A word that has ignited extreme feelings all over the country.
To some, Arizona is Nazi Germany, a place where rights are suppressed and documents are presented to prove citizenship.
To others, Arizona is a patriot bastion that has pitched a new American Civil War against the federal government, human rights, and illegal immigrants from Mexico.
This week, events in Arizona only added more fuel to the struggle. First, a Tucson jury sentenced convicted murderer and Minuteman vigilante Shawna Forde to death for the murders of American citizens 29-year old Raul Flores and his 9-year-old daughter Brisenia. The murder, which occurred during a May 2009 home invasion of the Flores home, did not gain much mainstream media attention, although major outlets like CNN and CBS News did report about Forde’s death sentence.
As Flores’ wife Christina González said on Tuesday:
“I miss my husband, I miss my daughter, I miss my family, I miss my life … and that’s all because of a choice she made,” referring to Forde.
CNN reported that prosecutors successfully argued that Forde’s motive was to steal cash and drugs to help fund Forde’s activist group. Police found jewelry from Flores’ home in Forde’s possession. Forde was the leader of the Minutemen American Defense group, an organization that supported stricter border enforcement and deportation of all illegal immigrants.
As Forde awaits her fate, some videos about her on YouTube paint a picture of her thoughts and opinions. In this first video from local Arizona TV, Forde shares her thoughts about why illegal immigration is ruining America.
A website called Justice For Shawn Forde still maintains her innocence, even though Forde was tried properly to the fullest letter of the law. The site claims the following about interview Forde had given to a journalist last year:
In an 11th hour move, Shawna Forde, who has been held incommunicado for over 2 weeks by the jail, called her supporters and insisted that she was misquoted in a hasty 10 minute interview she gave to a yellow journalist with the dirtbag. She says she doesn’t appreciate being characterized as a criminal, and she is innocent of all charges. Further legal actions are pending. Shawna indicated she is now willing to speak to media and to answer all questions asked, and directs journalists to the media section of this website. She will grant no interviews unless the parties have been screened through The Committee for Justice for Shawna Forde first.
Here is a video of Forde and her claims that she was protecting CIA agents who were tracking Mexican drug cartels around the border.
On the same site, a post that supports Forde’s innocence contains the following:
In America, accused murderers like Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers and Black Panther Huey Newton, as well as O. J. Simpson, have been acquitted in cases where there was far more evidence of guilt than there was in the Shawna Forde case. Newton and Simpson are black. Ayers is white but hates America. Forde is white and loves America. That makes her a viable scapegoat in today’s politically correct atmosphere
The website also contains a video from a Minuteman YouTube page that has received over 2 million views since July, 2009. The video speaks to the US Government’s lawsuit against Arizona’s controversial anti-immigration bill SB 1070, which passed last year.
With regards to SB1070, the Arizona state legislature is about to vote on a more controversial measure that would severely limit human rights and create a situation that would lead to greater possibilities of racial profiling of Latinos and unjust discrimination. As reported by The New York Times this week, the bill, which passed through committee, will now be considered by the Republican-controlled state legislature. Here are a few excerpts of the article:
Illegal immigrants would be barred from driving in the state, enrolling in school or receiving most public benefits. Their children would receive special birth certificates that would make clear that the state does not consider them Arizona citizens.
Some of the bills, like those restricting immigrants’ access to schooling and right to state citizenship, flout current federal law and are being put forward to draw legal challenges in hopes that the Supreme Court might rule in the state’s favor.
The Times also quoted several people to share their opinions about the bill:
“This bill is miles beyond S.B. 1070 in terms of its potential to roll back the rights and fundamental freedoms of both citizens and noncitizens alike,” said Alessandra Soler Meetze, executive director of the A.C.L.U. of Arizona. She said the measures would create “a ‘papers, please’ society” and that a new crime — “driving while undocumented” — would be added to the books.
“If you are ever going to stop this invasion, and it is an invasion, you have to quit rewarding people for breaking those laws,” said State Senator Russell Pearce, the Senate president, who is leading Arizona’s effort to try to make life so difficult for illegal immigrants that they stop coming, or leave.
“Denying citizenship to children because they have parents without documents is crazy,” said the Rev. Javier Perez, a Roman Catholic priest and immigrant from Mexico who waited in the legislative chamber into the night Tuesday for a chance to speak. “Honestly, I don’t think anything I say will change their minds, but it’s immoral what they’re doing and we have to say this is against the values of America.”
In the meantime, it is very likely that these events will indeed elevate the attention on Arizona. Just like Madison, Wisconsin, the state has becoming a symbol of an America at a crossroads. It will be up to all American citizens to decide which direction our country will take. Nonetheless, whatever the outcome, Raul and Brisenia Flores will never come back to walk this earth. The debate has become too extreme and the fight to stop this ignorance and hate must intensify.
This reminds me of a song by Public Enemy called When The Time I Get to Arizona. The song, which was released in 1991, was written to protest Arizona’s refusal to acknowledge the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr, a national holiday that the rest of the country celebrates. All Americans who believe in justice and human deceny better get to Arizona soon before it becomes the symbol of an America that espouses racist principles and anti-American values. Let the REAL patriots show up.