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In mid-2009, nativist leaders scrambled to distance themselves from Minuteman American Defense (MAD) founder Shawna Forde, after the immigrant-bashing former child prostitute was charged with two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the slaying of an Arizona man and his 9-year old daughter.
Few were as adamant in their repudiations of Forde – who now sits on death row for the murder of Raul and Brisenia Flores – as Minuteman Project (MMP) President Jim Gilchrist. Within hours of the announcement of her arrest, he stripped MMP’s website of its many laudatory references to Forde’s group, extended his “condolences” to the victims and “all those who have been affected by the alleged incident,” and wrote, “Jim Gilchrist’s Minuteman Project, Inc. is not affiliated with the Minuteman American Defense or Shawna Forde. The Minuteman American Defense is an independent patriot organization which participates in systematic border observation and reporting operations.” ( continue to full post… )
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A 2010 U.S. Department of Homeland Security memo warned that a new Minuteman-style border vigilante group had popped up in Arizona that posed “a possibility of violence between armed civilians and smugglers.”
The confidential memo — dated April 28, 2010, and leaked last Thursday by LulzSec, a group that hacked the Arizona Department of Public Safety — warned that an “unknown group” calling itself “A Concerned Citizen” was seeking recruits to help shut down a 30-mile section of Interstate 8. The idea was to create a roadblock, allegedly for the purpose of stopping any smugglers who might be traveling along the route.
“[I]t is not surprising that another contingent of Minuteman types has come to life. The tone of this information is quite unlike that of the MCDC Locked and Loaded Operation,” the memo’s author wrote, referring to Chris Simcox’s nativist extremist group Minuteman Civil Defense Corps (MCDC) and appearing to suggest that the new group was even more militant. MCDC dissolved in March 2010 in part because it did not want to take legal responsibility for the potential actions of its fired-up volunteers after its leader announced a “locked and loaded” plan that encouraged volunteers to bring rifles with them to the border and “forcefully engage” the “criminals” who try to cross without documentation. ( continue to full post… )
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Arizonans who fretted that the recent cancellation of Glenn Spencer’s testimony before the state Senate Border Security Committee meant that Spencer would be prevented from sharing his paranoid visions of marauding migrants can rest easy. Even if Spencer never makes it to the Senate, interested senators are going to see Spencer — and so can everyday citizens wanting to hear the hate group leader’s nativist propaganda straight from the source.
Visits to Spencer’s Cochise County ranch, including a tour and a briefing from Spencer, are being sponsored by the Arizona 2012 Project, an affiliate of the Tea Party Patriots. The Maricopa County Republican Committee promotes upcoming tour dates on its website.
During the most recent tour Saturday, two Republican Arizona state senators, Sylvia Allen and Al Melvin, were among the approximately 50 people that Spencer estimated visited his ranch on Saturday, Spencer reported on his website. Allen, who chairs the state Senate Border Security Committee, had initially invited Spencer to testify about border issues in March. The hate group leader was disinvited after the two Democrats on the committee sent Allen a public letter requesting that his appearance be cancelled because of his “divisiveness” and “hatred.” ( continue to full post… )
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Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer last Thursday signed into law a bill authorizing herself and future Arizona governors to deploy an “Arizona State Guard” at any time and for any reason she sees fit. This state guard – in essence, a kind of all-volunteer militia that is immune from being federalized – would be a force that can be “activated” to do much of the same work that the National Guard does.
Republican State Rep. Jack Harper, who co-sponsored the bill and has been pushing the issue since Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano was governor of Arizona, told newspapers he hoped to see the militia established immediately and used to patrol the U.S.-Mexican border for undocumented immigrants. Arizona has already been the subject of much controversy around its harshly anti-immigrant policies, especially the S.B. 1070 law that critics say subjects all Latinos in the state to racial profiling and is currently held up in the federal courts.
Harper is not the only one enthused about the new law. Now comes a campaign — apparently led by an extremist nativist hardliner once sued by the Southern Poverty Law Center — to push Brewer into activating the guard immediately. ( continue to full post… )
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A superior court in Arizona has ruled that Chris Simcox, the disgraced former head of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps (MCDC), must continue to maintain distance from his estranged wife Alena and their children. In recent years, MCDC was one of the most important of the country’s anti-immigration extremist groups, but the organization has been considerably weakened of late.
