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|5/16 Upland, CA: Upland restaurant clashes with Minuteman project members
Released 27 May 2009  By Sandra Emerson - Whittier Daily News
Upland restaurant clashes with Minuteman project members
Sandra Emerson, Whittier Daily News
UPLAND - A group of Minuteman Project members complained to city officials after a recent argument with an Upland business owner and police over a Cinco de Mayo celebration.
The group held American flag rallies May 5 to encourage people to celebrate the Fourth of July or other significant days in American history rather than Cinco De Mayo.
After seeing a large Cinco De Mayo sign outside Graziano's Italian Restaurant and Bar, the group decided to take a photo with their flags next to the sign.
The incident resulted in a yelling match involving the Minutemen, the restaurant owner and employees, who called the Police Department.
"We found it ironic that eight moms and dads holding American flags on a public sidewalk - the police were called in and we were told to give our names and would be subject to arrest," said Robin Hvidston, a member of the Minuteman Project, at Monday's City Council meeting.
"We felt in Upland a day laborer has more rights than an American citizen on a public sidewalk holding an American flag."
Before taking the photos, the group went into the restaurant to speak with the owner and give him a pamphlet on the American flag.
"Basically they were insinuating that I was un-American, and I was assuring them that I have every right to conduct my business the way I see fit," said Danny Guida, owner of Graziano's. "They were very demanding and aggressive in their tactics and disrupting my whole front lobby."
The group was asked to leave, but a confrontation began when the owner saw they were taking photos next to his sign.
"My main point was to ask if that was the way they felt about small business and the free market, and they didn't have an answer for me," Guida said.
"That was the main objective I wanted to get across."
Police made a report, but no one wanted to press charges, police Sgt. Cliff Mathews said.
The purpose of the flag rallies on Cinco De Mayo was to make residents aware of the insignificance of the holiday to the people of Mexico, said Raymond Herrera, a member of the Minuteman Project.
"In Mexico they don't even celebrate Cinco De Mayo, but here it is a beck and call to have beer-drinking parties all over America and make the American people believe there is significance to it - that it's the liberation of the people of Mexico, and it is not even anything close to that," Herrera said.
"Obviously, Graziano's has freedom of speech and obviously in our country we can display signs and utilize freedom of speech allowing both of us to go forward and express our view points," Hvidston said. "In retrospect, if we had known officers would be called to the scene we absolutely would not have taken the photo."
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