laborers, an act that angered some AFR members.
Childress, who recently suffered serious injuries in a motorcycle accident, did not return repeated calls for comment. AFR chief Danny Smith remained mum on the obvious rift. However, AFR member David Heppler did confirm the split and asserted that many American Freedom Riders feel resentment toward Childress for wearing their colors even though he's no longer with them.
How did this biker brouhaha begin?
"There were some issues that came up with Rusty Childress on the possible hiring of [illegals] or one of his vendors having illegals working on his property," squawked Heppler, who stated that late last year some AFR members supposedly spotted non-English-speaking laborers on Childress' lot. Childress was confronted about it, and the car salesman told fellow bikers that the laborers were not his responsibility because they were the employees of vendors contracted to wash Childress' cars and perform janitorial services.
Heppler claimed this confrontation was common knowledge within the core AFR membership. Indeed, several present at the Ramos event had heard the allegations, including Michelle Dallacroce.
The Bird has obtained a curious e-mail, dated December 19, 2006, that's been circulating in nativist circles and is purportedly from Childress to the leaders of FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform. In the e-mail, Childress tells the group that he has not made a good-faith effort to assure that his janitorial or car-wash vendors are using authorized labor. He wonders if he might be guilty in the public eye if this was uncovered and asks FAIR leaders for a CYA strategy.
This incredulous egret found the e-mail hard to believe. Could Childress, the head of United for a Sovereign America, a persistent antagonist of those who employ illegals and a regular host of Thursday-night prejudice parties at his Kia dealership, be a huge-ass hypocrite?
Two of the addressees, Susan Tully of FAIR and Michael Hethmon of the closely affiliated Immigration Reform Law Institute, did not recall the specific e-mail, but they both admitted they knew Childress because he is a member of the voluntary FAIR Approved program, in which businesspeople pledge not to use suspect workers.
The subject of this e-mail is, according to AFR members, the primary reason for the Childress-AFR divorce.
"I think what the majority of guys just wanted was an explanation of were they illegal, were they not," peeped Heppler. But those answers were not forthcoming, and AFR-members seethed at what's been perceived by some as Rusty's betrayal of the anti-illegal movement.
Also, more than one nativist activist has bristled at Childress' new policy of doing background checks on attendees of the Thursday-night powwows at Childress Kia, a policy perhaps inspired by The Bird's previous infiltrations. In fact, Dallacroce, one of the most recognizable faces of the anti-illegal crusade, was recently kicked out of one of the Kia meet-ups because she refused to agree to a vetting.
"I was dismissed from the group by Anna Gaines [of the organization You Dont Speak for Me]," screeched Dallacroce. "She said it was because I wouldn't fill out a form saying that I wasn't an insurgent or a spy. Even though I've been on national news. Because I won't fill out the paperwork, I was no longer welcome to speak at the Childress dealership anymore and no longer welcome to attend."
The incensed Dallacroce also dished on Childress' alleged illegal-worker problem.
"I can tell you I personally do not hire illegal aliens," she asserted. "People who come into my home [to do contract work] will get their photographs taken by me and I will look at their driver's licenses. I will not have illegal aliens working for me. And I would hope that people like Rusty Childress would do the same."
TOWN WITHOUT PITY
Many of the same anti-immigration wackos who shed rivers of tears for Ramos and Compean have zero sympathy for the plight of Virginia Gutierrez, whose sad saga was first reported in The Bird ("No, Virginia," August 30) and has since been updated regularly by this nest-builder's blogging bro, Feathered Bastard.
Gutierrez, an honors grad from North High School with scholarships to attend ASU this fall, came to this country with her undocumented parents when she was a kid (some sources say when she was 3 years old; others say when she was 8). After her car was impounded following a traffic stop, she tried to get it back, presented an allegedly fake Mexican ID, and was arrested by Phoenix PD for forgery. While in custody, ICE persuaded her to sign voluntary deportation papers, and she was on a bus to Nogales faster than you can say Pancho Villa.
She's now with family in Chihuahua, Mexico, according to her pals. But the chances that she'll be able to return to this nation of immigrants will be made tougher by the fact that there's a bench warrant out for her arrest in the forgery case. County Attorney Candy Thomas' legal lapdogs did a real Franz Kafka number on Gutierrez. Even though she's deported, the forgery case against her remains active, and when she did not appear for a preliminary hearing on August 28, the judge hit her with the bench warrant.
Sure, that sucks, but don't tell it to the nitwit, knuckledragger nativists who recently disrupted a peaceful rally for Gutierrez on the state Capitol lawn. As teachers, religious leaders, friends, and fellow students spoke of the unfair situation, a rabid, red-faced crowd of white-bread idgits interrupted the speakers with loud, crude "boo-hoos," and shouted, "She's in Mexico where she belongs."
The face of hate and stupidity was never more apparent than on that day. How ironic, too, that some of these same lowlife rednecks, who preach the "rule of law," would likely stick up for lawbreakers such as Ramos and Compean. There's no doubt of Ginny's moral innocence relative to the two Border Patrol agents. Gutierrez's only real crime was trying to remain in the country despite her undocumented status, which is no crime at all to The Bird.
Where's the compassion, the humanity? In the nativist camp, what pity there is seems directed at a couple of law enforcement officers who shot an illegal in the ass, then covered it up to save their fannies.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Phoenix, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.