“The court finds that conflicting testimony has been presented on every allegation and the court must make a determination of credibility,” The Washington Times quotes Maricopa County Superior Court Commissioner J. Justin McGuire as writing in his decision. “The court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that there is reasonable cause to believe that the defendant has committed an act of domestic violence within the last year. The court further finds that good cause exists to continue the order of protection in this case.” ( continue to full post… )
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In an Arizona Senate campaign in which immigration and border security have been center stage issues, it’s no surprise that Chris Simcox managed to insert himself back into local headlines. Since reinventing himself in 2002 as the charismatic founder of the vigilante border-watch group Minuteman Civil Defense Corps. (MCDC), Simcox has always found a way to command attention.
But the latest chapter in the Simcox saga has been more low-comedy soap opera than high-desert drama. It’s been years since Simcox was the subject of national media attention and a regular guest on Fox News and CNN’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight.” He began his most recent attempt at a comeback with big ambitions, his goal nothing less than unseating sitting Republican senator John McCain. When his efforts went nowhere and he dropped out of the race, Simcox found himself back in the familiar position of issuing pleading E-mail messages to his remaining (and most gullible) supporters, begging them not to abandon him in his latest hour of financial and legal need.
As Hatewatch noted in early June, Simcox’s estranged wife, Alena Lyras Simcox, has accused him of threatening her and their children with loaded handguns on two occasions in late 2009. He also allegedly threatened to shoot police if his wife called them to their home in Scottsdale, Ariz. Although Simcox denies the allegations, in April a Phoenix judge ordered Simcox to move out of the Scottsdale house, surrender his guns and maintain a distance of 200 yards from his family. His next court hearing in the custody dispute is scheduled for August.
Now, in the July 9 edition of his increasingly self-pitying E-mail newsletter, “The Simcox Report,” Simcox accuses his wife of having been involved in an adulterous relationship with Stacey O’Connell, a former member of the MCDC with whom Simcox has been feuding for years, since November of 2009. (O’Connell has denied the allegation.) Simcox charges that ever since O’Connell was thrown out of the MDCD in 2007, the self-described (but unlicensed) “bounty hunter” has “been engaged in an obsessive, devious plan to ruin my personal life.” In mid-June, in fact, O’Connell’s Fugitive Recovery Services of Arizona issued a “Wanted” poster for Simcox, saying that O’Connell had been hired by Lyras to serve the protective ordered granted to Lyras by the court. In the E-mail, Simcox treats his supporters to a large selection of text messages he says O’Connell has sent him in recent weeks, including one taunting, “i chased your skinny little ass right out of the state, youre such a little man (sic).” ( continue to full post… )
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Chris Simcox always wanted to be famous. Now, in a manner of speaking, he is.
Late last week, Fugitive Recovery Services of Arizona (FRS) released a “Wanted” poster asking for information about the location of Simcox, who it says readers should consider “ARMED & DANGEROUS.” The bounty hunters are seeking Simcox, co-founder of the anti-immigration Minuteman movement, so that an order of protection obtained by his estranged wife in April can be served. There is no warrant for his arrest and he is facing no criminal charges.
Alena Simcox was granted a protective order after telling a court that her husband had threatened her and her three children, aged 2, 3 and 8, with a loaded gun, and suggested that he would kill police officers if they interfered. The document orders Simcox to vacate the house in Scottsdale, Ariz., the couple shared, stay 200 yards away from his wife and children, and turn in any weapons to police.
“Simcox is known to be hiding, possibly staying in hotels, or with known associate Carmen Mercer in Tombstone AZ,” the poster says. Mercer long worked with Simcox in his Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, and took it over when he left to run for an Arizona Senate seat long held by John McCain (he dropped out of the race earlier this year). She folded the organization in March. (Mercer is also a defendant in a recent Arizona attorney general’s lawsuit alleging a property tax scam.)
FRS is offering $500 for information about Simcox’s whereabouts.
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Chris Simcox, co-founder of the Minuteman movement and a principal nativist leader, threatened to kill his wife and family last year, according to a petition filed in Maricopa County Court in mid-April by his estranged spouse, Alena Simcox.
According to Phoenix New Times’ Steve Lemons, who broke the story yesterday, a Maricopa County court commissioner granted the petition April 16 and ordered Simcox to remain 200 yards away from Alena, their two children, and Alena’s child from a previous relationship. The order prohibits Simcox from possessing, receiving or purchasing firearms or ammunition.
