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Minutemen rally in Santa Clarita

Several others join event to raise money for Ramos family

Posted: June 28, 2008 10:42 p.m.
Updated: August 30, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Saugus resident Geoff Wilson, dressed as Uncle Sam, waves to passing cars, urging them to wave or honk at the Honor America/ Secure Our Border rally. The event took place at the SCV Civic Center on Saturday.

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Nearly 200 local residents, activists and members of the Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys Minutemen gathered at the Civic Center to voice their concerns about illegal immigration and increase support for imprisoned Ignacio Ramos, a former U.S. Border Agent, during the “Honor America/Secure our Border” rally on Saturday.

Rally organizer Roger Gitlin said their primary goal was to raise money for the Ramos family.
“We consider him a hero,” he said, referring to Ramos, who, along with former agent Jose Compean, is in prison after shooting an allegedly unarmed illegal immigrant and drug smuggler on the U.S. and Mexico border.

Gitlin said he did not have a final total on how much money was raised, but called it a “substantial amount” and noted that one attendee made a $2,000 donation.

During the rally, Ignacio’s wife, Monica, tearfully spoke to the crowd about the difficulties her family faced as a result of her husband being in jail.

“Today my husband sits in a 5 by 10 cell,” she said. Ramos said her husband receives one hour of recreation time a week and is allowed to shower three times a week.

Along with honoring America before the Fourth of July holiday, Gitlin saw the rally, a first for the local area, as a way to “continue to draw attention to our unfettered, porous borders and how it affects, in my case, the Santa Clarita Valley.”

During the rally, he spoke about the increasing population of illegal immigrants and the “birth rate associated with illegal immigrants.”

He believes the immigrant population will have an effect on the crime rate, water resources, environment and traffic.

While Gitlin said he supports immigration, he sees “legal immigration” as the only way to have immigration.

At the Civic Center, located off Valencia Boulevard, more than 10 speakers from all parts of Southern California took the stand to address the crowd of families and activists. A majority of attendees waved American flags and sported red, white and blue clothing.

Many speakers focused on challenging local, state and national politicians in addressing illegal immigration.

“I want Barack Obama to move next door to Jamiel Shaw’s home,” said activist Amir Raheem, referring to the 17-year-old who was shot in Los Angeles last month. “I want John McCain to move right down on San Fernando.”

John March, father of slain Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff David March, sees a changing nation.
“We the people of the United States,” he said. “Where did that go?”

Along Valencia Boulevard, a handful of supporters and volunteers waved and held signs with the phrase “Stop Illegal Immigration” while encouraging drivers to pull over and listen to the series of activists.

Throughout the rally, the sound of honking horns could be heard as the speakers stood before the microphone.

At one point, a man dressed as Uncle Sam waved to motorists.

Susan Marlow, a former SCV resident, said was encouraged to come to the rally with her husband, John.

“This is something I feel very strongly about,” she said, referring to Ignacio Ramos’s story. “These men were trying to help us.”

She believes the situation with Ramos could hurt the morale of other patrolmen, as well as any other types of officers.

“This could happen to any of our law enforcement,” she said, while holding the sign, “Know Justice for Ramos-Campeon.”

John Vanbreemen, holding a “Stop Illegal Immigration” sign on the sidewalk, said he attended the rally as a way to raise awareness.

As for a solution to illegal immigration, Vanbreemen said there’s a “need to enforce the law as far as employers go,” referring to companies that hire illegal immigrants.

He believes enforcing the law would solve “a lot of the problem.”

Gitlin said he will continue to hold vigils like Saturday’s. He believes the elected officials of Santa Clarita, expect Mayor Bob Kellar, have been “mum on this subject.”

“Our message is protect our citizens and secure our border...,” he said.

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