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Old 09-01-2006, 06:03 PM
JackSparrow JackSparrow is offline
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Default Historical Video: First Youtube Video to Launch Street Protest

Historical Video: First Youtube Video to Launch Street Protest

A Trip to Bustamante's Latino Bookstore Palm Springs, Ca


Protesters: Video is anti-Latino, hateful


PALM SPRINGS: The march starts at a church and ends at the offices of Rep. Mary Bono.

10:00 PM PDT on Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Press-Enterprise

About 100 people marched through downtown Palm Springs on Thursday night to demonstrate against what protesters said was anti-Latino hate speech and intimidation at a store that sells Latino books and crafts.

Two men entered Latino Books y Mas in Palm Springs on July 5 with video cameras and confronted the principal owner of the store, Tonia Bustamante-Ramirez, because she sells books and posters featuring Mexican revolutionary heroes Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata, and Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara.

Bustamante-Ramirez said the two men's remarks and questions were intimidating, and the video was posted two days later on the Web site YouTube, on which users can post self-made videos. As of Thursday afternoon, nearly 1,400 people had viewed at least part of the video, which is nearly seven minutes long.

Bustamante-Ramirez said she was so traumatized by the incident that she did not return to the store until Thursday night. Her husband had opened the shop twice for a few hours since July 5, but otherwise it had remained closed, she said.

"I fear for my safety," she said.

Bustamante-Ramirez said she is planning to install a surveillance camera and reopen the store within the next few days, with her daughter accompanying her while she is in the store for protection.

The march started at Our Lady of Solitude Catholic Church, stopped briefly at the bookstore and ended outside the offices of Rep. Mary Bono, R-Palm Springs. Protesters clutching white balloons shouted "Mary Bono out" and its Spanish-language equivalent, "Fuera Mary Bono."

Mario Lazcano, an organizer of the march, said in Spanish that Bono was targeted because her co-sponsorship of legislation that would criminalize undocumented immigrants "unleashed" an atmosphere that made the incident at the bookstore more likely.

Bono's Democratic opponent in the November elections, David Roth, spoke to the crowd at the church and marched part of the way. He said he participated because "politics in my mind is about bringing together our communities, not sowing hate as my opponent has done, not dividing people as my opponent has done."

Jason Vasquez, spokesman for Bono, could not be reached in Washington, D.C., late Thursday to respond to Roth's allegation. Earlier on Thursday, he declined to respond to Lazcano's comments, except to say, "The congresswoman always welcomes the opinions of her constituents."

Several protesters called on Palm Springs police to investigate the bookstore occurrence as a "hate crime." Sgt. Mitch Spike said police looked into the matter and determined that, although the incident was "unfortunate," no law was broken.

Brian Levin, an attorney who directs the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State San Bernardino, saw the video and called the comments made at the store legally protected "hate speech." He said posting the video on YouTube can help spur debate.

"It's a high-tech version of the town square," he said of YouTube.

Barbara O'Connor, director of the Institute for the Study of Politics and the Media at Sacramento state, agreed, pointing to the "comments and responses" section below each video.

"Anything that fosters dialogue is probably a good thing in politics," she said.

Reach David Olson at 760-837-4411 or dolson@PE.com


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