This week, city councils across Orange County, CA voted on whether to join the County in a lawsuit against the State over SB54, a bill to prevent the Federal government from using local law enforcement as ICE agents. These Amicus briefs are largely symbolic to support President Trump and the GOP’s racist agenda using taxpayer money. The actions are unnecessary, redundant, divisive, and political theater to appease Republican allies in a battle for the soul of our country.
We have a lot of work to do and a lot of obstacles in our way. We must start with local government and you will understand why as you read this article. First, I will describe what I learned and then I will give you specific action items.
All of this is very unsettling on its own, but I was definitely not prepared for an evening of heated debate with the racist founder and leader of the Minutemen Project, Jim Gilchrist.
Protesters and citizens outside of Aliso Viejo City Hall Photo Credit: Congressional District 48 candidate, Kevin Kensinger (I)
“Spent the evening outside our own Aliso Viejo City Hall’s #SB54 proceedings.
When the city sues the state, the Middle-Class taxpayer pays, twice.
The shouting outside was the same color coded echo chamber we see online. No one wanted a conversation. Just waiting for their turn to yell.
If we all want immigration reform, pushing undocumented members of society into the shadows makes no sense. It makes everyone’s job harder.
Hearing InfoWars staff talk about their reverence for big govt Federal law superseding state law like classic Federalists was the only highlight.”
– Congressional District 48 candidate, Kevin Kensinger (I)
By the way, have I mentioned that Kevin Kensinger is my pick for Congress? I was on the fence, but he definitely mirrors my values better than any candidate running for the U.S. House of Representatives seat in district 48.
I rushed home after a long day at work to attend the Aliso Viejo City Council meeting, where a vote on the Amicus brief was scheduled. Through local Facebook groups, I knew many of my neighbors were planning to be there and I also knew that out of town disrupters had already appeared at other meetings in Huntington Beach and San Juan Capistrano. Arthur Schaper and his posse of Alt-Right haters were making the rounds, heckling and goading attendees.
Arthur Schaper of Torrance, CA holding a defiled American flag at the San Juan Capistrano City Council meeting on 04/03/18
Photo Credit: Anne Hughitt of San Juan Capistrano
When I arrived at City Hall, there was a crowd of at least 50 to 100 people outside the building who were chanting and heatedly arguing. City Hall is located directly across the street from the Orange County Sheriff’s substation, and there was a decent law enforcement officer (LEO) presence at the meeting. The Sheriffs were no longer admitting anyone into the chamber and were moving the crowd out of the lobby as well.
Protesters and citizens in the lobby of City Hall on 04/04/2018 Video Credit: Congressional District 48 candidate, Omar Siddiqui (D)
I was able to casually slip inside by indicating that I wanted to look at the printed materials on the table just inside the door. From there, I moved to the back of the room, standing by a wall only a half dozen or so rows behind Rep Dana Rohrabacher’s (R) reserved front row seat. By the wall, there was a small, older man surveying the people in the room. What I didn’t realize is that he was Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minutemen Project, and that I was standing next to him pretty much all night.
Within the first few moments, he called a someone on his mobile phone and gave the ratio of pro sb54 attendees to con. He accused the pro SB54 supporters of being out of towners when in fact the MAGA crowd was mostly out of town instigators. He told the person on the phone “you should come” and “don’t do that, you’ll be arrested” with a hearty chuckle. I could only hear one side of the conversation.
Often, when people are faced with skeptics, they respond in four ways: 1. you must be lying, 2. you must be wrong, 3. you must not care, 4. you must be motivated by money.
You Must Be Lying
When he hung up the phone, I told him he was mistaken. The instigators in attendance who were not from Aliso Viejo were in fact Arthur Schaper’s Alt-right hate posse. Affronted that I corrected him, he asked me if I really lived in Aliso Viejo. I do, just down the road, for nine years. According to his Facebook profile, Gilchrist also lives in Aliso Viejo. He told me that Arthur Schaper was nuts. That people needed to behave in public meetings.