The filing describes several violent incidents, Lemons reports. On Nov. 29, 2009, Alena alleges, Simcox was “drinking” and threatened her “with a gun. Repeatedly pointed it at me, saying he was going to kill me, and my kids, and the police. Kids were present and saw him. Very verbally abusive to me throughout the incident.”
On Aug. 22, 2009, Alena alleges, Simcox again confronted her with a weapon: “On our wedding anniversary, he was drinking and angery [sic]. Got a revolver gun and loaded with kids present. Then proceeded to ask me to ‘shoot him.’ I said ‘no,’ so then he said he would shoot entire family and cops.”
In late April, Alena Simcox file a petition for divorce from Simcox after five years of marriage. She was temporarily granted legal custody of the children, pending resolution of the divorce. A reply to the court, filed by Simcox’s lawyer John Acer, denies the allegations of domestic violence. The two were married in late 2005, when Simcox was 44 and Alena was 25.
This isn’t the first time Simcox has been accused of violent and bizarre behavior by a spouse. In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center revealed that Simcox’s second wife, Kim Dunbar, had filed an emergency appeal in September 2001 to obtain full custody of their teenage son because she feared that Simcox had suffered a mental breakdown and was dangerous. ( continue to full post… )
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A major nativist group known for its armed border patrols is disbanding.
In a Monday E-mail to supporters, Minuteman Civil Defense Corps President Carmen Mercer said the MCDC will no longer exist as an organization, though she encouraged supporters to continue its work independently. “I predict Americans, on their own, will lock, load and do what the feckless cowards in Washington refuse to do — and frankly I hope Americans do take up arms to defend this great nation,” she wrote in the “urgent alert.”
MCDC is an offshoot of the Minuteman Project, a month-long civilian border patrol that was covered extensively by journalists five years ago. (Then-President George W. Bush called the Minutemen “vigilantes” in March 2005.) In 2009, MCDC had at least 74 chapters in nearly 30 states, making it the biggest of the Minuteman spin-off groups. But MCDC and the larger Minuteman movement have been plagued by infighting, allegations of financial impropriety and civil litigation. In addition, the leader of Minuteman American Defense (MAD) was charged with the May 2009 murder of a 9-year-old Latina girl and her father during a home invasion in Arivaca, Ariz., setting off furious accusations and counter-accusations over who had supported MAD’s Shawna Forde over the years.
The announcement of MCDC’s dissolution also followed an E-mail Mercer sent a week earlier, in which she urged supporters to bring their long arms to the border and to “forcefully engage” the “criminals” who try to cross without documentation. Mercer wrote on Monday that she received hundreds of responses to that E-mail, including some that sounded over-enthusiastic. “It was obvious that many had decided to return to the border who had tired of the sometimes futile watch and observe methods. It showed me that people are not willing to be silenced anymore; it also showed me that people will be less likely to follow the rules of engagement in a desperate attempt to stop the criminals who violate our borders every day. That is not what we want and we cannot take the responsibility for this.” ( continue to full post… )
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It didn’t have to end this way for Lou Dobbs. He could have been a contender.
But Dobbs, a supremely self-confident man who often mentions his Harvard education in private conversation, just wouldn’t listen. Time after time, as the “Lou Dobbs Tonight” show he has hosted on CNN since 2003 grew more rabidly critical of undocumented immigrants, he was warned of the kind of people he was putting on his show. He was told that many of the “facts” he was presenting just weren’t so. At first, he was gently called out for his defamations of Latino immigrants, then, as his tone grew sharper still, he was subjected to all kinds of public criticism from human rights groups, the journalism trade press, even a leading New York Times financial columnist. Instead of righting his course, or even slightly moderating his tone, Dobbs called his critics “commies” and “fascists.” He fudged facts, defended earlier falsehoods, and promoted racist conspiracy theories. He fumed.
It all ended last night, when Dobbs announced on his program that he was resigning from CNN effective immediately. In a moment of supreme irony, he complained that public political debate was now overtaken with “partisanship and ideology,” and promised to use “the most honest and direct language possible” in whatever future role he plays in public life. For once, he did not attack his critics.
My colleagues at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and I were some of those critics, and early ones at that. I began speaking to Lou Dobbs in 2004, not many months after he started airing virtually nightly segments entitled “Broken Borders.” By that time, he had already run “reports” complaining about “illegal aliens” getting free medical care, educating their children in public schools, committing sex crimes, getting breaks on college tuition, filling the prisons and spreading diseases. ( continue to full post… )