This weekend, Shawna Forde, 41, leader of the Minuteman American Defense (M.A.D.) group and two of her associates were arrested in connection with the murder of a 9-year-old girl, Brisenia Flores, and her father, Raul, in Arivaca, AZ. Local police are reporting that Forde and her posse broke into the Flores home dressed as law enforcement officers looking for money and drugs to finance her border watch group with the intention of leaving no witnesses behind.
Much like Jim Gilchrist’s Minuteman Project and Chris Simcox’s Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, Forde’s group is an extreme nativist organization made up of volunteer border vigilantes. M.A.D. has gone into damage control, posting a statement expressing condolences for the Flores family and distancing itself from Forde’s violent crime. Yet directly below its offering of “deepest regrets,” the website boasts a message from Shawna Forde, Executive Director:
“I would like to let everyone know that we are in full operation we have people coming from Florida and other parts of the country to assist in gathering exclusive footage of drug cartel drug smuggling and humane trafficking…We will expose and report what we know and find, we will recruit the serious and train the revolutionist, time for words have passed the time for bravery and conviction are now. I shall lead you to challenge yourself and your American heart into the future of what was once a great country and will be again but at what price?“
Other border vigilante groups are disassociating themselves from Forde and M.A.D. However, the Anti-Defamation League points out that many of them have publicly supported her anti-immigrant statements in the past. On three different occasions, Forde claimed to have been shot, raped, and beaten by Spanish-speaking assailants. Most inside her own anti-immigrant community questioned her credibility and accused her of faking the attack, but some, like Minuteman Project Executive Director Stephen Eichler stood by her, saying:
“I believe what I have been told, and the reports I have read in the newspaper, to be factual and accurate…I may be called gullible, sucker, and naïve, but it is of little consequence to me if I am right and the victims were comforted.”
Laine Lawless, an anti-immigration activist who started the group Border Guardians, praised Forde’s border activities and argued that Forde’s alleged attack was “obvious proof that the reach of the Mexican cartels extends way beyond the borders of Mexico deep into the United States.” After the Flores family murder, Minuteman in-fighting has lead the San Diego Minuteman to blame The Minuteman Project’s Jim Gilchrist for continuing to support Forde, who served as Gilchrist’s 2008-2009 Border Director, “despite warnings.”
Finger pointing aside, what all of these groups have in common is that they target individual immigrants rather than immigration policies. Their mission and rhetoric consistently fits the description of “rightwing extremist groups” that the DHS report warned have “the potential to incite individuals or small groups toward violence” in part due to pent-up “frustration over a perceived lack of government action on illegal immigration.” Forde’s alleged murder comes shortly after a white supremacist shooting rampage in Pittsburgh, an abortion doctor murder in Kansas, and a racially-motivated shooting at the Holocaust Museum that have caused some to “herald a disturbing surge in U.S. hate crimes.”
America’s Voice has posted a new video of Forde speaking on behalf of the anti-immigrant organization, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). In it, Forde addresses a 2006 townhall in Yakima, Washington, as a Minuteman and FAIR activist.
Michael Lafferty writes:
And now, the trigger-man who allegedly acted at her direction and killed both victims, will face a DNA-matched second degree murder charge in eastern Washington for the 1997 killing of Hector Lopez Partida, a Hispanic man then living in Wenatchee.
For anyone doing the math, this homicide took place before the self proclaimed Iraq war and ’special forces’ operative joined the US Army. If, in fact, he ever did, or is what he has claimed to be.
How prescient that Department of Homeland Security advisory now seems…