After months of inactivity, it appears the Black American Leadership Alliance (BALA) is gearing up for a new event which bears a striking resemblance to last year’s “DC March for Jobs.” This time BALA’s anti-immigrant revelry will be moving south for the “AGA Miami March for Jobs” on May 3.
Utilizing messaging and marketing materials decidedly similar to that of last summer’s D.C. march, BALA is now collecting donations for the Miami event and attempting to once again pit communities of color against each other by deriding immigrants as the source of the country’s economic issues – specifically unemployment.
BALA slipped into relative obscurity last October after it attempted to follow last year’s D.C. march with the ill-fated “We Are America Tour” events — which were mostly poorly attended and, in one case, marred by participants assaulting a local videographer. Signs indicating BALA’s new efforts first appeared several weeks ago when Facebook and Twitter accounts were created to promote the Miami event. Anti-immigrant groups including the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) promoted the accounts, and the event’s following online has increased modestly in recent weeks.
The AGA Miami March for Jobs’ web presence is largely the work of Tea Party activist Tim Selaty Sr. Selaty is the registered administrative contact for the Miami march’s website and his company, Political Innovations LLC, is credited with building the site. Political Innovations also built websites for both BALA and the DC March for Jobs last summer. The involvement of anti-immigrant front group Progressives for Immigration Reform (PFIR), of which BALA founder Leah Durant is the executive director, doesn’t seem too far off. Several of the initial 20 people to “Like” the Miami March for Jobs’ Facebook page appear to be associates of Durant’s. Additionally, a friend of PFIR Communications Specialist Phillip Mike curiously posted “test” on the Miami event’s Facebook page shortly after it was created.
More troublesome than the predictable involvement of established anti-immigrant groups with the Miami march is that of another apparent organizer and“black conservative” named Maurice Woodside. Beginning in the 1980s, Woodside was a follower of Yahweh ben Yahweh — a Florida cult leader who was indicted and later convicted of conspiring to murder 14 people. Woodside was also indicted in connection to murders carried out by the Yahweh cult, but avoided conviction.
In the early 2000s Woodside began making a name for himself in conservative circles by broadcasting his political rants via a pirate radio station at his home and making outrageous public displays like disrupting an Obama 2008 campaign stop with chants and signs reading, “Obama endorsed by the KKK.” Woodside also asserted Democrats are “slave masters” and “Nazis” at a Rick Santorum campaign event in 2012.
“The Democrats, they’re the worst thing that ever happened to the black man. They’re the slave masters,” he told the crowd at the Santorum event. “Let’s get back to our original roots: the Republican party, the freers of the black man.”
In January, Woodside posted a bizarre video online featuring clips of himself with many of the performing artists announcing their intent to appear at the Miami event. Most of the artists also appear on the event’s official website confirming their participation. Woodside posted the video on a website of his advertising the “American Gala Awards 2014 March for Jobs” – which has ostensibly been renamed “AGA Miami March for Jobs” as it appears elsewhere on the Internet. Since then, Woodside has been regularly hosting “jet ski parties” at his Miami property where he gives away cash prizes and chances to perform at the upcoming March for Jobs.
In 2010, a similar waterfront event resulted in Woodside’s son being charged with shooting at two teenagers with an AK-47.
This is not BALA’s first appeal to far-Right activists. While it certainly hindered any semblance of meaningful bipartisanship within BALA’s anti-immigrant coalition, it was a necessity for BALA to appeal to Tea Party groups in order for last summer’s D.C. march to be even marginally successful. Last year that resulted in nativist remarks from Ken Crow’s praising the crowd’s “incredible DNA” from the event stage. With far-Right firebrand Woodside’s involvement in the upcoming Miami event, similar instances are sure to occur.
The anti-immigrant movement’s efforts to divide communities with groups like BALA and “march for jobs”-style events do little more than unfairly blame immigrants for the country’s economic problems and foment community tensions. Tea Party activists and far-Right extremists have increasingly become the only parties receptive to this nativist agenda. By catering to these interests to create the appearance of broad populist support, the anti-immigrant movement only further exposes its own lack of credibility.