Multi-American | How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Westlake unrest dubbed 'LA Machete Riots' by immigration restriction group

Last Friday in a post about the new Robert Rodriguez action flick "Machete," which opened last Friday, I mentioned how a radio talk-show host had warned his fans on video about the movie prompting a race war. This possibility seemed highly unlikely, given that the film comes off more as cheeky mockery of the immigration debate than anything else. But, I wrote, if we awoke over the holiday weekend to looters and torch-wielding mobs, perhaps it would go down in history as the Machete Riots.

Now, a conservative immigration-restriction group in North Carolina is applying that exact term to the recent protests, at times violent, over last weekend's fatal police shooting of a Guatemalan day laborer in Los Angeles' Westlake district.

Here's part of what the Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, or ALIPAC, has on its website today under the heading, "Update on the LA Machete Riots:"

Especially having a movie like Robert Rodriguez's MACHETE showing in over 3,000 movie theaters in America, we must be on guard for possible massive civil unrest. The movie Machete is an expensive, anti-American, propaganda film masquerading as satire. The movie depicts illegal aliens killing Americans who they believe are deserving of death because of their racism and violence towards Hispanics. While a film demonizing Americans is broadcast across the land, the remake of the 1980's film Red Dawn has been canceled. Mobs of well armed illegal aliens attacking demonized Americans is promoted while a movie about Americans defending our homeland from invasion by communist forces is canceled. Does everyone understand what is happening here?

The latest illegal alien fueled riots in Los Angeles began three days after MACHETE was released nationally, depicting an army of illegals violently rising up against American oppressors. If the unrest in Los Angeles continues or spreads, ALIPAC will publicly demand that Machete be withdrawn from theaters.

For those not familiar with the film, which stars Danny Trejo, the plot goes something like this: A former Mexican cop who has fled the drug cartels, and now works as a day laborer in Texas, is hired to assassinate an anti-immigrant senator (played by Robert De Niro). The assassination goes awry and all hell breaks loose, with much splatter and special effects.

The film, which pokes fun at itself all along, is set against the tense political backdrop of the immigration debate, and inside jokes abound (director Rodriguez jokingly labeled  it as “Mexploitation”). In May, radio talk-show host Alex Jones announced that the film would likely "trigger racial riots and racial killings in the United States.” The video made the rounds online, prompting more speculation and other videos.

The "Machete Riots" that ALIPAC refers to, of course, involve the continuing protests that began in response to the Sunday death of Manuel Jamines, a 37-year-old Guatemalan immigrant who had allegedly been drinking and wielding a knife when he was shot by police officers.

A protest Tuesday night outside the Los Angeles Police Department's Rampart Division station in Westlake turned violent, with eggs, bottles and other projectiles thrown at officers and trash cans set on fire, and police firing non-lethal projectiles into the crowd. Several people were injured, including officers, and several others were arrested. Last night at a community meeting held to address the shooting, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck was heckled and booed by attendees, and another angry demonstration followed.

But I wonder, among the participants in the protests and in last night's meeting, how many have actually seen "Machete?" I would say few. Movie tickets cost ten dollars on average, if not more, and Westlake, along with its environs, is one of the poorest communities in the central city.