Yesterday, approximately 200,000 people gathered at the National Mall to show their support of comprehensive immigration reform. Roy Beck, director of the immigration restrictionist group, NumbersUSA, decided to add himself to the mix and report on the event via a live stream that was available on the group’s website. According to Anne Manetas of NumbersUSA, a group of female mimes threatened Beck and his bodyguards with “constant efforts at crushing physical intimidation” instigated by “blowing hateful whistles” and waving balloons. Watch NumbersUSA’s video of the hateful mimes:
However, that doesn’t explain why Beck’s bodyguard is the one who ended up being arrested and charged with assault yesterday. Lena Graber, one of the three mimes who pressed charges against Beck’s bodyguard, talked with Wonk Room this morning. Graber explains that she and four other mimes followed Beck and his crew around for four hours in an effort to prevent Beck from picking a fight with demonstrators. According to Graber, Beck’s bodyguard pulled out a pocket knife and started popping the mimes’ balloons. Graber cannot provide details on the assault charges filed by the other two mimes, but she did provide an account of what happened to her yesterday:
They were pretty aggressive and they would sort of elbow us out of the way and say “Don’t touch me” as they were doing so. One of the bodyguards had white makeup all over his elbow and he was all upset that the mimes had gotten makeup on him…but our makeup was on our faces and I wasn’t face-bunting anyone so I felt like that was more incriminating evidence than anything else.
We each started with about 15 balloons that were on ribbons and the taller bodyguard had a pocket knife and he would grab the balloons and pop them with the knife. And at one point when I still had a lot of balloons they were tied around my upper arm…and I felt this yank on my arm where they were tied around. And I turned and he was pulling on all of the ribbons…so that was the only time I talked, I said “OW, that hurts. That’s attached to my arm, stop that.” And he didn’t stop and so I screamed as loud as I could. […]
Graber also stated one of Beck’s cameramen remarked, “well, I guess I’ve never been followed around by five women all day — even better they’re not talking.” Another witness who did not want to be named confirmed Graber’s account and described the mimes’ behavior as “completely whimsical in nature — never threatening.” Both Graber and the witness confirmed that the “hateful whistles” were actually just small plastic whistles in the shape of a soccer ball.
Deepak Bhargava of the Center for Community Change, one of the march’s organizers, tells Wonk Room:
“In pressing our case for immigration reform this year, one of our main efforts will be to be forcing our leaders to take sides – will they stand with hate mongers like Roy Beck or will they stand with hardworking Americans who want immigration reform. Our movement brought 200,000 people to Washington to press a message of hope and make our case peacefully and positively. The tea party brought a few hundred the day before to hurl racial epithets and slurs at Congress and the President. Roy Beck brought thugs — one of whom was arrested for assault — to a peaceful march. It’s time for our leaders to decide who they stand with.”
Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, another restrictionist group, reports that Beck “filed assault charges with the Park Police against all the mimes and their SEIU handlers.” Aside from the alleged assault on behalf of Beck’s bodyguard, yesterday’s march was orderly and peaceful.
Cross-posted on the Wonk Room.