You Must Be Wrong
Gilchrist disappointedly told me that only the Alt-right seemed to appreciate the Rule of Law. That is his only defense for the Minuteman activities. For the marches, harassment, lobbying politicians, and more, all in the name of the Rule of Law. The fact of the matter is that there are thousands of laws that are frivilous and unenforced. This particular law is only important to those who want to discriminate against immigrants of color. While Gilchrist indicated that this is a Rule of Law issue, ICE isn’t rounding up Europeans who’ve overstayed their Visas.
When I wouldn’t budge on my position, he turned dark. He asked me if I would let a criminal illegal alien into my home, to live with me, to watch my children. I asked him why he was trying to create a scary mental image of a demographic of people. He was trying to use imagery to create a prejudice in my mind, to try and make me scared of brown people.
This dehumanizing tactic is used to create an us vs them scenario. Fear is a common tool used to create decision-making emotion. To accomplish fear, proponents of hate spread unfounded crime statistics and paint a picture of rapists and murderers who scale fences and crawl through dirt tunnels. This is purposely to demonize an entire demographic of people who are simply trying to run into the arms of America for a better life. People who are escaping oppressive governments, escaping drug cartels, escaping poverty and famine. People are not illegal, some actions are illegal, and often times laws need to be changed.
Hillary Clinton used a similar marketing strategy against President Obama during the 2008 primary by releasing an ad called 3 am. The message was basically who would you trust to protect you in the middle of the night at 3 am, a white woman or a black man?
You Must Not Care
By this point, we got in a heated argument with near raised voices. He switched tactics and tried to pull the “you’re not doing enough so obviously you don’t care” card. Gilchrist said that I don’t really support undocumented Americans unless I let them live in my home and watch my children. I told him that was a BS strawman argument and that yes I have had undocumented Americans in my home, I have also been to their home, and they have been part of my extended friends / surrogate family.
The MAGA crowd loves to step into this territory, even using actual humanitarian issues such as human trafficking, exploitation, and Coyotes as though they actually care about the immigrants. Don’t be fooled. They absolutely don’t care what happens and simply want to point out that Democrats are hypocrites for not taking the full measure. And to that point, they are right, though I think they would be disappointed with the outcome of acting on that principle. Even Gilchrist had to concede that giving them green cards and making them legal residents would solve the Rule of Law problem.
You Must Be Motivated By Money
At one point, I asked him why he was so concerned with something that didn’t personally affect him. He said it did affect him and that they were taking jobs. Gilchrist believes that if the workforce that accounts for 10% of California’s economy was deported, then agriculture, labor, and service jobs would rise to a pay rate of $18 per hour. A couple of big problems with his Libertarian math:
- Agriculture receives farm subsidies to survive. A massive spike in the cost of labor would result in hyperinflation of the price of food, unless the tight-fisted GOP increased the entitlements given to farmers.
- How do you expect wages to rise at all when Republicans won’t raise the minimum wage above $8? If the GOP is unwilling to cover the cost of increased labor prices through additional farm subsidies, the farmers certainly wouldn’t do it on their own.
He agreed with me that the Republicans are the problem, but also stated that the Democrats are as well. I can’t say I disagree with him on that particular point. But he obviously has no problem with Republicans, given his friendly relations with politicians in the chamber, and so it was clear to me that he only said that because he was starting to understand my motivations.
Jim Glichrist addresses the Aliso Viejo City Council in favor of the Amicus brief Photo Credit: Aliso Viejo City Hall Live Feed
The instigators on the other side of the aisle were far more successful in rattling attendees. A young girl in tears moved to a seat in front of me after being called a “wetback” by one of the MAGA crowd. Gilchrist, concerned at first, wanted to know what happened. But when he found out, he appeared unmoved. Later in the evening, he said that she and her friends were hateful and should be kicked out.
And if you don’t believe my account of Gilchrist’s racism, read his own words posted to Facebook on April 1, 2018. You see, Gilchrist isn’t interested in the melting pot culture that is the bedrock of our society. He believes that immigrants will create segregation divided by language. He prefers to only accept individuals who commit to assimilating. He can’t tolerate those who look differently, speak differently, and act differently than his predefined definitions of American normal.
