Providing yet another sign that major elements of the Minuteman anti-immigration movement are broadening their agenda to become part of a resurgent antigovernment “Patriot” movement, a top official of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps (MCDC) has announced that he resigned Aug. 1. Al Garza, who was vice president of the largest and richest Minuteman organization in the country, will now head the newly formed Patriots Coalition, a conspiracy-mongering Patriot group whose website contains jokes about assassinating President Obama.
Garza, who’s been MCDC founder Chris Simcox’s right-hand man for the past four years, wrote in a mass E-mail that he was quitting to launch the Patriots Coalition because “the organization [MCDC] is now on a path that I cannot endorse. Many of you have shared similar feelings with me and I have heard your calling.”
Garza may have been referencing the fact that in recent months, Simcox has toned down his rhetoric toward immigrants and has disavowed other Minuteman leaders who’ve expressed support for non-border security-related causes such as tax resistance, the secession of Texas and even armed insurrection. Simcox’s moderation has coincided with the early stages of his campaign for the U.S. Senate in Arizona against incumbent John McCain.
In his E-mail, Garza also referred to the latest firestorm of infighting within the Minuteman movement. The intramural sniping was touched off by the arrest of Minuteman American Defense (MAD) leader Shawna Forde and two of her followers for the home-invasion murders of a Latino man and his 9-year-old daughter in Pima County, Ariz.
“Unfortunately, the public perception of the Minutemen has been tainted by our detractors and the media, which has successfully been enflamed by the internal and unnecessary strife,” Garza wrote. “I do not see an end in sight for the problems plaguing what was once the greatest citizen movement in America.”
Garza is identified as the “Founder/President” of the The Patriots Coalition. The group’s site is thick with “birther” conspiracy theory materials and jokes about the death of Obama. For example, it displays a digitally altered photographed of a bullet-riddled Air Force One and the caption, “Obama’s first low pass over Texas.” The site also contains information on how to join the so-called “tea party” tax-protest demonstrations as well as the militant antigovernment outbursts erupting at health care reform town hall meetings across the country. The site declares: “Our country has two enemies: ?Those who want to destroy us from the outside and those who attempt it from within.”
Here is Garza’s announcement of his resignation in its entirety:
“Fellow Minuteman, patriots and other concerned Americans:
“The 1st of August 2009, I tendered my resignation as Vice President of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps to its President and CEO, Carmen Mercer. I’ve had the pleasure of spending several years and many long, hard days working alongside my friends Carmen Mercer and Chris Simcox in pursuit of a mission to secure our borders and protect our national sovereignty.
“Unfortunately, the public perception of the Minutemen has been tainted by our detractors and the media, which has successfully been enflamed by the internal and unnecessary strife. I do not see an end in sight for the problems plaguing what was once the greatest citizen movement in America.
“Like most volunteers of the Minutemen, I have attempted to focus on the mission rather than internal politics, but I can no longer serve my country and our mission to secure the borders by remaining a part of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps.
“I have recently been asked and have accepted the post as President of the Patriots Coalition. It was not an easy decision as I have been honored to work alongside Carmen Mercer, Chris Simcox and other volunteers of the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps. Unfortunately, the organization is now on a path that I cannot endorse. Many of you have shared similar feelings with me and I have heard your calling.
“Through the Patriots Coalition, we will continue the mission to secure our borders and reach out to other Americans who feel disenfranchised by the direction our country has taken. Many of us have children and grandchildren for whom we seek a better America. We cannot and will not give up until we deliver on that promise.
“Over the next few weeks, we have many administrative tasks to accomplish in order to gain our non-profit status and develop our infrastructure. We will continue to communicate with you on our progress and appreciate the yeomen’s work you have always been willing to perform in the name of God and country.
“For God, Liberty and Country.