Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Militias “Helping” Law Enforcement At The U.S.-Mexico Border – We’ve Heard This Tune Before, And It Wasn't Pretty

(UPDATED -- See below)

The Conservative talk machine has always been paranoid about the issue of illegal immigrants and the need to secure our border with Mexico.  But lately they have been running full-tilt about a “wave” of illegal immigrants “swarming” our border with Mexico.  In the last week or so, for instance, the issue has centered around a very large number refugee children from Central America, where drug cartels and gangs have vastly increased the level of violence, and parents, fearing for the safety of their children, have sent their children on a one-way trip to the U.S. to escape.  They figure the uncertainty and danger of sending the children away is better than the “certain death” (as one refugee put it) faced at home.  After all, America is the land of prosperity, and written at the base of the greatest symbol of America, the Statue of Liberty, are the words from a poem:

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Given the number of kids shot to death in the U.S., including all the school shootings, I'm not sure if America is really the best choice of places to send their kids.

Very few illegal immigrants are coming to the U.S. for some sort of nefarious purpose.  Most come either to try to earn some money for family back in their poverty-stricken home, or they are refugees like these children.  Sadly, instead of offering to help these refugees, many of whom are children, the ultraconservatives would turn them away, or protest the way they are being bussed to holding facilities.  (Hilariously, one GOP candidate made a big show of blocking a bus of these illegal children, only to discover that these were American kids headed to the local YMCA camp).  Some people would even shoot them on sight! 

Just to help stir up the far right, GOP talking-mouth Sean Hannity and extreme gun-guy Governor Rick Perry went on a tour of the Rio Grande in gunboats bristling with mounted full-auto machine guns.

One group of pro-gun extremists in Michigan, openly carrying assault rifles and handguns, gathered supporters to protest the illegal immigrants.  Naturally, they were sure to inject a healthy dose of anti-government and anti-Obama bloviating.  There’s lots of paranoid speculation about these children carrying diseases or working for drug-runners, or even out to rape American women, just to make them seem more evil and inhuman, instead of the lost children that they are.  (Get the facts about these kids HERE).

Militia groups are answering the “call of duty” as they see it, to “help” law enforcement patrol the border.  Don't these people have jobs and families?  Is their hatred of illegal immigrants really that strong, or is it that their lives back home are so bad?  From an article:
Some of the militia "border patrol" extremists
The militia groups have set up a "command post" in Von Ormy, about 20 miles south of downtown San Antonio, Davis told KRGV on Tuesday. Von Ormy Mayor Art Martinez de Vara did not immediately return a request for comment.

"We have patriots all across this country who are willing to sacrifice their time, money even quit their jobs to come down and fight for freedom, liberty and national soveringhty," Davis said in the interview.

Davis deleted his Facebook and YouTube accounts, including a 21-minute video in which he describes plans for "securing the border:" "How?" he asked on the video. "You see an illegal. You point your gun dead at him, right between his eyes, and you say, 'Get back across the border or you will be shot.' "
One might question their patriotism, though, since these same groups are calling for a “second revolution” against our government if the Feds try to stop them.   From another article, quoting a militia organizer named Chris Davis:
He also urged militia members to “start the next 1776 right there on the border” if they were confronted by law enforcement authorities.
“It is time that we start taking back our national sovereignty,” Davis says.  …

“I believe in the King James Bible, The Constitution, and Bill of Rights!” he says. “I am a Future Veteran of the Refounding. Molon Labe! III%! Spirit of 1776!”

Militia organizer Chris Davis and extremist pals
It turns out that Davis and his fellows were active at the Bundy ranch (you know, Cliven Bundy, the seditious guy who has been illegally sponging off the Federal government for 15 years and then called for armed militias to protect him from arrest?), and was dishonorably discharged from the military.  Some “patriot!”  From an article:
The Texas militia, known as "Operation Secure Our Border," is being led by Chris Davis, a 37-year-old truck driver who was discharged from the Army in 2001 "under other than honorable conditions in lieu of trial by court martial," according to a summary of Davis' military service obtained by the San Antonio Express-News.

The details of Davis' discharge are protected from public view through the Privacy Act of 1974. Davis, originally from Florida, served in the Army from 1996-2001 as a mechanical systems operator-maintainer and was ranked as a private at the time of his discharge.

He does not appear to have any arrests, according to public record sources. Last year, Davis was one of three men in the group Open Carry Texas cited by the San Antonio Police Department for disorderly conduct while openly carrying rifles outside a Starbucks. The incident sparked an open carry rally at the Alamo that drew hundreds of armed protesters.

Huh. Imagine that. This extremist “hatriot” is also an “open carryintimidator demonstrator (they can’t seem to learn about how their movement keeps backfiring.  But I digress...).

Naturally, law enforcement doesn’t want their “help” and recognize it as dangerous.  From one article:
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection opposed the militias through a statement, saying they "could have disastrous personal and public safety consequences."

