Buffalo chips, ahoy! Even Ankarlo finds this guy "icky," and that's saying something, coming from KTAR's ick-meister pooh-bah... (Note the pistol, folks. Armed? Absolutely. Dangerous? Hey, no more than any other wacko with a sidearm.)
En route to the Macehualli Work Center near 25th Street and Bell Road Wednesday mornin', I found myself listening in bemusement as KTAR's Darrell Ankarlo ragged on a certain nativist buffalo chip whose Snuffy Smith visage and Yosemite Sam locutions have turned him into a rootin'-tootin' racist cliche locally. Senor chips* is a fixture in the nativist camp, as well as buttboy-in-chief to ex-Kia-peddler Rusty Childress. That Childress is no piker himself, picking up New Times' 2007 Best Bigot award for his coddling of racists, neo-Nazis like J.T. Ready, and wannabe-Klan types at the weekly prejudice parties of Childress' anti-immigrant org United for a Sovereign America.
I'd been heading toward Macehualli, the camp for day-laborers run by immigrants-rights activist Salvador Reza, when I heard Ankarlo playing audio clips of this PHX buffalo patty shouting inanities at the top of his lungs. Ankarlo then expressed a sentiment no doubt shared by many nativists who've discovered the chip's Gabby Hayes-esque mug filling their TV screens and newspaper pages of late, finding that he's now the de facto lead spokesperson for P-town extremists on illegal aliens.
"There's a piece of me that says, `Do I really wanna be a part of that?'" wondered Ankarlo to his on-air foil, journalist Diane Brennan, as she chortled.
"Thery're freakin me out a little bit," said Ankarlo of the chip and his comrades. He called the chip and others in the Childress camp, "a weird element," one that, "makes me feel icky." He likened them to old hippies, advising them, "Dang, bring it down a notch."
Ankarlo seemed to be under the impression that the chip, et al. were new to the anti-illegals scene, but in fact the chip has for a long time now been a source of unending embarrassment to anyone in the nativist movement with a lick of PR sense. He's a mean, mangy attack mutt, who is at every local protest, barking insanely at those who oppose his point of view, walking up and down his imaginary Maginot line, screaming spit-flecked invective, shaking his cane, and threatening to bite. He's despised and avoided by many in his own movement, though not by Childress, of course, who plays Frankenstein to the chip's Igor.
There's no doubt this hirsute chip heard Ankarlo's comments. When I arrived at Macehualli -- now the site of daily protests by Rusty Childress' U.S.A. group -- he had Ankarlo cranked on the radio of his truck, parked just outside the camp. At some point his brother-in-law (or so the guy claimed on-air) called in to defend him, but one other caller sided with Ankarlo, and the chip looked like someone'd peed in his Quaker Oats. I asked him what he thought of what Ankarlo had to say, and he just glowered at me, and threatened to kick my ass (heh) as he has a gajillion times before. I've heard the chip refer to non-whites as "monkeys." He's also usually armed, as in the pic above. And he's obviously filled to the brim with hate.
Childress, for his part, wasn't around, which was too bad, because I wanted to ask him about the irony of him being read out of the bike group he co-founded, the American Freedom Riders, reportedly because he had allowed certain vendors suspected of using illegal labor onto his Kia car lot. (Childress has since sold the lot.) And yet, here were Childress' peeps protesting a day-laborer camp where they complained illegals were scoring jobs. Childress has never responded to requests for comments from me regarding a supposed e-mail where he asks for help with a CYA strategy from the leaders of the Federation for American Immigration Reform. (See, "Childress Agonistes," September 13, 2007.)
Despite the claims of Childress and the chip to have closed Macehualli, the camp was still open. There were maybe 40 or 50 guys on the property waiting for work. Reza told me that traditionally it's slow this time of year, though at least 20 jornaleros did go out on jobs Wednesday, which he said is about normal for the season.
Reza also threatened to close Macehualli in the next couple of days, and let the jornaleros take it to the streets, a possibility the local business community dreads.
"That's what they (the nativists) want," Reza told me. "We might give it to them. It might be tomorrow, it might be Fiday, but we're going to give it to them."
That sends a chill up the spine of Keenan Strand, president of the local small business association, who remembers the way it was before the Macehualli Work Center was established.
"It was as ugly as Pruitt's, with day laborers all over," said Strand, who spoke to me as the nativist crowd walked past us and hurled invective. "They literally ended up in people's yards. [If Reza closes the center], it puts them back into everybody's parking lots up and down Bell Road."
According to Strand, the work center's stabilized the situation, giving the jornaleros a place to go that's not on some businessperson's property.
"It's settled down finally, and now these protesters are mad at Salvador for what's going on at Pruitt's," said Strand. "They're trying to hurt him, but they're just hurting the neighborhood."
But the anti-Reza protesters don't care if they hurt the neighborhood or stir shit up. That's what they're all about, for the most part. The cops told me they made one arrest Wed., of some 17-year old kid who stupidly tried to bum-rush a couple of the protesters, and then ran off. It almost broke the protesters' lil' black hearts to discover that the kid was not illegal. The cops arrested him, released him into the custody of his parents, and cited him as a juvenile. For the nativists, every time they provoke an incident like that one is a small victory. Fortunately, there were loads of cops around. Otherwise, with all these rednecks packin' heat, such an incident could easily turn deadly, with the nativists claiming that they were -- shucks -- just defendin' themselves.
I did end up having a relatively civil argument with this nativist dood named Clyde. He was about the only one there on his side capable of conversing without constantly shouting insults. So he gets points for that. As for the rest of 'em, you might as well be talking to a slab of concrete.
*His name's Rick Galeener, and he likes to call himself "Buffalo Rick." Generally, I try to avoid mentioning the guy, because he probably whacks off to his own press. But it was unavoidable in this instance.