Since the conviction last week of Shawna Forde for murder in the 2009 home invasion slaying of a Latino father and his 9-year-old daughter in rural Arivaca, Arizona, there have been sighs of relief among those who had called for justice, but also bitter questions about how the murder and trial were covered by media, in particular the degree of attention paid to Forde's radical nativism.
Forde, the ringleader of a trio accused of carrying out the killings, was also the leader of a Minuteman splinter group known as Minuteman American Defense, or MAD. She had been pushed out of the more mainstream Minuteman Civil Defense Corps for what members described to CNN as "unstable behavior."
Forde was not convicted of a hate crime. The motive for the home invasion that left Brisenia Flores and her father Raul dead was ostensibly robbery, for which Forde was also convicted. But there has been much criticism that mainstream media not only arrived late to the story, but in its coverage failed to sufficiently address the beliefs espoused by Forde as relevant to the crime.
Several blogs have taken up the latter conversation in recent days, demanding deeper discussion of the implications of a crime in which the victims were Latino, the murderer a militant anti-illegal immigration activist. From a post yesterday from David Neiwert in Crooks and Liars:
When a sweet, innocent life is cut short like this -- especially by an act as monstrous as this one -- it always horrifies us, just as the case of another Arizona 9-year-old slain by a madman, Christina Green, has resonated deeply with the public. And so often in such cases, the monstrousness and the tragedy simply overwhelm us, leaving us to throw up our hands and decide that it's beyond our understanding, that there's no explaining such events.
But there's no such mystery about what killed Brisenia. We know. We can see it clearly. And we need to be talking about it.
The people who broke into her home late at night while she was sleeping with her new puppy on the living-room couch and cold-bloodedly shot her in the face while she pleaded for her life were people who did not see her, or her father or mother, as human beings. They were people who had become so accustomed to dehumanizing Latinos that they didn't care about the devastation they brought to Arivaca and the lives of this family. They were so consumed by hate that they had no humanity left themselves.
A post from Maegan "La Mala" Ortiz of Vivir Latino followed a similar line of thought:
Real justice would be not having to witness your partner and child killed in front of you because, as I wrote when little Brisenia and her father were taken, this is a casa of violence used against a family viewed as expendable to help further their cause of using violence against those viewed as expendable.
Namely immigrants, Latinos and those perceived as such.
The Crooks and Liars post cited a news release from the Latino advocacy group Presente.org. An excerpt:
Though we received a verdict that condemned these atrocious murders, we also recognize that the Brisenia Flores’ case is not the isolated incident that some media reports make it out to be. Rather, it has galvanized the attention of the entire Latino community across the country as it reflects the anti-immigrant, anti-Latino hatred organized by extremist groups. Latinos – the fastest-growing and largest ethnic minority group in the U.S. – understand and experience the phenomenon of hatred that has rapidly expanded in the nation.
And far from Arizona, in Tennessee, John Lamb at Nashville Scene wrote:
We are having a national conversation about immigration enforcement. How can the Flores murders not be part of that conversation?
Two men accused of being Forde's accomplices are to stand trial later this year.