Minuteman Project Power Struggle

Monday, March 12th 2007, 7:31 pm
By: News On 6

The Minuteman Project fights for immigration reform, but now they're fighting amongst themselves. Last month three high level members tried to kick Jim Gilchrist, the group’s founder, out of the Minuteman Project. News On 6 anchor Omar Villafranca reports now the group known for patrolling the U.S.-Mexican border will head to court to settle the matter.

Wendell Neal is the president of the Tulsa Minuteman Project. He first heard about the power struggle through a series of emails from both warring factions. Since then he hasn't heard a word from the group claiming to have control of the Minuteman.

"None of them have contacted me directly,” said Neal. “And I would think that as a chapter director, of not only the fastest growing but the largest chapter in America, that I would have been contacted directly by one of these individuals."

The Tulsa Minuteman have organized rallies and counter protests urging elected officials to stop illegal immigration. Neal says the fight at the top will not affect his group.

"You're talking about legal issues here. Until someone provides me with legal documentation telling me that Jim Gilchrist is no longer the director of the Minuteman Project, I'm proceeding on as if he is the director,” said Neal.

Gilchrist says the internal power struggle ended with the freezing of the Minuteman's website and bank accounts.

"They thought that their position was a position of authority and power,” said Gilchrist. “And they had a private meeting and decided to vote me off, Steve Eichler and Tim Bueller off the board and take over. A literal hijacking.”

Members accused Gilchrist of shady money transactions, a charge he denies.

"There has been no unaccounted funds, no misapproiated funds, no hidden bank accounts, no hidden websites, no tricks, no gimmicks, none of that,” he said.

Neal says his group will keep fighting to stop the flow of illegal immigrants no matter who's in charge.

"It has to do with the American citizens being tired of illegal immigration,” he said. “Regardless of what happens with this, it's a subject that is not going to go away."

Gilchrist applied for a restraining order against the group that tried to oust him and will head to court later this month. He maintains that he is still the President of the Minuteman.