It was a beautiful celebration of the 6th Anniversary of the Macehualli Work Center in North Phoenix, with music, carne asada, Native American dancing and rituals, and children playing in the confines of the open-air facility, a facility dedicated to giving day-laborers a place to congregate and wait for job offers.
Well, that's to say it was beautiful as soon as the pack of about 20 nativists from
organizations such as Riders Against Illegal Aliens, and Rusty Childress' United for a Sovereign America, left their posts outside the center. From the moment Macehualli opened around 8:30 a.m. till around 12:30 p.m., this motorcycle-riding, gun-toting gang of wannabe outlaws terrorized the center and the neighborhood, yelling epithets at those peacefully assembling for the event.
Chief among these nudniks was convicted public urinator Buffalo Rick Galeener, who got off on threatening yours truly and getting into the face of activist Dennis Gilman, in a futile attempt to provoke an altercation. (Galeener knew there were two plainclothes policemen nearby from Phoenix PD's Community Response Squad, closely monitoring the situation.)
"If you get much closer, I'll piss in your ear," the nativist Snuffy Smith carped once when the subject of his conviction came up. Another time, he promised to piss down my nose as I was taking a photo of him. I told him I had an empty Coke bottle in my car if he needed to relieve himself.
You see, Galeener, one of the most obvious bigots in the local nativist ranks, pleaded guilty in December to taking an illegal al fresco whiz nearby the Work Center just south of 25th Street and Bell Road. The incident took place on March 8, 2008, when he was spotted making water into a plastic container outside the home of Paulita Cortes, who had her two-year-old son with her at the time
Galeener was talking part in what's been a year-long siege of Macehualli by local nativists, who claim operator Sal Reza is violating the law by allowing day-laborers to congregate on the property. The "rule of law" is the constant refrain of this crowd, though they've been known to break a few laws themselves. For instance, that morning one Hispanic-hating motorcycle enthusiast rode through Reza's property, forcing Reza to call 911. According to several witnesses, patrol cars showed up, but there were no arrests.
Notably absent from the fray was token anti-Hispanic Hispanic Anna Gaines, who is currently facing misdemeanor charges of criminal trespassing from an incident in July when she was arrested after refusing to leave a Borders bookstore. This, while she solicited petitions for a recall of Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon. Her recall effort failed to submit even one signature to the city clerk.
On hand, however, were Frank and Brandy Baron, owners of a massage parlor in Cave Creek, who are, oddly, two of the most civil individuals in the nativist wild bunch. Also in attendance was Joe Arpaio groupie Barb Heller, known for wearing a surgical mask during protests and for writing Sheriff Joe's name just above her ample cleavage as shown in one photo on her MySpace page.
I asked Heller why the surgical mask, figuring it had something to do with the nativist propaganda regarding immigrants and disease.
"It's because I take drugs like a lot of Americans to lower immunity from arthritis," the aging, but still bodacious, biker babe told me. "And whenever I get around you and Gilman I end up in the hospital...Apparently both of you are carrying something that makes me sick."
Pro-immigrant activist Adolfo Maldonado quickly piped in, "It's called intelligence."
At this, Mother Jugs stomped off. Scuttlebutt has it that Heller has recently become a member of Sheriff Joe's posse, but when I asked her about this, she replied that it was none of my business.
The knuckledraggers had appointed a "media spokesperson," Val Roller, who eventually walked up to me and introduced herself. Not sure what qualified her as a media spokesperson, save that she seemed to have all of her teeth. Roller told me that she and her tribe were just there celebrating being Americans, and that they weren't there to intimidate or shout obscenities.
Ironically, as we attempted a calm discussion, Buffalo kept chiming in his usual filth. I mentioned this to Val, and she shrugged it off, saying,"I'm not in charge of any individual here. He's an adult man."
An adult with a mouth full of garbage and hate. At one point, when Sal Reza and some of the others there to celebrate Macehualli's b-day came out, Buffalo shouted out, "Get 'em back in the cage, Sal. Get 'em back in the cage!"
Earlier, Galeener referred to the woman who witnessed him peeing in public as a
"cow." Many of the bike riders parked right in front of the woman's
house, as her son romped in the front yard. It was a blatant fear tactic.
Eventually, the whole crowd of them jumped on their bikes, revved their motors loudly, and took off. What caused them to leave like that is unknown, though it had been pretty fruitless for Roller and I to attempt any sort of real discussion with Buffalo and the other nativists making idiots of themselves.
"They're feeling their oats because the state went right wing," Sal stated to me after they were gone. "They're trying to intimidate us. We've been here six years and we'll be here as long as we have to be."
They were certainly bolder than normal, I thought, even in the presence of the cops. It was obvious from jump that they desperately wanted to scrap. And from fisticuffs, it wouldn't be much of a leap to see one or more of them pulling the guns on their hips and shedding blood. The community should be wary of this occurring in the future. Very wary.