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How the Brutal Murders of a Little Girl and Her Father Doomed the Xenophobic Minuteman Movement

The brutal killings of Junior and Brisenia Flores highlighted growing extremism on the fringes of the anti-immigrant movement.

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A few weeks later, in early December 2006, Forde wrote to Simcox, portraying herself as media director for the Washington state MCDC chapter and urging him to look hard at the lack of leadership in the state. Simcox wrote back: “Thanks for the heads up on your concerns Shawna. Thank you for everything you are doing. … You call us any time you need something. I’m investigating beginning tomorrow. Send me what you have and we’ll make a trip up there to hold some meetings to get things back on track.”

Forde wrote back in early January 2007, outlining in a lengthy e-mail her “plan” for the state, urging Simcox to consider creating two outfits there: one dedicated to running border watches, headed by the current leadership, and a second one devoted to “internal” watches, harassing day laborers and people who employ undocumented immigrants — to be headed up, naturally, by herself. She complained that the current leaders were threatening to throw her out of the organization: “They do not like the fact that I’m trying to organize and get thing’s done they see it as a pain in their necks and would like it to be quiet and everyone just go to the border once a month and keep it simple. They always talk about doing things but it never transpires.”

Simcox wrote back enthusiastically: “Shawna, Thanks for the info, we'll get this done asap. I’ll call you tomorrow evening to discuss. Please contact Carmen Mercer about finances and raising money — since we are a non-profit corporation it’s not all that simple, we’ll help you out with internal chapters. Look forward to working with you. I think it best we send a national person up there to help show you how to develop chapters as we have done all over the country.”

Within a few days, he sent out a missive to the Washington state Minutemen announcing exactly that change. Naturally, this caused a major eruption within the organization: the entire leadership of the state chapter threatened to resign, along with a large number of members, if Simcox carried out the reorganization and promoted Forde to head up the new “internal” chapter. After much internal wrangling, Forde backed out and announced she was “stepping down” as “internal chapter director.” A few weeks later, the disgruntled state leadership — after a meeting with Mercer, who flew up to Seattle to try to mend fences — officially fired her from their organization.

It didn’t matter. Forde had decided at that point to form her own Minuteman organization; she had come to recognize that the movement’s larger leadership vacuum was a perfect opportunity for someone with her organizing skills and energy. After state leaders fired her, she had a phone conversation with Simcox during which she explained that she was packing up her act and creating her own outfit, to be called Minuteman American Defense.

A Seattle private investigator named Mike Carlucci was working on a security project for Forde at the time, and he sat in on the conversation. Simcox, he said, was in fact desperate to keep Forde on board at the MCDC — in part because his feud with Gilchrist was heating up, and he didn’t want to lose her to his competitor. He tried to convince Forde to continue working as a power behind the scenes.

“I was there when they were begging Shawna to stay on board, and to weather out the storm, and to work with them,” Carlucci says. “I mean, begging her to do that. Begging Shawna not to be pissed off, not to leave, not to start MAD, but to hang in there with them and they would get this ironed out. Chris Simcox, for crying out loud, was apologizing to Shawna and asking if there was anything that he could do to keep her on board.”

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