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art by Favianna Rodriguez

Art by Favianna Rodriguez

“ You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. ” – César Chávez, UFW

Latinos, Immigrant Advocates Nationwide Send Unambiguous Message in Light of Brisenia’s Murder: Stop the Hate, We are Watching

Feb. 16, 2011

Tucson, Arizona – As Latinos and immigrant rights advocates from all over the United States applaud the guilty verdict in the trial of Shawna Forde - a leader of the hate-group Minuteman American Defense (MAD) convicted of murdering 9 year-old Brisenia Flores and her father Raul Flores - a strong message resonates throughout the nation: We Are Watching. We are watching those who provide a platform to promote hate-crimes and call on the media to be socially responsible by reporting the linkages between Forde’s proven extremism and that of extremist groups she represents.

On May 2009, Forde and two accomplices – MAD Operations Director Jason Bush and local MAD member Albert Gaxiola – broke into the Flores’ home in the border town of Arivaca, Arizona. Without compunction, they shot Raul Flores, his wife Gina Gonzalez and their daughter Brisenia who screamed, “Please don’t shoot me!” before being shot twice in the head; Gonzalez survived the incident.

Brisenia’s murder has galvanized the entire Latino community. This gruesome act reflects in the starkest terms the anti-immigrant, anti-Latino hatred promoted by extremist groups. Latinos – the fastest-growing and largest ethnic minority group in the U.S. – understand and experience the hatred gripping the United States. In response, Latinos and immigrant advocates are closely watching media outlets that provide a platform for hatred promoted by extremist groups like MAD and the Federation for American Immigration Reform – a group Forde represented on a PBS show, for instance.

The details revealed in the murder trial have touched us all in a deep and unique way; indeed, no one will forget Brisenia. These important details-the organized hatred, the dehumanization of Latinos, the utter disregard of a child’s innocence- reflect the deepening and mainstreaming of the most noxious and dangerous strands of hatred in the United States. The growth and expansion of this hatred moves us to continue efforts to make sure there are no more hate-crimes and to take action condemning those media outlets that help disseminate hatred.

We call on the all media to be socially responsible by, for example, reporting the intimate link between Forde’s proven extremism and that of extremist groups she represents, so that the intellectual authors of the anti-Latino, anti-immigrant industry that has been growing in the nation -and the violence they perpetrate- may be known, discussed and confronted with greater urgency.