Maybe Arizonans Should Worry About Their White-supremacist Problem

It's more than a little ironic, isn't it, that Arizonans will work themselves into a frenzy -- to the point of passing a police-state ordinance like SB1070 -- because of a single case like the murder of border rancher named Robert Krentz, even though the crime is being widely blamed on Mexican drug cartel activity, which is actually a distinct issue largely separate from "illegal immigration". (Indeed, it's not even clear that in fact Krentz's murder came at the hands of Mexicans.)

And yet when a white supremacist drives up next to a mixed-race couple and opens fire with a shotgun because of their races, as happened last October, the case is greeted with a yawn. As was the man's arrest this week:

A man suspected of killing a 39-year-old woman in Phoenix in October was arrested in Livingston, Tenn., on Wednesday, a Livingston Police Department spokesman said Thursday morning.

Schmidt is suspected of opening fire on the woman and her friend last October in what Phoenix police believe could have been a racially motivated crime.

Aaron Schmidt, 28 waived his extradition rights Thursday and can be picked up by the Phoenix Police Department, said Greg Etheredge, chief of the Livingston Police Department. Authorities believe Schmidt has been in Livingston since June.

The woman and a friend, Jeffrey Wellmaker, 48, were walking in Palma Park, on 12th Street and Dunlap Avenue about 1:30 a.m. Oct. 3 when a heavily tattooed, bald White man confronted them.

Wellmaker, who is Black, said the tattooed man yelled, "What are you doing with that White woman," according to Phoenix police at the time of the shooting.

The friends didn't respond and kept walking.

The tattooed man followed the pair for a couple blocks, police had said. By the time the couple reached Fourth Street and Puget Avenue, Wellmaker saw a white four-door newer model sedan with tinted windows drive past them.

In the passenger seat was the tattooed man. That's when Wellmaker said the passenger pulled out a shotgun and shot two blasts at the couple, according to police. One struck the woman and the second blast missed them.

The story was largely buried in the Phoenix newspapers -- perhaps because Wellmaker and the unidentified woman who was killed were homeless, instead of middle-class ranchers.

It's the same way that the case of Shawna Forde and her gang of killer Minutemen has been downplayed by the Arizona media, not to mention the national media, particularly Fox News.

It's the same way that report of camo-bedecked vigilantes firing on Latino border crossers received zero attention in any media beyond a handful of blogs:

Sheriff Antonio Estrada said that according to his department’s incident report, five undocumented migrants had crossed into the United States and were walking through a canyon around 5 a.m. on Friday when two unidentified males wearing camouflage clothing shot at them with a high-powered rifle.

“The victims claimed no demands were made. They were just walking and fired upon,” said Estrada, who added that the group had not been robbed. Estrada said that when the group ran, one of the men, Manuel Esquer Gomez, 45, from Nogales, Sonora sustained a gunshot wound to the left forearm.

As the group continued, the men stumbled upon skeletal remains of what they thought were two people.

While little is known about the attackers, Sheriff Antonio Estrada has stated that “[i]t’s perturbing to hear of people with high-powered rifles and camouflage. It raises some real red flags.” He also told KVOA that the shooters might have been U.S. citizens. “I hate to think that is what we’re looking at but we’re not going to dismiss any possibilities,” Estrada stated. “They may be individuals who may be hunting illegal border crossers. That’s really a big concern for us.”

Arizona has a white supremacist problem -- one that has been exacerbated by the nativist immigrant-bashing that has been part and parcel of the right-wing approach to the issue in Arizona. Instead of inverting the reality, at some point they're going to have to face up to it -- especially because, eventually, Latinos and homeless white people are not going to be the only victims.


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