Fringe Nativist Sees Conspiracy in Murder Charge

Laine Lawless, the Mexican flag-burning leader of the vigilante group Border Guardians, has been one of the few anti-immigration leaders to support accused nativist killer Shawna Forde.

Soon, those who can’t get enough of justiceforshawnaforde.com, Lawless’ unabashedly pro-Forde website, will be able to read her book about the case. The soon-to-be-released Blonde on the Border: The Government’s Case Against the Minutemen promises to dish out more dubious defenses of Forde, who is charged with murder in the killings of a Latino man and his 9-year-old daughter during a home invasion on May 30 in Arivaca, Ariz. Forde led Minuteman American Defense (MAD), an Everett, Wash.-based splinter group of the Minuteman movement, whose adherents conduct armed patrols of the border.

Based on a short excerpt that’s published online, the book appears to rehash Lawless’ theory that Forde is the victim of a government conspiracy and a racist, sexist media campaign. Lawless, who asserts on her website that Forde was “racially profiled” and that she is a “political agenda prisoner,” again suggests in the book’s title that Forde’s prosecution is the result of a government vendetta against the Minutemen. In the excerpt, she also calls the details about Forde’s alleged involvement in the killings a “left-wing media-manufacture.” Lawless is virtually alone in this view: After the murders, Minuteman leaders scrambled to distance themselves from Forde, who faces the death penalty if convicted in the gruesome double murder. Even before the deaths in Arivaca, Forde was a controversial figure in Minuteman circles because of her supposed efforts to take on dangerous drug smugglers and because of her claims — never substantiated — that she’d been the target of a series of violent attacks. (Lawless also has been a lightening rod: In 2006, she privately wrote the nation’s largest neo-Nazi group urging members to harass and assault undocumented immigrants. She later told the Arizona Daily Star that the E-mail was fabricated.)

In the book’s online excerpt, Lawless writes about accompanying Minuteman Chuck Stonex to a home in Arivaca, where Stonex treated Forde associate Jason Bush for a minor gunshot wound. (Bush was allegedly shot in the leg by a victim of the home invasion, though Forde and Bush told Stonex that a smuggler fired at him during a desert patrol.) There are details about Stonex’s “tiny Chihuahua dog” and the hug Lawless gave Stonex that she wished she could take back because he didn’t support Forde after learning about the murders.

Don’t expect accomplished prose, however. As the Arizona Daily Star notes in a blog post on the book, Lawless used to pen erotic fan fiction about the warrior princess Xena, and Blonde on the Border seems influenced by these earlier writings. Take these paragraphs about Lawless’ first meeting with Forde:

“It was an odd kind of situation, meeting Shawna Forde while she was with Jason Bush, who had a bullet wound. Over the first couple of months of 2009, I had only talked to her on the phone and emailed her. I remember saying how glad I was to meet her, giving her a hug, and feeling her hug me back.

“The memory that stands out most for me of that night was Shawna bringing me 2 glasses of green Gatorade with ice. I rode the 25 miles to Arivaca from the freeway in Chuck Stonex’s Blazer with no air conditioning, and it was HOT. I was sweating, and my face was probably flushed. I guess Shawna thought I needed something cold to drink.

“It was STILL HOT when we left, even though it was after 9 PM. I embraced Shawna as we said goodbye. …”

The case against Forde is no warrior princess fantasy, however. And Lawless may have to discuss what she knows in a much different and far more intimidating forum than a website or book: She’s on the prosecution’s witness list for Forde’s trial, according to the Arizona Daily Star. Her court testimony, unlike Blonde on the Border, might prove interesting.