And from another article:
Hidalgo County sheriff Eddie Guerra said the militia was not needed in the Rio Grande Valley.
“We don’t need their services on our border,” Guerra said. “If we ever did, I’m sure we have enough good people in Hidalgo County that I can call up.”

Well, how could all of this go wrong?  I mean, if it’s legal to carry loaded assault weapons around and they have “patriotic” intentions, shouldn’t we want the help of these militias?

Consider the case last year where three heavily armed militia “border guard” members got into a confrontation with a real law enforcement.  One of them pulled his assault rifle out and threatened a sheriff’s deputy, thinking for some reason the deputy was an illegal alien, or something.  What followed was a standoff that nearly turned bloody:

On Saturday night, authorities say, Glendale resident Richard Malley pointed a semiautomatic rifle at a sheriff's deputy in the Vekol Valley, provoking a standoff that lasted until the deputy could convince Malley that he was a legitimate law-enforcement officer.
Malley, 49, was arrested on suspicion of aggravated assault involving a law-enforcement officer and released Sunday after posting a $10,000 bail.
Robert Deatherage, 48, and Robert Crooks, 63, who along with Malley were patrolling the drug-smuggling corridor running through the desert south of Interstate 8 and Gila Bend, were not arrested or cited.
Deputy Pat Arend, who reported staring down the barrel of Malley's AR-15, said it is a small miracle that neither he nor Malley was shot in the brief encounter.
Arend said he initially assumed that Malley, dressed in tactical gear, was another law-enforcement officer working in the area when they encountered each other after 9:30p.m. outside Gila Bend.
"The reason there wasn't a shooting is because, to me, he was passing himself (off as) law enforcement, so the last thing I'm going to do is shoot a cop," Arend said.
"If I would have pulled my gun, and he's thinking I'm a drug smuggler, he's going to shoot. I asked the guy later, 'What would you have done if I had my gun out?' And there was dead silence."
It was blind luck that no one was shot.  He was almost a cop-killer.
Militia "border patrol" organizer J.T. Ready

Militia “border patrols” don’t have a good record, do they?

One very active advocate for militia border patrols was a guy named J.T. Ready.  He was very outspoken, with news coverage and even GOP political involvement as a precinct committee person, Tea Party speaker, and even Sheriff candidate.  Until 2012.  That’s when this neo-Nazi racist and militia organizer shot to death his girlfriend and her 5-year old daughter before killing himself.  Child killer.  Murderer.  He had had run-ins with the law before, as had many of his pals.  Seems they didn’t need to fear illegal immigrants as much as themselves and each other!

But that wasn’t the first time, by any means, that such a militia border patrol turned violent.  There was also the case of the 2009 murder of the Flores family, who were American citizens in Arizona.  Three members of the Minutemen American Defense militia, led by a woman named Shawna Forde, invaded the home, robbed it, and shot the three family members there.  Two of them died, including a 9-year old girl and her father.  The mother was wounded but was able to pretend she was dead, then called 911.  All of these militia members had had run-ins with the law before, yet were still able to possess assault weapons and other guns.  And all of them considered themselves “patriots.”  Child killers, murderers, and thugs.
Militia "border patrol" organizer Shawna Forde

But these cases aren’t exactly outliers.  Militias have a long history of crimes and mass murder plots.  These aren’t the militias of the Revolutionary War, no matter what these yahoos may think.

We have a dangerous situation in America.  We are a nation that supposedly prides itself on diversity and compassion.  Let’s put that in perspective and try to live up those ideals, shall we, instead of fomenting hate, calling for the deaths of foreigners, and marching around the desert with guns playing “soldier.”

UPDATE (8/10/14):  The problem of extremist militias "guarding" the border has expanded, particularly since certain far-right Texas politicians have given their blessing to these dangerous individuals.  From an article:
And now, they have the blessing of a sitting Texas lawmaker. After touring the Rio Grande Valley near the border, Republican state Rep. Doug Miller claimed that the militias “have a right to be there” and that they “are not currently a problem.” According to Miller, he was told that the militias “are on private property, helping ranchers and owners to keep illegals coming onto or through their property … and there haven’t been any problems.”
Miller is not the highest-ranking Texas official who has dismissed criticism of armed vigilantes patrolling the Texas border. Late last month, the 12 Democratic members of Texas’ congressional delegation penned a letter to Greg Abbott, the state’s attorney general and the Republican candidate to be Texas’ next governor. In it, the 12 lawmakers quote a militia leader who said that “You see an illegal. You point your gun dead at him, right between the eyes, and you say, ‘Get back across the border or you will be shot.’” They also ask Abbott to “denounce the actions of these militia groups and clarify the jurisdiction these militia groups have to patrol alongside local law enforcement and Border Patrol agents.”
A spokesperson for Abbott dismissed the letter as a “partisan political stunt.”