One response to the appearance of children fleeing violence has been the reemergence of the Minutemen, aka the militia-style armed groups which take it upon themselves to patrol the border, which largely disappeared a few years ago after a number of incredibly unsavory events.
The thing about the Minutemen groups is that they tend to attract all sorts of highly questionable characters. Here’s a short list:
- In July, Chris Davis of Operation Secure Our Border-Laredo Sector, posted a YouTube announcing a plan to stop migrants from coming into Texas: “You see an illegal, you point your gun right dead at them, right between the eyes, and say, ‘Get back across the border, or you will be shot.”
- Last August, Richard Malley of the Arizona Special Operations Group, was arrested on charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after aiming his gun at an Arizona deputy whom Malley was convinced was a member of a drug cartel. Malley refused to put down his gun even after the deputy pointed to his badge. Even Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a longtime ally of the Minutemen, had no defense for that, telling the Associated Press, “If they continue this there could be some dead militia out there. He’s lucky he didn’t see 30 rounds fired into him.”
- In 2013, Chris Simcox, a founder of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, was charged with six counts of child molestation. His wife had filed a petition for a protective, saying Simcox had twice threatened to kill his family.
- JT Ready, a neo-Nazi and another founder of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corp, in 2012 killed himself, his girlfriend, and three of her family members in Arizona. At the time of his death, Ready was the subject of an FBI domestic terrorism investigation in connection with the deaths of a number of migrants whose bodies had been found in the Arizona desert.
- Shawna Forde founded the Minutemen American Defense and is known for her horrific armed robbery of Raul Flores’ Arizona home, in which she murdered Flores and his 9-year-old daughter, Brisenia. Forde was so twisted that she boasted about the murders on the Minutemen Project website, saying she had “boots on the ground” and writing “A American family was murdered 2 days ago including a 9 year old girl. Territory issue’s are now spilling over like fire on the US side and leaving Americans so afraid they will not even allow their names to be printed in any press releases.”
- Forde’s accomplice in the murders and cofounder of the Minutemen American Defense, Jason Bush, was charged with the murder of a Latino man in Washington state in 1997 and in the murder of an Aryan Nations member he considered to be a “race-traitor.”
According to Mother Jones this week, Minutemen groups are having considerable difficulty re-banding, partly because of their ugly history and partly because of the enormous complications of patrolling a 2,000-mile long border. It’s no wonder then that Jim Gilchrist, co-founder of the Minutemen Project, has been on something of a public relations spree, insisting that people like Forde and Simcox were never Minutemen leaders, but fringe radicals. Gilchrist denied his connections with Forde and Simcox on a recent interview with Newsmax (h/t David Neiwert via Crooks and Liars):
GILCHRIST: Yes, there have been a couple of incidents of some very serious embarrassment, uh –– this conduct was not committed by anyone within the Minuteman Project but in rogue groups that used the Minuteman movement as a veil, essentially, to carry out sinister and criminal activities…
GILCHRIST: They weren’t card-carrying members of the Minuteman Project. We don’t have card-carrying members. We have anyone who agrees that we should be a nation governed by laws, not mob rule, that mob being 30 million illegal aliens, is an honorary member of the Minuteman Project. That gives me 280 million members. Not all of them agree with me, but I look at the movement itself as having 280 million members out of the 310 million population, who want our immigration laws enforced.
Shawna Forde was an associate of Gilchrist’s beginning in the spring of 2007, culminating in February of 2008, when he named Forde his “director of border operations.” Gilchrist’s Minuteman Project site avidly promoted Forde’s operations –– conducted under the name of her own group, “Minuteman American Defense” –– and he defended her from critics within the nativist anti-immigrant movement…
Forde kept in touch with Gilchrist and subsequently arranged for him to make an appearance in February 2008 at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, about a hundred-mile drive from Seattle. Gilchrist at the time was embroiled in heated lawsuits and disputes with his former board of directors over ownership of the Minuteman Project, and he no longer had any functioning presence on the borders; Forde offered to step up and take on the job. Gilchrist became so enamored of Forde that, on February 9, he directed his staff to “put Shawna in the website as our border patrol coordinator.”
This incredibly troubling history of the Minutemen is probably why Gilchrist underlined one key stipulation in his recent call for civilian border patrols in 2015:
It is only by one rule that I would expect people to present themselves and participate, and that one simple rule is: Whatever you do, you stay within the rule of law. And there are no exceptions.
Of course, as David Neiwert points out, Shawna Forde, too, regularly preached about “the rule of law,” and how the “illegal alien invasion” was a slap in its face. She even placed the words “Rule of Law” at the center of the logo she had designed for her MAD website.
And look how that turned out.