I don't know if any of you caught this little tidbit the other day over at the SPLC's Hatewatch, who got ahold of Minuteman movement cofounder Jim Gilchrist the day after my AlterNet expose on the Minutemen and Shawna Forde was published. It seems that Gilchrist adamantly denies that he had the conversation with Forde that I reported him having regarding her plans to rip off drug dealers:
Reached by Hatewatch yesterday, Gilchrist flatly denied that he had ever talked to Forde about robbing drug dealers and said she was not even in the car on the way to CWU. “This is bullshit,” Gilchrist said, adding that Forde “was just part of the audience” at the CWU talk. He also said he did not remember Carlucci driving to CWU.
So I guess it comes down to Mike Carlucci's word against Jim Gilchrist's. You probably wouldn't be surprised if I told you that not only does Carlucci have the ability to back up every word, he's only revealed the tip of the iceberg in terms of the depth of the Minutemen's relationship with Forde.
Moreover, it's a Minuteman's word against that of a respected private eye. Considering what we've been learning of late about the fine, upstanding character of the people the nativist border-watch movement attracted -- even beyond Shawna Forde -- that's not a hard choice to make.
First there was Forde. Then there was J.T. Ready, the neo-Nazi border watcher who ended his career by shooting up his girlfriend and her family and then shooting himself.
Now we have Todd Hezlitt, erstwhile companion of Shawna Forde and now a fugitive on the lam with someone's 15-year-old daughter:
You could chalk up some of border militiaman Todd Hezlitt's troubles to bad luck - who knew when he associated with Shawna Forde in 2008 that she would end up killing people the next year and drag his name into the mud?
But his most recent trouble - deputies say the 38-year-old Hezlitt ran away with a 15-year-old girlfriend - seems to be of his own doing.
Hezlitt was arrested in April and accused of two counts of sexual conduct with a minor, a student in the Flowing Wells Unified School District. Then on June 1, the Pima County Sheriff's Department reported that Hezlitt and the girl had both disappeared, apparently together.
He's facing felony charges of sexual conduct with a minor and has violated the terms of his release from jail by contacting the girl, causing an arrest warrant to be issued, Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Sgt. Dawn Barkman said.
You can see Hezlitt in this video of Forde's border-watch operation, taken by a Norwegian film crew in 2008. Hezlitt is the guy emerging from the tent at about the 1:45 mark and strapping on body armor:
There are other, more borderline cases of criminality, bad acts, or overt racism associated with people connected to this border movement. Jeffrey Harbin, for example, was convicted this year of making improvised explosive devices for use on the border, but I've not been able to find evidence he actually participated in border patrols. And of course, the inspiration for the citizen-border-patrol movement, Roger Barnett, was successfully sued for kidnapping and allegedly striking illegal immigrants.
In any case, this list is long and could be longer, but I think it explains why the citizen border patrollers continue to be viewed in the news media and some parts of the public with skepticism.