Anti-immigration Activists Arrested for Murder

briseniaOn May 30th, a group of armed men and one woman shot and killed Brisenia Flores and her father in Arivaca, AZ. They kicked in the door to the family’s home and murdered the 9-year old and her father Raul Flores, injuring Brisenia’s mother. Though media has reported that the motivation behind the crime “is not clear”, what is glaringly clear is the hate behind it.

Jason Bush, Shawna Forde, and Albert Gaxiola have all been charged with two counts of first-degree murder. Each of the accused belongs to the MinuteMen American Defense, a group of vigilante anti-immigrants who have dehumanized immigrants (and Latinos) to the point that they have no trouble shooting a 9-year old in cold blood.

Even more damning (though not shocking) is the video that has surfaced which links Shawna Forde, the ringleader of the operation, to the anti-immigration hate group FAIR. Check out the video below, to see Shawna Forde speaking at a Town Hall in Yakima, Washington as an “activist” for FAIR. (h/t to America’s Voice for breaking this.)

I’ve written extensively on FAIR – classified as a Hate Group by the Southern Poverty Law Center – which claims to be a mainstream “think tank” in favor of  “immigration reform”, though it has been made apparent that their agenda is far more extreme. Hopefully this type of exposure will help mainstream media outlets apply stricter rules about who quote as “reliable sources” on immigration.

While some might see this as an isolated and tragic incident, those of us who track the broader narrative of hate and violence in this country know that Brisenia’s family is only the latest in a long, bloody history of anti-immigrant fervor that has seeped from the extreme fringes into the mainstream of America.

Jill Garvey, from Imagine 2050 writes:

This is part of a larger increase in violence by individuals associated with racist groups; a direct result of the acceptance of racist, anti-immigrant rhetoric used in mainstream media.

Jill also does a great job  of connecting the dots between groups like the MinuteMen and groups like NumbersUSA, who are quoted on the Minutemen’s website and mainstream media personalities like Glenn Beck and Lou Dobbs (also cited on Minutemen’s webpage). While most anti-immigrant groups will do their best to distance themselves from Shawna Forde and her gang of vigilante child-killers, the truth is, they are all connected.

I have to say, I’ve seen a lot about this heinous crime on the blogosphere today and have yet to see anybody tie it into the recent Holocaust shootings here in DC. While, obviously, the contexts and the players are different, I think that both point to examples of how extremist views work to make certain groups less than human, and therefore, disposable. The Department of Homeland Security warned about this recently, but too many anti’s on the Right wanted to use the moment to bash Janet Napolitano and the report was swept under the rug.

It is now our work to make sure the Brisenia and her father, and the countless others who have died as a result of ignorance, bigotry and misguided fear, have not suffered in vain. We must continue to speak out about how hate speech, of any kind, feeds the fuel for crimes like these. We must continue to deconstruct the connection between brown, criminal, illegal and immigrant. And, most importantly, we must continue to raise up the stories that the mainstream media refuses to cover – in order to show the American public exactly what we are fighting against – hate.

Below is a roundup of coverage on the murder of Brisenia and Raul Flores. As always, the pro-migrant blogosphere is fighting the good fight.

The Sanctuary – Flores por Brisenia

Imagine 2050 – MinuteMen Members Murder Nine Year old and Father

Immigration Talk with a Mexican American – Brisenia Flores: The Beautiful Latina Child the Minutemen Murdered!

VivirLatino – Brisenia Flores: Nuestra Hija

Una Gran Tristeza – A round up at Citizen Orange

Crooks and Liars – When the Minutemen go “tactical” for Dollars

15 responses to “Anti-immigration Activists Arrested for Murder

  1. Robert Gittelson

    I’m very supportive of Rachel for bringing up this discussion. The subjects of racism, and especially extremism are uncomfortable to discuss, and so they get swept under the rug, (as was the Napolitano report, as Rachel said). The fact is that I too want to have this topic brought out into the light of day. Why were the recent hate murders of the abortion doctor, and the security guard at the Holocaust Museum, (both heinous crimes), discussed in the mainstream news for days on end, and yet the even more heinous crime of the double homicide of these Latino victims, including a child, was barely mentioned, if at all? This crime was clearly a hate crime, since the murderers were active anti-Latino / anti-immigrant hatemongers, and proud of it. Why aren’t we, as a nation, acknowledging this escalation of violent hate acts, and bringing the topic out into the open for discussion? I’m certainly alarmed, and I suspect that most other people are too.

    The fact is that despite the positive signal to the world that the election of our first President of color says about us, we still have much work to do here on issues of equality, racism, and the full assimilation and integration of our society.

