When Jared Loughner opened fire in Tucson on January 8th at Rep. Gabrielle Gifford’s Congress on Your Corner event, headlines understandably filled with the story and images of 9 year old victim Christina-Taylor Green. Her innocence and civic pride were rallying points in President Obama’s speech to the nation in the days following the shooting, but I couldn’t help but think about another 9 year old who lost her life in southern Arizona.
Her name was Brisenia Flores.
In 2009, she begged for her life before getting killed under orders by one of the founding members of the Minutemen Civil Defense Corp, just one of the many hydra-heads of border vigilante groups that roam the border region of Arizona. Today, justice was served:
A Pima County jury convicted Shawna Forde today of two counts of first-degree murder in the May 30, 2009 deaths of Arivaca residents Raul Junior Flores and his 9-year-old daughter, Brisenia.
The jury also convicted Forde of attempted first-degree murder in the shooting of Flores’ wife, Gina Gonzalez, as well as related aggravated assault and robbery counts.
Gonzalez started crying as soon as the first guilty verdict, the killing of her daughter, was read just before noon in a packed courtroom at Pima County Superior Court.
The jury deliberated for seven hours over two days. Jurors will now be asked if the death penalty ought to be considered.
The connection to the Minutemen and other so-called border defense groups is important to this story because Shawna Forde is just one point of the vigilante net that stretches across Cochise, Pima and Santa Cruz counties. One of her compatriots, who goes by the pseudonym Laine Lawless, made her own headlines last month during Forde’s trial:
On Tuesday, Laine Lawless, who manages a web site called “Justice for Shawna Forde,” objected to being ordered from the courtroom but was ordered to leave.
On Wednesday morning, as Forde’s sister, Melanie Aranda, was being questioned on the stand, a woman in a black wig and wearing a black overcoat entered the courtroom and sat down behind detectives.
A detective turned around, realized it was Lawless, and got the attention of Deputy County Attorney Rick Unklesbay, who asked the court to stop proceedings.
The jury was led from the courtroom and Leonardo was informed of the situation.
“Ms. Lawless is standing here in some sort of disguise,” Unklesbay said.
Leonardo questioned Lawless as to why she was in apparent violation of his earlier order regarding witnesses.
This piece of work is the founder of Border Guardians. You can use the Google for their site because I refuse to give their hate any traffic.
It’s my belief and one shared by the SPLC that the fallout from the Flores murders is what caused the fracturing of the Minutemen Civil Defense Corp into several smaller vigilante groups – a network that has many ties to current Senate President & SB1070 author Russell Pearce. JT Ready anyone?
The fever has not broken in Arizona, yet, but with today’s Guilty verdict we’re one step closer to greater justice for those of us who are disproportionately affected by a broken immigration system. Please help me and many other Latino/Latina bloggers tell Brisenia Flores’ story. It’s our hope that this nine year old girl can have the same effect on the nation as Christina-Taylor Green, reminding us of our shared humanity, and bring about a more level-headed discussion to resolve the complicated issues that face us all.