Jim Gilchrist Facebook Share
Aliso Viejo Mayor Dave Harrington, who is running for Orange County Sheriff and is using this initiative as publicity for his campaign, gave Congressman Rohrabacher preferential placement to speak first in the public comments portion of the meeting. Two of his challengers were in attendance as well, Kevin Kensinger (I) and Omar Siddiqui (D), and they were not given an equal opportunity.
At one point during the public comments, an Aliso Viejo resident requested that the city council stop inviting Rohrabacher to our city events because his presence was divisive. I wholly agree. This is the first event I have ever attended where InfoWars showed up to instigate the crowd. If you really needed a whole Russian espionage plot to realize Republicans were dirty, you haven’t been paying attention.
Mayor Harrington’s wife also gave furious public comments in support of the Amicus brief. While the Mayor kicked off the meeting telling us that he would give everyone a chance to speak and the council would hear all of us, it was pretty clear by his googly eyes and approving smile that some voices deserved his attentive ear while other voices merely required perfunctory listening on his part.
Photo Credit: Aliso Viejo City Council live stream
I later learned exactly who I had been speaking to that evening when I arrived at home and watched the live stream. Gilchrist gave his public comments and reminded Mayor Harrington of the Minutemen Project’s $200 donation to his campaign warchest and that he would talk to the Mayor later about that. He reminded the Mayor and the council that he passionately supports them. The live stream was online the day after the meeting and his comments may be viewed at the approximate timestamp of 3 hours and 23 minutes. For some unknown reason, the video does not appear to be on the City Council’s website anymore.
What was more terrifying? Schaper’s trolling or Gilchrist bribing my Mayor with campaign donations and standing in the back of the room like a Mafia boss? Really, it’s clear. Schaper is a distraction. He makes for good TV, which is why InfoWars, Breitbart, local news, and even Jimmy Kimmel have had him on their shows. He was entertaining at the Indivisible Town Hall while heckling Ted Lieu, but is otherwise unemployable. But Gilchrist is quiet, lurking in the background with his cronies. Buying politicians with money, networking, influence, and shared bad intentions.
After more than six hours of public comment, the Aliso Viejo City Council voted 4-1 in favor of the Amicus brief. There are four council members who will need to be fired, and that’s where you come in. We, as citizens, must do better. We must elect better leaders who will act in the interest of all of its residents and not divert taxpayer money for frivolous legal matters. Even if you are not a resident of Aliso Viejo, you must do this in your own city or municipality. Learn who your leaders are and who funds them. The leaders we elect in local offices today are in training for larger County, State, and National positions in the future. This is how we build a bench.
These are the council members we must fire in the next election:
Mayor: Dave Harrington
Councilman Phillip Tsunoda
Council Member: Mike Munzing
Council Member: Bill Phillips
The next election is in 2018. We must find challengers, fund them, support them, canvass for them, and man their phone banks.
Mayor Pro Tem: Ross Chun was the only dissenting vote.
“And as I’ve mentioned, we’ve all been quite content to demean government, drop civics and in general conspire to produce an unaware and compliant citizenry. The unawareness remains strong but compliance is obviously fading rapidly. This problem demands some serious, serious thinking – and not just poll driven, demographically-inspired messaging.” – Bill Ivey to John Podesta
Yes, I went there. The Democrats may have thought this was a clever trick, but it’s also resulted in the loss of 1,200+ seats around the country. The establishment has no party. It only has power and this is how that power is maintained. We must remain alert and prevent men like Gilchrist from buying influence. We must fire our city council and elevate people who will act in our best interest. We cannot do that if we aren’t paying attention.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Phillip Tsunodo cast the only dissenting vote. In fact, it was Mayor Pro Tem Ross Chun who cast the only dissenting vote.
Two additional items of note: 1. I learned that there was a surge of nativists outside the building shortly after Jim Gilchrist made his phone call. 2. Gilchrist had told the person over the phone that the ratio of pro SB 54 attendees to con was 4-1 and that we were from out of town, which was a completely fabricated statement.
On a side note: Undercovered Magazine is a labor of love. All members have contributed their content without receiving any funding for the past six months. Kindly take a moment to help fund Jenna’s writing by donating to paypal.me/jennajbeck.