Illegal immigrants, legal immigrants, minutemen, and anarchist ninjas all gathered together, and the American flag was more popular than on the Fourth of July.
The May Day rally and march in downtown Santa Ana drew a crowd of between 1,000 and 3,000 people, according to a police estimate. Cops on horses, motorcycles and in loud, low-flying helicopters looked to pounce on troublemakers.
Protesters want more rights for immigrants from Mexico. From the signs waved by most of the demonstrators, drivers licenses for illegal immigrants seemed to be the top issue.
Smiling Spanish-speaking families wore bright colors and happy toddlers painted a pleasant scene, but--like a tarantula crawling out of a burrito--anarchists, communists and Minutemen reared their heads too.
On the Plaza of Flags, the crowd waved mostly the American banner while a few held the Mexican flag. In an otherwise peaceful scene, one obese Minuteman heckled a group of white and Asian teenagers dressed like Al Qaeda ninjas. Was it a joke? Were they serious?
The ninjas wore all-black outfits and masks with slits for eyes. They held black flags, indicating they believe in nothing. They had nothing to say except, "We don't want any attention."
But the ninjas did flip the bird to the fat Minuteman clad in an unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt, belly hanging. "What is that, your IQ?" he responded. Burn.
The fat man said his name was Gerry Mance. Bystanders derided him as the Garbage Pail Kid of Minutemen. He said he was just trying to take a picture of the anarchists. Naui Huitzilopochtli, a Hispanic man with a digital camera, began recording Mance, who launched into a tired diatribe about illegal immigrants taking jobs and costing taxpayers money. "They came out to protest their rights," Mance said. "Well, they have a right to leave."
Mance then asserted that the Constitution grants him the power to interview and arrest illegal "invaders." He inexplicably attempted to justify his case with bizarre references to the Iraq war.
Huitzilopochtli said he often records Minutemen embarrassing themselves in public and then puts the film on YouTube. When he turns on his camera, they tend to shine, he said.
"Once I'm there, they can't help themselves," he said. "They'll start going off and then the racial slurs start flying."
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He replayed a video shot from earlier that day. The video featured a group of white-haired little old ladies, grimacing like they just ate one of the nasty candies they surely stockpile at home.
"D-Port, D-Port, D-Port," they chanted while mugging for the camera.
Huitzilopochtli explained that these ladies had dispersed prior to the rally's 3 p.m. scheduled start time. He said they were probably now on the fringes of the parade filming it for their anti-immigrant website. They use the imagery of the demonstrators waving the Mexican flag to make their point.
"I don't blame them," he said. "They need their propaganda."