By Yesenia Leon
Hundreds of Chicano Park supporters and a small group of white nationalists came face to face this Sunday at the Patriotic Picnic surrounding the Barrio Logan monuments which include Mexican revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata. The white nationalists were there to protest in favor of the removal of murals and monuments that depict Chicano and indigenous accomplishments and struggles. After the confrontation between the two groups led to verbal aggression, police officers separated and escorted the white nationalists out of the park. Many supporters, such as the one depicted above, wore masks in order to avoid being photographed by the authorities in fear of retaliation.
Senior Cassandra Rodriguez gave The Crusader a Q&A about the aftermath of the protest that occurred Sunday, Sep. 3 at Barrio Logan.
How did you find out about the event?
I have a friend that lives in that area and they sent me something asking if I was going to go.
What were your expectations of the protest?
I thought more white people would show up and try to vandalize the murals, hurt Chicanos, or just try to start fights, but it was not that violent in the end.
Have any of your friends been targeted by said group?
I had another friend that went and they said it was not really violent, but it was hard to keep it together because a lot of white nationalists were trying to anger the Chicanos that were there.
What was the aftermath of the protest in the community?
I think I realized that even though I live in California, it doesn’t mean I am safe and just because I don’t live in the South, [it] doesn’t mean that there aren’t right winged white supremacist groups down here. It made me think of how much of a target Barrio Logan can be and how easy it is to target because it’s predominantly Chicano. I ended up realizing that I wasn’t safe and I needed to do more.
Have you seen new organizations grow after the occurrence of the event?
I think the Barrio Logan area already had a lot of people following it even though it is not an organization. I feel like a lot more people that aren’t Chicano came out to support because they realized how wrong it was. Even white people who do not have to experience all of that came out. One of my friends is in the Party for Socialist Liberation, and they said that the PSL following went up after the events in Chicano Park.
There were no major altercations but there was someone recording to target people you said?
I do not know the full extent because I have not yet researched it, but I have been told and I read an article that said that Robert Ogden is known for going to these events and he videotapes people face’s so he can put them on his youtube channel. Other white supremacists can see the faces and then attack them, however, I do not know if it is online or physically.
What was your opinion on Police intervention?
I was expecting them to defend the right wing and maybe even hurt Chicanos and surprisingly nobody got arrested. However, they were protecting the white supremacists too much. I don’t think Chicanos would have been that violent. I think they would have definitely yelled and there would have been maybe a punch, but nobody was at risk of being killed. Yet the police escorted the white nationalists to their cars which is not right. They should not get protection if they are the ones coming here on the offensive. I am glad nobody was hurt because I definitely expected it, but everything was calm.
Do you think we will begin to see more of these events in our community?
I think that this specific group will probably stop. I do not know if other groups will come from Southern California but I think more people are going to have it in mind now. I am hoping there are not that many [white nationalist] groups, but I think they will not come out mainly because this protest was not a success as the supremacists were escorted out within minutes.
Are people in the community more cautious or are they confident after the event?
People knew there was going to be more of us than there were [white nationalists] and since we ran them out so quickly and they did not get to do anything. I think people are going to be more proud now since they know we came together and we got the white supremacists out.
Will this protest bring any changes to the community?
People are going to realize we need to start being a part of this and that we’re not safe. We hope they change their minds because Chicanos should not have to change their minds, they have to defend their identity.