As far as those fighting to defeat Farmers Branch's immigrant-related measure are concerned, the immigrant-rights rally at City Hall yesterday couldn't have come at a better time. Late last week, the face-off between supporters and opponents of the measure, which would ban apartments from renting to most illegal immigrants, took a nasty turn when Latinos accused the measure's supporters of stalking them as they campaigned, and the Support Farmers Branch folks accused the immigrant-rights camp of stealing their campaign signs.
Lawyer and Mega Movement organizer Domingo Garcia even slapped Tom Bohmier, one of the Support Farmers Branch leaders, with a restraining order and won. The district court order prohibits Bohmier -- also known as "Boomer" -- and his organization from "stalking, harassing, shadowing, or tailgating" members of the League of United Latin American Citizens, as well as "making any harassing, rude or hateful communication." Activist Elizabeth Villafranca claimed Bohmier had followed her and her 7-year-old daughter throughout the day last week while she campaigned, and Bohmier in turn accused her of stealing his group's yard signs.
Villafranca said Sunday's rally was a show of support for causes such as hers in Farmers Branch. "This is just more confirmation that we are not alone," she told Unfair Park outside City Hall, amidst live salsa music, signs demanding justice and American flags. "This is a message that we're united, and they can pass all the measures they want, but it's not going to solve the problem of illegal immigration. What we need is immigration reform."
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Across the street, a small group of counterprotestors held their own signs -- some reading, "No way, Jose" and "America is for Americans." We're guessing that as the May election in Farmers Branch gets closer, things just might get uglier. If such a thing is possible. --Megan Feldman