Last week, prosecutors in Pima County, Ariz., announced they’re seeking the death penalty for Minuteman American Defense leader Shawna Forde, who allegedly masterminded a May 30 home invasion robbery in which a Latino man and his 9-year-old daughter were shot to death.
But those prosecutors have it all wrong.
At least, that is, according to a new website proclaiming Forde’s innocence and portraying the border vigilante leader as the victim of a government conspiracy abetted by a racist, sexist media smear campaign.
“Shawna’s become the target of a socialist government’s clumsy attempts to marginalize and terrorize America’s patriots,” declares a recent post to JusticeForShawnaForde.com. The site also blames “the unholy government/Marxist-media alliance” and Latino corrections officers in almost the same breath: “The evidence is there: Shawna has been set-up to be punished for things she didn’t do by the (mostly Hispanic) Corrections Officers (CO’s) in the women’s side of the prison.” No evidence at all is offered to support this assertion.
The Arizona Daily Star identified the creator of the website as Laine Lawless, a militant feminist and hard-core border vigilante with a history of coordinating with neo-Nazis (although she denies corresponding with leaders of the National Socialist Movement, telling the Star that the E-mail in question was fabricated by unknown persons). “I’m tired of women getting screwed over by men in this movement,” Lawless told reporter Tim Steller. “Nobody in the Minuteman movement except for me is willing to talk to her [Forde].”
The website for Border Guardians, the border vigilante group founded by Lawless in 2005, features a “Free Shawna” banner that links to the JusticeForShawnaForde.com website. “Shawna is being targeted by design simply because she is a Caucasian woman who’s been doing a man’s job,” the site reads. “This case has politics, sexism and racism written all over it.”
Lawless’ site compares Forde to former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, “another white Christian woman [who] has been demonized in the press, just for being a woman who’s pretty and who’s also successful, and the vulnerability of her family has been shamelessly exploited.”
Pro-Forde website spokesman John Lyon is a member of the Phoenix-area nativist extremist group United for a Sovereign America. Members have harassed Latino immigrants outside day labor centers and carried pistols to anti-immigrant demonstrations.
“I’m not condoning any kind of criminal behavior, certainly not murder of a child or even of a drug dealer,” Lyon told The Arizona Daily Star. “I’m sensitive to the issue of racial exploitation. They exploited her [Forde] for her race, her sex and her political affiliations.”
In the news media, Lyon said, “everybody else is protected, but white people are fair game.”