Bloody Aftermath: Following the brutal Arivaca killings, anti-immigrant groups struggle to change the topic
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Shawna Forde never took the stand. Not once did she testify about the May 2009 murders that left Raul Junior Flores and his 9-year-old daughter dead, in their modular home on the outskirts of Arivaca.
Had Forde talked in the February trial that found her guilty of first-degree murder—and ultimately dispatched her to death row—she might have detailed the encouragement she’d received from an anti-immigrant movement that intermittently embraced her, and now can’t distance itself fast enough.
According to witnesses, Forde had planned to rob 29-year-old Junior Flores—whom she believed to be a drug dealer—in order to bankroll her nascent Minutemen American Defense border militia group.
But there was no money, and there were no drugs. There were only the deaths, caused by the delusions of Forde and her accomplices, white supremacist Jason “Gunny” Bush, and a local man with his own grudge against Flores.
But today, anti-immigrant movement leaders are also downplaying those nasty squabbles, even as they struggle to jettison any connection to Shawna Forde.
Among them is William Gheen, who runs the North Carolina-based Americans for Legal Immigration PAC.
Among those closest to Shawna Forde was Jim Gilchrist, who runs a group called the Minuteman Project from Laguna Hills, Calif. Prior to the murders, Gilchrist shared the podium with Forde at various conferences, and described her in online postings as “a stoic struggler.”
Glenn Spencer heads the American Border Patrol, headquartered on the Arizona-Mexico line south of Sierra Vista. Shawna Forde had enjoyed short stays on Spencer’s ranch, and was leaving his compound when she was apprehended by federal agents on murder charges.
“The fact is that they’ve all gone into CYA—cover your own ass—mode,” [Kat] Rodriguez says. But she believes they’re all equally guilty of stoking the demons that drove Shawna Forde. “The anti-immigrant rhetoric, the fervor, the lies that continue to be told … She would not have been able to do those kinds of things, say those kinds of things, get the traction she had, had she not enjoyed this status that was implied by being part of the Minutemen Project.”
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