Nativist Leader Now Says Video is Fake

For the first time, Robert Crooks, leader of California’s nativist extremist Mountain Minutemen, has admitted to filming and posting videos (here and here) that seem to depict an undocumented immigrant being shot on the border. But Crooks now says the video was staged.

“Who in their right mind is going to shoot a smuggler, videotape it, then post it to YouTube?” Crooks asked KGTV 10News in San Diego.

That’s a change from last week, when Crooks, in an E-mail to the Intelligence Report, insisted he neither filmed the video nor posted it to a video-sharing site. A local police spokesman told 10News the video did appear to be fake.

Crooks’ tiny Mountain Minutemen group is one of several armed Minuteman spinoffs now operating on the U.S.-Mexico border between Campo and Jacumba, Calif. Crooks told a reporter that he and friends made the fake video during talks about President George Bush’s proposed immigration reform bill.

Crooks had a number of other nativist extremist leaders convinced that his video was real and would damage their movement. In response to Crooks’ border shooting video, Jeff Schwilk, leader of the nativist extremist San Diego Minutemen, told his supporters he had a media strategy in place, “to minimize damage to the Minuteman movement.” Jim Gilchrist, director of another Minuteman group, banned his own members from contact with Crooks and his group and said that he would no longer provide Crooks’ group with supplies as in the past.

In late July, Crooks sent an E-mail to Gilchrist and other Minutemen leaders that contained a link to part of the chilling video depicting an immigrant being targeted and shot at through a night-vision scope. “This video shows how to keep a ‘Home Depot’ parking lot empty,” he wrote, jabbing at Gilchrist and others who, he suggested, could “Talk the Talk” but not “Walk the Walk.”

Now, Robert Crooks offers another reason for making the video. “We’re old men and we’re bored,” he said.