Friday, July 19, 2024

Guest Blogger Series: Henry Fernandez “Arizona Under Fire”

Jury Convicts Minuteman Leader of Murder

A jury in Pima County, Arizona, convicted Shawna Forde of the murder of 9-year-old Brisenia Flores and her father in a May 2009 home invasion. The jury will now decide whether Forde will face the death penalty. Forde’s alleged co-conspirators will go on trial in the coming months.

Forde was well known in anti-immigrant circles long before she planned the murder of a beautiful young child in a mercilessly violent home invasion in which Brisenia apparently pled for her life before being shot in the head. Forde led Minuteman American Defense, one of many “Minuteman” militia groups that parade around in army fatigues with guns hoping to send the inaccurate message that the United States is under invasion by immigrants coming across our southern border. Forde was quite close to Minuteman founder Jim Gilchrist. According to The Herald in Everett, Washington, she had been appointed to a leadership position by the other major national leader of the Minuteman movement, Chris Simcox.

Two other horrendous crimes have defined recent Arizona politics. In March 2010, rancher Robert Krentz was killed in a still-unsolved murder. State Sen. Russell Pearce and later Gov. Jan Brewer used Krentz’s death to justify the need for S.B. 1070, Arizona’s “papers please” law, which a federal court struck down for violating basic constitutional rules.

Just a month ago, 9-year-old Christina Green and five others were murdered in a shooting spree at an Arizona grocery store. The accused gunman, an apparently deranged young man named Jared Loughner, was targeting Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. President Obama used this killing spree to call on Americans to tone down the rhetoric which has tarnished our political dialogue.

Both of these Arizona killings received major media coverage. Loughner’s trial will likely evoke national conversations about the death penalty, the right of those with mental health issues to own guns, and the strength of the American justice system. The press will rightly return again and again to the lives lost and especially the loss of a talented, young 9-year-old girl.

Fox News drove the story that Krentz’s murderer was likely an undocumented immigrant, though there appear to be no actual suspects. If anyone is ever arrested for this murder, we can expect either crowing from the anti-immigrant crowd on nightly news shows across the country or alternatively their nationwide silence, depending on whether the murderer has brown skin.

But the national press has barely covered little Brisenia’s murder. And there has been no call for a change in policy or temperament. Her classmates cried in a powerful show of emotion when they learned of her death but national news stations did not run to tell their stories.

So here are some questions that do need to be asked now that the justice system has revealed the truth about the murderer known as Shawna Forde:

  • When Minutemen hooligans arm themselves and race up and down the border in jeeps hunting human beings, why should anyone be surprised that some of these people, including possibly Forde’s alleged co-conspirator Jason Bush, may indeed be white supremacists and mass murderers of people of color?
  • Why has Fox News, which has given ample air time to Minutemen Gilchrist and Simcox, never asked them how leaders they heavily promoted might come to kill little girls? One can only imagine what Fox News would be asking if a staff member of a Latino civil rights organization had killed a child. Since Gilchrist and Simcox have both been on Sean Hannity’s show, he should be able to track them down quickly in his Rolodex to get an answer.
  • Do lies about extreme violence on the border, including a whopper told by Gov. Brewer that police found severed heads in the desert, create an environment where extreme views become mainstream? After all, if a governor of an American state can lie about immigrants and violence to win an election, is it any surprise that neo-Nazis now march in downtown Phoenix?

But possibly the biggest question the national press should ask itself, and all of us should ask ourselves, is why hasn’t this murder of a 9-year-old girl been front-page news all over the country? What about her makes her less than newsworthy?

Henry Fernandez was the founding executive director of LEAP, a nationally recognized child development program serving over 1,200 low income youth, primarily public housing residents, in Connecticut. He is principal of Fernandez Advisors, LLC a strategic and management consulting firm counseling businesses, foundations, non-profits, and government agencies. He has been interviewed by a diverse set of media ranging from The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and The Wall Street Journal, to Variety, Black Enterprise, and “Good Morning America;” as well as local print, television, and radio news.  Fernandez is a Senior Fellow at American Progress focusing on state and municipal policy.


  1. Nice attempt on Henry Fernandez’s part to hang the innocent, but, fortunately, some of our nation’s rule of law still prevails over predatory witch-hunting.

    Mr. Fernandez might be just a little bit convincing if he did not come across as such a La Raza (“The Race”) Brown Beret supremacist.

    In typical propagandist fervor, Fernandez blames all of the world’s ills on everyone but latinos, illegal aliens, or drug dealers.

    It is indeed tragic that a nine-year-old girl was murdered by charlatans posing as patriotic minutemen. It is also equally tragic that so many U.S. residents are murdered each day at the hands of illegal aliens. Furthermore, just as tragic is someone like Fernandez who exploits a horrific incident for his own political capital.

    Approximately 80% of the illegal aliens in the United States migrate from Mexico and Central America. In that migration are a large number of criminal mentalities who have come to the US to conduct criminal enterprises rather than stay in their homelands and march for needed reforms in their homelands.

    Finally, it is sad that everyday U.S. citizens have to bring continued national attention to the ongoing lawlessness that insults U.S. immigration policies, laws, and our natiion’s domestic tranquility.

    If the federal and state governments cared about border security and a nation governed under the rules of law as opposed to the rule of mobs of illegal aliens, then there would not be a need for the Minuteman Project. The Project could then devote its resources to other serious issues, like relieving over-taxation, or alleviating the mutual racism fostered among the various races, colors and creeds comprising the United States of America by the bloviated rhetoric of Henry Fernandez.

    On behalf of my Mexican son-in-law and my two Mexican grand kids,

    E Pluribus Unum,

    Jim Gilchrist, President, The Minuteman Project

  2. Kudos to Latinovations for posting my comments. Most of the time those opposed to my existence do not publish my words on their blogs. Surprisingly, at least you support free speech. Thumbs up.

    Jim Gilchrist

  3. Mr. Gilchrist,

    Just how does Mr. Fernandez come off as a brown beret supremacist? I don’t see him talking about anything here except the facts. Little Brisenia Flores was murdered in cold blood by one of your cohorts.

    I just don’t know how you can so misconstrue Mr. Fernandez’s words. Seems more like you’re trying to validate yourself there with Latinos with your line referencing to your “Mexican son-in-law and two Mexican grand kids.” That is just pathetic.

    We’re all concerned with border security and immigration but this is not a white and black issue. If you think you’re going to solve the problem by completely sealing off the border you are wrong. Haven’t you realized that by now?

    We need immigrant labor. If you have several leaks in a pipe you’re not going to seal up just one hole and expect the problem to go away right? Why don’t I see you taking up arms for a real solution?