Kidnappers or militia? Tomato, tomahto.
Cal Perry reported today that this morning New Mexico Police had removed the last of "armed private citizens" from its border with Mexico. Stephanie Ruhle asked him to explain who the group was and what they were doing. They call themselves the "United Constitutional Patriots," and their leader, Larry Mitchell Hopkins, was arrested for possessing firearms as a felon. They hilariously refer to themselves as "citizen-journalists." Yeah, citizen journalists who are heavily armed, wear head-to-toe camouflage and track and detain migrants trying to cross the border into the United States. Here's the thing — as Perry reported, the ACLU says that detention is technically, well, KIDNAPPING. If you wanna get LEGAL about it.
The UCP have absolutely zero legal authority to do this, and are not officially affiliated with Customs and Border Patrol or the New Mexico Police in any way. So, according to themselves, they're just helping out. If they have to pistol-whip migrants seeking asylum, hey, they're just trying to be good Americans. Even if they have to steal sh*t from CBP to terrify innocent people, it's for a good cause, right? Protecting 'Murica. We don't have to worry about lawlessness or violence from these well-intentioned, kind-hearted vigilantes, amiright?
Oh, hey, don't call them "vigilantes," though.
And oh, yeah, on their violence? Feel free to grab lunch and take a deep dive into their two-decade history of murder and child abuse. Our friend, David Neiwert posted an exhausive rundown on Daily Kos outlining the background of these groups and their propensity for attracting racists and socioopaths.
Moreover, the border militias are not just a weird local phenomenon. They are a national one. They have created a national legacy, one in which they have altered the shape of public discourse and heightened fear and hatred of immigrants.
The most obvious of these, of course, is The Wall: thanks to their fence project, the notion that erecting a simple barrier to solve the complex problem of immigration has become embedded right-wing conventional wisdom, touted most loudly by Donald Trump.
Donald Trump and Fox News, that is. Fox has gleefully touted these folks as heroes and helpers, and presented a sanitized, empathetic portrait of their criminal behavior to its
zombies viewers. They claimed the UCP leader was arrested because of "political pressure," not because of the danger he and the group posed. Never mind the fact that he admitted to the FBI his "militia" was training to murder (former) President Barack Obama and (former) Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Like I said in the beginning. Tomato, tomahto.