15-Minutes Are Up: National Minuteman Border Group Disbands

After a five-year run, the Minutemen Civil Defense Corps is calling it quits, their president announced this week.

The Minutemen Civil Defense Corps announced Thursday that it will disband after a five-year run. Carmen Mercer, the group's president, made the announcement only days after circulating a new call to action to its members to come to the border "locked, loaded and ready."

The group has struggled through leadership conflicts, financial mismanagement battles, and failed political campaigns over the years. This recent action reflects a split in the organization over accelerating liability threats due to its membership base which is difficult to control, increasingly hostile and aggressive.

Border Action Network, an Arizona human rights organization that works on the border is not surprised by the recent news. "There has been a growing disconnect from the national and the local Minutemen chapters," explains Jennifer Allen, the group's Executive Director.

"The national was getting absorbed into the political fights with candidates and lobbying while the local groups continue to attract fringe extremists that are attracted to the paramilitary culture and hate groups."

The Border Action Network notes the local groups' increasingly aggressive and hostile membership base. In one incident of alleged aggressive membership behavior, Washington State Minutemen chapter members, Shawna Forde and Jason Bush, are charged with murdering a Latino father and daughter in rural Arivaca, AZ in June 2009. They are expected to go on trial later this year.

The Border Action Network has documented repeated incidents of Minutemen and other vigilante groups abusing immigrants over the years. In a case they filed in 2005 with the Organization of American States' Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, they relate that many of the one thousand individuals who were detained by vigilante groups and individuals reported were shot at, kicked, dragged, and, in other ways, physically and verbally abused.

Their case charges the U.S. government with human rights violations for failing to prosecute Minutemen and other vigilante groups. "We expect the case to be heard by the Commission later this year," explains Allen.

Allen continued, "The fundamental problem is that the U.S., at all levels, has turned a blind-eye to the growth of fringe, hate groups. The consequences have been deadly."

Ironically, Allen does not expect to see the human rights situation improve with the Minutemen's disbanding. Rather, she predicts an increase in violence by vigilante groups as a result of the restructuring.

"Without the U.S. officials stepping up or their own [Minuteman] national group attempting to keep the local radical organizations in check, we can expect to see more assaults on immigrants and those that live in the border region."


This Minutemen recruiting video was posted earlier this week on YouTube, only two days before the news of the group's disbanding was announced by Carmen Mercer, the group's president.

Billie Greenwood, an advocate, writer, and retired educator who lives in El Paso, TX, blogs at Border Explorer and reports for
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