|Website labels opponents racists||Thursday, January 12, 2006|
|Tyler B. Reed / Daily News Staff||Metrowest Daily News|
FRAMINGHAM -- Three local anti-illegal immigration activists cried foul
yesterday after being pegged as "racists" and "domestic terrorists" on a Web
site sponsored by the League of United Latin American Citizens.
The site -- www.weareracist.com -- shows photos of three Framingham residents during a peaceful, downtown demonstration Saturday that pitted opponents of illegal immigration on one side of the street against immigrant supporters on the other. The names of the three residents were not published with the photos.
Town Meeting member Mal Schulze, who is pictured wearing a U.S. Border Patrol cap, said he is no racist and has merely spoken out his belief that illegal immigrants should be considered criminals.
"Am I against illegal immigration? You bet your bottom dollar I am," he said. "The only thing that troubles me and bothers me are the words that LULAC uses on there. Why are people calling me a racist?"
The other two people pictured on the site are Board of Selectmen candidate Jim Rizoli and Town Meeting member William LaBarge. A fourth man labeled on the site as from Framingham is actually from Ware, Rizoli said.
Rizoli yesterday said LULAC is "absolutely insane" to call him a racist. "We're called everything under the sun, but you get used to it," he said. "We're not the problem. They're the problem. They're the lawbreakers. We're calling for the enforcement of immigration laws."
The Web site’s domain name, weareracist.com, was registered on Dec. 13, 2005, to LULAC, Herndon, Va. A second domain, weareracists.com, was registered a day later by Jorge Trasmonte, who is LULAC’s technology director.
Gabriela Lemus, the director of policy and legislation for LULAC, did not return calls for comment yesterday.
Cesar Monzon, a local Latino activist who served as a national vice president of LULAC in the 1990s, said he is aware of the Web site, but had no involvement with it.
"I guess when you decide to take a public stand on something, people could look at it in a different way," Monzon said when asked his feelings about the characterization of Rizoli, Schulze and LaBarge as racists. "If you are part of the group, don't be surprised if your picture shows up on the national Web site."
Schulze said he first learned about the site over the weekend from Monzon, who is a School Committee member. He said Monzon mentioned it to him when they saw each other at lunchtime at the Columbus Club.
Schulze said he supported Monzon when he ran for School Committee and considered him a friend. "When Cesar Monzon thinks that that's funny, well then maybe my friendship has deceased," he said. "I wouldn't waste my time picking up the phone and talking to him."
LaBarge said he sent an e-mail to Monzon and Laura Medrano of Framingham, president of LULAC’s Northeast chapter, saying he would work to discredit LULAC as long as his picture was on the Web site. "I also said that I would hold the group responsible if any criminal act is taken against me or my property," LaBarge said.
In his e-mail reply, provided to the Daily News by LaBarge, Monzon told LaBarge not to send messages to his private e-mail address again. And he wrote, "Any further communication on your part will constitute harassment and appropriate authorities will be notified."
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