Although the group says it disavows violence, more than one criminal case related to the San Diego Minutemen is now pending in the California courts. In one case now coming to trial, John Monti of Bellflower, a Los Angeles suburb, is charged with seven misdemeanors, including three counts each of battery and interfering with a person’s civil rights, stemming from an incident linked to the Minutemen. Monti, who drove down to San Diego from the LA area for a Minutemen protest in November 2006, reportedly harassed, threatened and provoked a physical confrontation with a group of day laborers lined up at the intersection of Rancho Penasquitos Boulevard and Carmel Mountain Road. Monti told police the laborers threatened him when he started taking their photo with a digital camera. Jeff Schwilk, founder of the San Diego Minutemen, issued a statement saying Monti is not a member of any Minutemen groups. (KGTV, San Diego, Sept. 19)
In a related case, Fernando Guardado of Fallbrook, a San Diego suburb, may face arrest after he failed to appear in court Sept. 20 for his arraignment on a battery charge in connection with an altercation with a Minutemen protester. Reached by phone around noon, Guardado said he did not know prosecutors had charged him or that he was supposed to be in court that morning. Reporters determined that two numbers of the address were transposed on the letter sent to Guardado informing him of the arraignment date.
The charge stems from an incident July 14 outside St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Fallbrook, a hiring site for day laborers. The Minutemen have held several rallies near the church to oppose the hiring site. About 20 protesters waving American flags and picket signs were present July 14. Dozens of Palomar College students and immigrants’ rights activists who supported the church’s day-labor site also were there.
Guardado and the alleged victim, Cedric Kiani Garcia of Vista, disagree about what happened outside the church that day when Garcia said something about a cracked windshield in the Guardado family’s SUV. Garcia said outside court Sept. 20 that Guardado, a passenger in the vehicle, “erupted,” got out of the SUV, grabbed for Garcia’s camera and struck him on the nose. Guardado, a parishioner at the church, said in a telephone interview that he never hit Garcia. (North County Times, Sept. 21)
Meanwhile, other anti-immigrant militias are moving towards outright terrorism.