On August 8th a group of some 30 workers and youth assembled in Providence at the Rhode Island State House to counter-protest the “Paul Revere Ride” (PRR), a racist motorcycle gang making a 48 state tour across the US to whip up fear and violence against immigrant workers. The PRR calls on people to report “illegals” to the state and local police, and advocates a militarized border. This is nothing but a more concentrated expression of the policies of both the Democrats and Republicans who work to maintain the status quo of immigrants as cheap and easily exploitable labor.
Although the pro-immigrant rights forces drowned out much of the PRR’s racist propaganda during their rally on the steps of the State House, the few bits that made it through the chants of “racists go home!” showed the xenophobic attitude of these people. They made statements such as: “their children spread disease in our schools” and: “the best weapon against these invaders in to call your state police to come round ’em up”. One local business owner and supporter of the PRR stated, “I say arm the border and shoot ’em as they come across!” Comments like these underscore the need to stop such groups before they are able to spew their hate any further, before they can grow or gain any support.
But aside from the two or three locals who came to stand with them, the PRR found virtually no support in Providence and was met with a hostile crowd which incessantly demanded that they “go home!” and “get out!” Towards the end of the action a group of students and adults that had been passing by agreed to join the pro-immigrant rights group, bringing the total present to near 50.
Many of the counter-demonstrators took turns on the mega-phones shouting such things as: “if you don’t like immigrants then you don’t have to eat a meal once you leave here, because you know immigrants pick most of the food in this country.” Even the name of the PRR was used to expose the muddled outlook of these goons: “Hey, didn’t you know Paul Revere was the son of two immigrants, good research you geniuses!” The predominate chants however remained “racists go home!” “Anti-immigrant is anti-worker!” and “fascists out!”
The PRR is nothing new. It is a repackaged version of previous reactionary thugs: the KKK, the Minutemen, and the Italian, German, and Spanish fascist gangs. Some PRR members claim to be small business owners on the brink of ruin due to “illegal” immigration. But the oppressed and exploited workers forced into immigration by socio-economic conditions are not the real threat to small business. The real threat comes from the mega-corporations which squeeze out small businesses by driving down wages and conditions on both sides of the border in order to maximize profits. The only way forward for humanity is for collective ownership of the key levers of the economy under democratic workers’ control. It is only under these conditions that the “little guy” can actually get a break: cheap loans without the threat of foreclosure by the big banks constantly looming overhead, voluntary integration into the nationalized-planned economy, etc.
Mass action by working people is the only way to stop groups like the PRR dead in their tracks before they gain numbers and confidence. They act as the tools of big business and the state to carry out the dirty work of dividing and defeating the working class. The future of humanity rests on the power of a unified working class – immigrant and non-immigrant alike. The power the working class exhibited on May 1st earlier this year is only a small taste of the power of the workers united. The labor movement must take the lead in defending the rights of all workers, no matter where they were born. No one should have to die crossing an artificial border in the desert in the hopes of a few more dollars a week.
- Full rights and amnesty to immigrant workers and their families!
- End all racist immigration and asylum controls!
- Mobilize the labor movement to combat racism: workers’ unity is the way forward!