Profiles of 20 Nativist Leaders
"Buffalo" Rick Galeener, 57
Before he became one of the most radical and flamboyant characters of the Arizona anti-immigration vigilante movement (no mean feat), "Buffalo" Rick Galeener was a professional singing cowboy. He traveled the desert in a motorized stagecoach, clad in chaps, Stetson and bandana and accompanied by dancing girls in frilly satin dresses. For a time, he was a fixture in Old Town Scottsdale and fancied himself Arizona's only official "Wild West ambassador." In his spare time, he rode custom motorcycles.
"Buffalo" Rick Galeener
But all that changed in May 2000, when Galeener was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in one of his legs. The treatment left Galeener crippled, depressed and addicted to pain medication, he wrote in an angry, online 2003 essay about his battle with the Veterans Administration: "It gets no better! It has only gotten worse! In addition, my mental state has been taking a beating. I can no longer perform as a 'Wild West' entertainer, as a lover to my wife, or as a provider for a family. That really takes a toll on an old cowboy!"
Lately, Galeener has focused his rage on immigrants, becoming a fixture at Phoenix anti-immigration protests as well as a member of the board of directors of Riders United for a Sovereign America, or Riders USA. The immigrant-bashing motorcycle gang has sponsored or participated in more than a dozen events since November 2006, when its members debuted by terrorizing Latino day laborers in Cave Creek, Ariz., during "Operation Adios Illegals."
Galeener also runs an online store that sells T-shirts. One reads: "Illegal Immigrants. When they RAPE your daughter you'll care!" Galeener's website encourages "Frontline Warriors" to stockpile weapons and ammunition and join him on the border for weekend excursions. The website pledges that new recruits will be issued a computerized ID card, a set of combat fatigues, and a .45-caliber pistol equipped with a laser sight and a bayonet. "Once you finish our training course you will be completely prepared and equipped with everything except an illegal alien hunting tag or permit," Galeener promises.
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