POSTED BY REGINA CANTU
Shawna Forde, the 43-year-old leader of Minutemen American Defense (MAD)—a faction of the Minutemen citizen group that patrols the U.S.-Mexico border looking for undocumented people—was found guilty last Monday of killing 9-year-old Bricenia Flores and her father Raúl Flores in 2009.
Forde could face the death penalty as an indirect response to the heated criticism Arizona has received in the past few months over the treatment of Latinos and hostile environment for immigrants, a state said to welcome extremists and border vigilante groups.
The Forde decision also comes in the aftermath of a deadly public shooting in Tucson that shook the nation last month and left 6 dead, including another 9-year-old, and 13 more injured, among them Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
“This is the start of a positive path for our state,” said Isabel Garcia, director of Derechos Humanos, a human rights coalition in Tucson, Arizona.
While she was somewhat surprised by the verdict, Garcia hopes that the highly publicized shooting in Tucson last January, coupled with comments made by President Barak Obama during a memorial to the victims, and Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik’s denunciation of what he called a “vitriolic political rhetoric” in the state, may have made an impression in the minds of Arizonans.
But the Flores murder case is just an example of the frequent hate crimes against Latinos and immigrants have been in the news regularly over the last few years, at the same time that the nation has had a rancorous debate over immigration reform and the place of immigrants in U.S. society.
Here is a press release about the verdict from Presente.org:
“Latinos across the United States applaud the guilty verdict of two counts of first-degree murder rendered by the Pina County jury on the trial of Shawna Forde…Local civil and human rights leaders from across the nation join forces with Presente.org, an online advocacy group that seeks to strengthen the political voice of Latino communities, to salute the Flores family in its efforts to achieve justice for Brisenia. Advocates state that verdict sends a strong message that hate-crimes will face the full force of the law and, at the same time, call on the media to be socially responsible by reporting the linkages between Forde’s proven extremism and that of extremist groups she represents.