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Minuteman Group Meets in Kansas City

By Sylvia Maria Gross

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/kcur/local-kcur-672367.mp3

KANSAS CITY, MO – Members of a group that opposes illegal immigration are gathering in midtown Kansas City this evening for a regional conference. Leaders of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps decided to hold their first regional conference here after the mayor appointed a member of the group, Frances Semler, to the parks board. Semler resigned from that position last week, in part because the mayor asked her not to participate in this conference.

Kansas and Missouri chapter leader Ed Hayes says he expects about 300 people to attend. Friday evening will be an information session for the public and Saturday will be a member's only training. Minuteman groups at the border try to stop people from coming to the country illegally. In non-border states, the Minutemen target places where they believe illegal immigrants work.

"It's not about skin color or any race despite what they say. It's about illegal aliens," Hayes said.

Devin Burghart of Chicago's Center for New Community says these are the tactics of hate groups.

"When individuals with a clear political agenda decide that they want to practice law enforcement for themselves, that kind of volatility can only breed conflict and danger," Burghart said.

A coalition of civil rights and church groups plan to rally outside the Uptown Theater a few hours before the conference begins. Neither group expects a confrontation.

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