Sunday, August 11, 1996
By Michael Angell
Summer Bruin Staff
It was a battle for the sidewalks as the two groups that faced
off July 4 in Westwood met again on Saturday. But this time the
groups only exchanged insults instead of blows.
About 500 people from Voice of Citizens Together and the
Progressive Labor Party met again at the Federal Building over
illegal immigration. Their last confrontation resulted in a melee
that closed down Wilshire Boulevard and sent one man to the
Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department deputies were ready for any
violence between two groups that have staked out differing
positions on the immigration issue.
"Illegal immigrants are sucking the marrow out of America," said
Glenn Spencer, president of the Voice of Citizens Together.
Yet members of the Progressive Labor party believe that
capitalism itself is to blame for America’s problems.
"No more rich and no more poor. Human Rights are what we’re
fighting for," Labor party members chanted.
The last time the two groups met, they were pushed to opposite
sides of Wilshire Boulevard. But this time they were both on the
same side, separated only by a phalanx of sheriff’s deputies in
riot gear. Spencer cried foul at this arrangement, angry that his
group was relegated to the lawn instead of the more visible
"They should be kept across the street. We have the permit to
march today, not them," Spencer said.
Unlike the July 4 confrontation when these two groups hurled
sticks, punches and cans at one another, only insults made it
across the line of heavily armed deputies. Spencer’s group had
readied itself for violence, yet the deputies confiscated anything
that could have been used as a weapon.
"Those chicken communists over there, they bring weapons in
order to disrupt our lawful assembly," Spencer said. "But the
police didn’t let us bring in sticks."
From atop the Federal Building sign along Wilshire, Spencer
warned his group to be prepared for further conflicts in the
According to Spencer, groups such as the Progressive Labor Party
represent the advance guard in a communist invasion that will sweep
across the United States. That advance guard includes illegal
immigrants, he added.
"You’re going to see a lot more of those people," Spencer said.
"When the time’s right there’s going to be the greatest civil war
that America has ever seen.
"Those are Mexican flags out there," Spencer said pointing to
the Progressive Labor Party’s red and black flags. "It’s just like
the matadors. Behind that flag, they’re poised to attack. Don’t be
fooled by Mexican tricks."
The Voice of Citizens Together advocate the closure of U.S.
borders and the immediate deportation of all illegal immigrants.
The group believes that immigrants have taken jobs away from
citizens, wreaked havoc in the United States, and are taking
advantage of government programs.
But the Progressive Labor Party believes the issue is class not
nationality. They advocate the opening of borders and the end of
the capitalist system as the solution for the nations’
Wearing a "Rage Against the Machine" tee shirt with Che
Guevara’s picture on the front, Tony Lopez is one of those
revolutionaries that Spencer is worried about. The South Central
Los Angeles resident and L.A. Trade Tech student said he came out
to "protest against racist and fascist groups.
"Does this look like a Mexican flag?" Lopez said. "Our group is
multiracial. We have blacks, whites and Latinos out here
Other protesters took issue with Spencer’s claim that illegal
immigrants are sponging off the system. Bernie Hatt, a member of
the Libertarian Party, called Spencer’s comments "an inflammatory
"That’s insane to say that illegal immigrants are taking away
jobs," Hatt said. "Have they taken your job? The majority of
immigrants over here work."
Asked what he thinks about immediate deportation of all illegal
immigrants, Hatt responded, "Hell no it’s not a problem. If you
want to pay $5 for a head of lettuce, it’s no problem."
Progressive Labor Party demonstrators saw such attacks on
immigrants as parallel to attacks that occurred in 1930s
"If you just substitute the word Jew for immigrant, then you
would understand where that group is coming from," Lopez said.
"They’re lucky the cops are here."
Los Angeles’ Sheriff’s deputies mobilized for this event with 95
officers, aided by another 20 Los Angeles Police Department
officers. Two arrests were made during the demonstration.
After doing their best to disrupt the Voice rally, the
Progressive Labor Party marched down Wilshire to Westwood
Boulevard. A few Voice protesters then took up spots on the coveted
sidewalk in order to wave signs in front of passing motorists.
Once the rally ended, Spencer promised that his group would be
back. He wanted 5,000 supporters in order to outnumber the
"If this is going to be the land of the free, it has to be the
home of the brave," Spencer said.