News & Politics

Shawna Forde Blames Drugs for the Murder of Brisenia Flores, Maintains Innocence


Shawna Forde, the long-troubled anti-immigration vigilante associated with the Minutemen group, was found guilty yesterday in the murder of nine-year-old Brisenia Flores and her father, Raul, as part of a 2009 botched robbery in Arizona. We’ve followed the case with great interest, largely because the mainstream media mostly chose not to, despite (or perhaps because of) the complicated issues it raises about violent anti-immigrant sentiment toward Latinos in America. Forde, who could face the death penalty, remained calm as the verdict was read because “you can’t freak out with the whole world watching you,” she told The Daily Beast, who scored an exclusive jailhouse interview.

Terry Greene Sterling, one of the few reporters devoted to covering the oft-overlooked trial, spoke to Forde after the verdict by videophone. Forde took the opportunity to reassert her allegiance to the Minutemen, the border protection group that has attempted to distance themselves from her as a result of the murders:

The verdict was “surreal” to Forde, but she said she took it like a “pro.” As the leader of Minutemen American Defense, or MAD, which she described as a large organization of patriots, she said she’d learned to “take things step by step, revamp, assess, and move forward.”

Prosecutors allege that Forde and two accomplices entered the Flores home that night to steal drug money — Raul, Brisenia’s father, was known as a dealer — in order to fund their border protection mission. In the interview, Forde interestingly alludes to this theory in a crass, blame-shifting message to Brisenia’s mother, Gina Gonzalez:

“I know in her mind,” Forde said of Gonzalez, “I am guilty and she hates me. I know her tragedy is extremely sad.” But on the other hand, she said “people shouldn’t deal drugs if they have kids.”

The reporter notes that no drugs were found in the home. For the rest of the chilling interview with Forde, click here.

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