    Last year, during the Presidential primaries, I wrote an article, “Living In Denial: The Unspoken Obstacle Preventing Amnesty.” In this article, which was about the subject of racism, I wrote, “The familiar will always be more comfortable then the unfamiliar, or even the less familiar. How else could one explain the phenomenon of how intelligent and predominately fair minded Americans have been voting in very measurable ways along racial and/or gender lines in this Presidential primary season. In many of the state primaries, we’ve seen 80-90% of black voters voting for Obama, while a similarly skewed ratio of female voters have voted for Hilary Clinton in the same races. The issues were primarily the same, as were the stances of the candidates on those issues. However, while the vast majority of the democrats who voted in those primaries agreed with the stances of both candidates on the issues that mattered to them, the blacks voted for the black candidate, and the women voted for the woman candidate. That is in no way coincidental. It is racial or gender bias that is measurable and very real. Therefore, we have to “out” this dirty little secret that is actually not a secret to anyone. Let’s all fess up. To some degree or another, we pretty much all have biases or prejudices. That, in and of itself, doesn’t make us bad or evil. On the other hand, to ignore our biases without addressing them or working through them to get past them makes us complicit, and that is bad.”

    I have to give the President a lot of credit, for bring up the subject of racism, and for his wonderful and heartfelt speech on this topic. However, it seems to me that in order for us to get past the issue of racism, once and for all, (which is probably next to impossible), we need to start with an open dialogue. It will be an uncomfortable conversation, but through participating in this discussion, we will emerge a stronger and more tolerant nation.

    Certainly, in order for us to achieve any true measure of equality and integration, we must pass CIR. While the issues of homeland security and the rule of law will benefit from CIR, the most lasting legacy of CIR might have to do with the societal values that CIR will bring to our nation. We cannot continue on a pathway that allows a segregated two-tier society that has 300 million people living within our constitutional rights and protections, and another 12 – 20 million living without those constitutional protections and rights. How can we expect equality when the law doesn’t treat us as equals?

  2. I have noted that internet plays an important role in controlling crimes by creating awareness.

  3. Vicente Duque

    Thanks for this important and necessary article that you posted here.

    It is necessary to create awareness.

    If a Latino Drunk Driver kills a child with his car then that would be in the Top News Cycles for many days or weeks. And given extraordinary prominence and valuable space in the Media.

    But if Brienia Flores is killed by Prominent Members of a Racist Organization ( the Minutemen ) then the news are ignored by the Big Media.

    These murderers are also prominent in other Racist Organizations like FAIR, or “America’s Voice TV” that posted this video in YouTube.

    That is why so necessary to create Awareness against Racist Organizations and Murder.

    Some People master the art of “Guilt by Association”, they have always applied it to Mr. Obama, even if Reverend Wright has not killed any child.

    Vicente Duque

  4. Numbers USA isNOT a hate group and you are absolutely incorrect to state that they are. Present one citation of so-called hate or racism that has come from tehm. La Raza and Mecha & Aztlan have numerous quotation that spurn/scorn whitey and that’s ok……The so-called spokespeople for open borders can freely denigrate anyone that does not wish to permit the illegal infiltration of a neighboring country(USA)…..this is, in no way, objective fact-based journalism. It is: wacko propoganda shamlessly exploiting a terrible incident. Jill Garvey is not accurate and only seeks to inflame a mainly non-existent cloud over those that she hopes to ad hoc call and relegate to hatemongers.

    Has anyone looked at how coyotes abuse, kill and exploit “immigrants”, or in you world are only gringos the bogeymen?

    I call this highly selective “guilt by association” and the authors really do not care much for the slain much but have latched on to a real juicy subject to justify throwing the 70% of US citizens that DO NOT support open borders and casually throw them under the bus. Learn some journalism tools that do not exploit the subjects of your piece and the readers.

  5. I never stated NumbersUSA was a hate group, rather that FAIR (who does have connections to NumbersUSA) has been classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. For more on this, visit here:

    Also, I find it highly offensive that you claim I really “do not care much” about the young girl and her father who were killed. You have no idea what my internal thought-process has been on this. Rather than picking up on a “juicy” story line, I am working to open the eyes of the American public who continue to tolerate hate in the mainstream media. I want to work against the forces that somehow make it ok for ANYONE to kill a 9 year old child, who was targeted because of her ethnicity or assumed legal status. And I do not find ANYTHING selective about the fact that the woman arrested in these slayings was an advocate who spoke on behalf of FAIR. There is nothing selective about that connection – it is a fact.

    If you would like to engage me through this blog, please keep your comments civil and do not sling mud when you don’t have all the facts or are misquoting me.

    Thank you.

  6. PS – I am a gringa myself and do not think that only “gringos” are “bogeymen”. As for coyotes who exploit immigrants – we are working to reform a system so that people no longer have to use desperate measures like coyotes in order to enter the country.

