ATLANTA – Anti-illegal immigrant protesters exchanged angry words with counter-protesters Tuesday night when members of the Minutemen Project brought their cross-country caravan to the state Capitol.
Minutemen leaders began their tour last week en route from the Los Angeles to Washington, where they plan to try to influence lawmakers to pass tougher immigration laws.
The caravan began with eight vehicles. There were 30 when it pulled into Atlanta.
A crowd of about 50 supporters, some with signs containing slogans such as "Secure our Borders," cheered when Minutemen Project founder James Gilchrist shouted out "You will not conquer the United States of America."
"You, you invaders — you illegals," Gilchrist boomed into the microphone, as a smaller group of immigrant supporters rallied across the street.
One of them, Adam Levenstein, told Atlanta's WAGA-TV that they were there "to support the little guy."
"We're here to support the rights of immigrant workers, people who don't have much, who come here seeking a better life," Levenstein said.
The Minutemen urged their supporters to join them in the trip to the nation's capital, where they expect to arrive on Friday.
Mike Cannizaro told the television station that he could not go to Washington, but he would take a week off this summer to travel to the Mexican border to help the Minutemen patrol.
"I think it's important that every American who believes that we need to secure our borders do something to stop this," Cannizaro said.
Minutemen organizers said their trip is in response to marches staged last Monday around the nation by more than 1 million people demanding amnesty for illegal immigrants.
According to the Minutemen Web site, the caravan also is scheduled to stop in Greensboro, N.C., and Richmond, Va., before arriving in Washington.