Nativist leaders are scrambling to distance themselves from Minutemen American Defense (MAD) founder Shawna Forde, who has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of an Arizona man and his 9-year-old daughter.
“We knew there was something very wrong with Shawna Forde and did all in our power to forewarn groups and leaders, as well as press and law enforcement, regarding our concerns,” wrote William Gheen of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC), in a news release. “Shawna Forde does not reflect the immigration enforcement movement or the millions of Americans concerned about illegal immigration and border security.”
Among those releasing similar statements were Chris Simcox, former president of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, Jeff Schwilk, leader of the San Diego Minutemen, and Chelene Nightingale, managing director of Save Our State. Police say Forde and two associates used a ruse to enter the home of 29-year-old Raul Flores on May 30 with the intent of killing his family and stealing cash to finance her group’s border operations. Flores and his daughter, Brisenia, were shot and killed. His wife was wounded when she returned fire.
Anti-immigration activists are just as forcefully repudiating Minuteman Project president Jim Gilchrist, who was allied with Forde. Gheen called for Gilchrist’s resignation both in his news release and — much less politely — in an E-mail to Gilchrist that’s posted in the “Hate Mail” section of the Minuteman Project’s website. “Jim, you [sic] and Shawna’s close and vibrant relationship is well documented in many different places,” he wrote. “Do the movement and yourself a favor and announce your resignation …”
Gilchrist’s response, also posted on his website, is addressed to the “self-acclaimed [sic] Messiah William Gheen of ALIPAC.” “As much as you would like me to resign from the movement to bring law enforcement back to our immigration laws, I must politely decline,” he wrote. “If I were to abandon the movement to encourage our political governors to enforce our immigration laws, then that task might be left for unstable and socially-challenged idiots like you. And then what kind of mess would we be in?”
In an E-mail titled “Jim Gilchrist Exposed!!!!” on the Minuteman Project’s website, Nightingale, the Save Our State official, wrote that “patriots” were incensed at Gilchrist’s group because it supported Forde. “As a mother I am sick to death that a little child was murdered!” she wrote. “Murdered at the hands of people that were endorsed on the Jim Gilchrist MMP site. Wasn’t it bad enough that your forum is a sewer full of lies and bashing of patriots? Or are each of you being paid by say the SPLC, La Raza to destroy the movement with your filth and personal connections?”
In his response, Gilchrist asserted that Save Our State’s allies included the Mountain Minutemen, whose leader in 2007 produced a faked video that appeared to show an undocumented immigrant being shot at the border. “Your unwarranted wrath is all about sour grapes, Ms. Nightingale,” Gilchrist wrote. “If you are going to be a crackpot, Ms. Nightingale, please be thorough about it.”
Gilchrist defended Forde this winter after other nativist leaders expressed doubt about her claims that she’d been raped, beaten and shot in a bizarre series of incidents in and near her Everett, Wash., home. The Everett Herald reported that police have dropped the investigation of the reported rape, citing a lack of evidence.