  7. You seem to connect dots where few or none exist to support your premise; which is: anti immigrant groups are Racist Organizations that murder children….Also, you did not actually address La Raza and Mecha & Aztlan’s published highly racist quotations.

    So, Ms. Garvey stated:

    “Jill also does a great job of connecting the dots between groups like the MinuteMen and groups like NumbersUSA” ….
    What/which dots are you speaking about? Ones that boost your bias and claims against FAIR due to the heinous acts of three persons?

    Your defensive reply and advocacy for open borders demonstate that you will espouse any rhetoric to confuse factual events or issues.

    Your replies are misleading, shrill and overbearing. Your by-line is a veil of extremely selective recriminations. I did not claim, even remotely, to know your internal thought-process; only what you state in your sweeping generalities and conclusions/ommission in your post.

  8. gabriellanoel

    We need to educate and make as many people as possible aware about the murder of this poor 9 year old child. I do not understand our media and why the do not expose this crime nationwide. The lack of media exposure is a mystery to all of us but if they do not want it in the mainstream then it is up to us to make sure that as many people in the US learns the truth about what is happening in our country. I am also a gringa and as well as coyotes that exploit immigrants we need to look at employers, landlords and our detention system that has been also exploiting immigrants nationwide. It is time to mobilize and get on out there and spread the truth around.

  9. for more on the contours of the nativist movement, and its connections to prominent figures at the federal level, you can go to Chicago’s Center for New Communities. they’ve written an extensive report on the House caucus called HIRC and its problematic relationship with the nativist group FAIR.

    you can find it here:

    at that same link you will also find a ‘family tree’ of sorts for FAIR, showing its relationships with other groups. if we look at how ideology is shared, it’s not inaccurate to say that a group affiliated with FAIR should be looked at aslant.

  10. And if you read that family tree, you will see that Numbers USA was created by, and is directly funded by, FAIR.

  11. Robert Gittelson

    There were several troubling comments that were made by vidaloca. I feel that Rachel did a good job of defending the purity of her motives, and only the most craven and paranoid among us could possibly think otherwise. Therefore, I will address points in vidaloca’s commentary that are just flat wrong and misguided. First, she defends NumbersUSA, and defies anyone to document any evidence that they are, in fact, a hate group. I reference below a citation from the Southern Poverty Law Center regarding NumbersUSA and their President, Roy Beck, in the SPLC article from 2/09 regarding the Nativist Lobby, and NumbersUSA in particular:

    “The truth is that Beck, (Note: Roy Beck is the Head of NumbersUSA), was an employee, as Tanton, (Note: John Tanton, the racist founder of many of the nation’s key nativist groups), has often written, of Tanton’s U.S. Inc. for 10 years. He was one of the editors for Tanton’s immigrant-bashing publication, The Social Contract, and helped edit a book by Tanton and another U.S. Inc. employee, white supremacist Wayne Lutton. He and his wife vacationed with Tanton, a man who calls the Becks “dear friends,” and he once developed a program with Tanton that targeted Republicans for recruitment to the nativist cause. At one point, in fact, Tanton named Beck his “heir apparent,” with Beck’s consent. As recently as last year, Beck was an invited speaker at Tanton’s Social Contract conference. Clearly, the two men had “shared ideas,” and often.”

    As to vidaloca’s assertion that 70% of US Citizens do not support open borders, I think that if one takes her comment at face value, she probably understates that number. I’m sure that almost everyone is against open borders. I actually only know of one advocate for CIR that does support open borders, and that was in strictly academic terms. The fact is that the Restrictionists bandy about the term “open borders” because it sounds, well, stupid and terrifying. Nobody that supports COMPREHENSIVE Immigration Reform wants open borders. The comprehensive part of CIR assures tighter borders. This is just another example of Nativist propaganda. They call CIR advocates the “open border lobby,” when ironically, it is the Restrictionist contingent that continues to attempt to block CIR legislation, and are therefore by default keeping our borders “open” and unsafe. What a crock.

    On the other hand, if what vidaloca is trying to say is that 70% of citizens are against CIR, (which I think that she is trying to say, using Nativist-speak), then she has it exactly opposite. Polls suggest that about 70% of US citizens are for CIR. Vidaloca should be careful about who she associates herself and her ideals with. Remember the old saying, “if you lay down with dogs, you wake up with fleas.”

