The capital murder trial of Shawna Forde came to an abrupt halt this morning when a witness in the case - one of Shawna Forde’s biggest supporters - came into the courtroom in disguise, violating a court order that all witnesses remain outside the courtroom. Laine Lawless, wearing a black wig, short trenchcoat and sunglasses, was immediately spotted by reporters and detectives. One of the detectives alerted prosecutor Rick Unklesbay, who immediately asked to approach the bench of Judge John Leonardo.
I’m really surprised* that so few people are familiar with Shawna Forde, the leader of Arizona’s Minutemen American Defense vigilante group who murdered Raul Flores and his 9-year-old daughter, Brisenia, in their house.
So here is some long-winded, rambling background on Shawna Forde, murderous right-wing sociopath.
Shawna Forde had by all accounts a lousy childhood, raised in foster homes in Everett, WA, and, as a teenager, became a prostitute and thief.** Somewhere along the way, she married and divorced four times, had a child who died from SIDS, raised some fucked-up children, ran for Everett city council, possibly murdered someone in 1997, reinvented herself as a charismatic (if not uniformly accepted) leader of various Minutemen organizations, was disowned by said organizations, lied about being shot and raped by Mexican drug dealers, moved to Arizona to start her own movement…the story is convoluted and practically endless.
The FBI was told of Forde’s plans to raid Flores’ house and rob him of money, drugs, and guns (they believed he was a drug dealer — which, incidentally, has not been proven***). The FBI chose to do nothing. Then, on May 30, 2009, Forde and two of her henchmen, Albert Gaxiola and Jason Bush, murdered a man, wounded a woman, and shot a 9-year-old girl point blank in the face.
Forde’s trial has begun, with Bush’s and Gaxiola’s to follow. You can read about the daily proceedings here.
The more you read about Forde, the more obvious it becomes that she is a sociopath who sought every possible opportunity to take advantage of others for her personal benefit. It’s safe to say that she probably did believe the hate she spewed. But being part of the Minutemen movement also fed her megalomania and allowed her to camouflage her chief motivations: power, money, and drugs.
The Arizona Minutemen groups have been quick to distance themselves from Forde. However, she very clearly aligned herself with the Minutemen, Tea Party, and Patriot movement. They might disavow her now, but the fact is: She considered herself one of them. (Forde’s blog at the Minuteman American Defense website has gone down the memory hole — a Wayback Machine cache doesn’t exist, unfortunately — but you can read a few snippets of her virtually unintelligible rants here.)
I agree with Will Bunch’s take on this:
In the wake of the Tucson shootings earlier this month, there was a lot of talk about hateful rhetoric and violent imagery in American politics, and there was a lot of pushback when it emerged that the gunman in that case, Loughner, didn’t follow mainstream politics, just some extreme crackpot theories on the Internet. But what happened to Brisenia Flores is different. She lost her life because a couple of unhinged crackpots absorbed all that “lock and load” blather in our atmosphere and actually did something about it. We should not be shocked. But we do need to figure out how to make sure that never again will the life of innocent girl end because of this political madness.
The misguided rush to characterize Jared Laughner as a product of the Tea Party movement (when it’s clearly much more complicated than that) makes it harder than ever to assign blame in tragedies that are VERY obviously politically motivated, like this one.
However, I don’t think Forde’s political background is the primary reason that the mainstream media, even its “liberal” outposts, are ignoring this case.
QED: the primary reason they’re ignoring it is that the victims aren’t white.
*Actually, surprised isn’t the right word, because it’s actually the norm for the mainstream media to ignore stories like this. And after seeing the response this post generated, I’m reminded that unless you regularly peruse antifa blogs (or — ugh — white power websites), you *will* miss news like this. Those of you who read my “real” blog know that I have a particular hateboner for/fascination with the white power and American patriot movements.
**Then she went on to be a scenester in Seattle. Hey, not unlike another notorious blond sociopath, Courtney Love! Only difference is Courtney has only killed one person. ::rimshot:: (Unless you count El Duce. Which, you know, no great loss either way.)
***By the way, this is the NYT’s ONLY article about Forde. Period.