  12. For the record, FAIR has never had any association with Ms. Forde. Nor is it fair to suggest that we are responsible for the conduct of everyone who may agree with portions of our positions. The comments here mindlessly slamming FAIR and NumbersUSA are a sad commentary on the state of dialogue in America today. (Numbers is not funded by FAIR, by the way.) The Internet now allows peoplel to lose control and write in an unbalanced manner. I understand that there are people who oppose immigration laws and their enforcement, but lack the courage to admit it. This does not excuse misrepresentation of facts. The woman accused of murder, Ms. Forde, has no association with FAIR, never has and never will (obviously), nor does she herself ever assert any relationship on this TV show in question. The fact that this station blundered and made a mistake will be used gleefully by those that cannot stand an atmosphere of free, open and respectful debate. Let’s keep in our thoughts the poor victims of this crime, and so many others perpetuated by misguided souls. Perhaps it would be better if we would concentrate on how to find durable solutions that everyone can support, instead of an unbalanced approach that guarantees nothing but more of the same. Look at our website,, and make up your own mind on what kind of group we are.
    Dan Stein, President, FAIR

  13. Robert Gittelson

    I would like to commend Dan Stein of F.A.I.R. for weighing into this debate. Clearly, Dan has had a tough week, so I will show restraint, and not attempt to “pile on,” and kick him when he’s down. Seeing as how Dan would like, according to his letter, to promote “an atmosphere of free, open and respectful debate,” I will second that suggestion, and take him at his word. I will not get into details about the murders, because I would like to believe that Dan most certainly does not condone those gruesome acts of violence.

    Rather, I would like to extend something of an olive branch to Mr. Stein. He has his point of view, and a record documenting that point of view that goes back many years. We differ on many things, and no doubt can find issues on which we can agree as well. In that spirit, I would welcome an opportunity to engage him, perhaps here through this blog, or jointly through this blog and the FAIR blog, in the “free, open and respectful debate” that he rightly calls for.

    I would like to note some things that Dan mentions in his letter, that might promote the civil discourse he suggests. He suggests that, “I understand that there are people who oppose immigration laws and their enforcement, but lack the courage to admit it. This does not excuse misrepresentation of facts.” I would respectfully reply that rather than oppose our current immigration laws and their enforcement, I believe that most CIR advocates acknowledge that our current and antiquated immigration laws are not working as intended, and are in urgent need of being updated and enhanced. If done properly, they could be enforced, with real teeth to them. Rather than laking the courage to admit it, we are not only admitting it, but calling at the top of our collective voices to address these laws and change them into enforceable and smart legislation in the best overall interests of our country. Nothing, by the way, excuses misrepresentation of facts, and toward that end, we might try to clarify the facts as we discuss them, if he is willing.

    Dan rightfully suggests in his letter that, “Perhaps it would be better if we would concentrate on how to find durable solutions that everyone can support, instead of an unbalanced approach that guarantees nothing but more of the same.” I couldn’t’t agree more. I would further suggest that, in the spirit of honest representation, and a balanced approach, in the future Dan should tone down the negativity of his “buzzwords,” in his discourse, and on his sight. For example, in his latest blog post on the FAIR site, Dan continues to use the word amnesty as a pejorative, as in “comprehensive immigration reform (mass amnesty if you may).” Nobody that seriously advocates for CIR is calling for a blanket amnesty. The concept of “earned legalization” is very different from amnesty. Dan uses the word “amnesty” because is scares people, and sounds like undocumented immigrants will get off scot-free, which nobody with knowledge of this debate is considering at all. The earned legalization provisions will be harsh, tough, expensive, and long lasting. Many of these immigrants will not qualify because they cannot pass the federal background check. Others will lose their chance through future mistakes, as they will need to stay on the right side of the law for a decade or longer to earn their citizenship. Still others may not be able to afford the costs of going through the process, and will choose to go back to their countries of origin. Therefore, let us at least start the honest dialog with honest words.

    The same can be said of the derogatory term, “open borders crowd,” when speaking of his opponents. Almost everyone that advocates for CIR wants more enforcement as part of the comprehensive package, not less. The subject of open borders is not even on the table. CIR will be primarily an enforcement bill. Again, honest dialog starts with honest representation of each participant’s position, and the pro-CIR position is tighter borders. I guess that you can call the pro-CIR advocates the “tighter borders crowd.” At least that would be a closer representation of our position.

    Certainly, Dan Stein will have a voice in the upcoming CIR debate. So will we. I go back to Dan’s earlier suggestion, that we start a “free, open, and respectful” debate, right here, right now. This way, we can open a dialog with civility, and a free and honest exchange of ideas. Perhaps by doing so now, in this way, we will not have to try to shout over each other when the real heat comes down later this year.

    Perhaps we can start the discussion by comparing and contrasting his organization’s recent article, “Amnesty and the Economy: Myths, Lies, and Obfuscation” and my recent article, “The Centrists Against the Ideologues: What Are the Falsehoods That Divide Americans on the Issue of Comprehensive Immigration Reform?” That would kick things off well, and start the debate rolling.

  14. This murder is despicable. Nativist groups know their in trouble for their affiliation with Shawna Forde. They’re squirming to defend themselves.

  15. Pingback: The story most people haven’t heard: Justice for Brisenia | Politics & Chocolate

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