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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/30/11

Leak Reveals New Border Vigilante Group on Arizona Border

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Message Leah Nelson

from the SPLC

A 2010 U.S. Department of Homeland Security memo warned that a new Minuteman-style border vigilante group had popped up in Arizona that posed "a possibility of violence between armed civilians and smugglers."

The confidential memo -- dated April 28, 2010, and leaked last Thursday by LulzSec, a group that hacked the Arizona Department of Public Safety -- warned that an "unknown group" calling itself "A Concerned Citizen" was seeking recruits to help shut down a 30-mile section of Interstate 8. The idea was to create a roadblock, allegedly for the purpose of stopping any smugglers who might be traveling along the route.

"[I]t is not surprising that another contingent of Minuteman types has come to life. The tone of this information is quite unlike that of the MCDC Locked and Loaded Operation," the memo's author wrote, referring to Chris Simcox's nativist extremist group Minuteman Civil Defense Corps (MCDC) and appearing to suggest that the new group was even more militant. MCDC dissolved in March 2010 in part because it did not want to take legal responsibility for the potential actions of its fired-up volunteers after its leader announced a "locked and loaded" plan that encouraged volunteers to bring rifles with them to the border and "forcefully engage" the "criminals" who try to cross without documentation.

The memo continued: "If this new operation happens, there could be potential for human rights violations and a possibility of violence between armed civilians and smugglers or with law enforcement."

Hatewatch found evidence today that suggests that the "new" group was real and was, in fact, a descendant of MCDC, some of whose chapters apparently continued to function after the national organization fell apart last spring.

On May 6, 2010, a website called U.S. Border Fire Report -- a revolting anti-immigrant and anti-Mexican site that routinely publishes graphic images of the dismembered corpses of purported drug war victims -- announced a new "citizen activist opportunity." That opportunity, it said, was being offered by a group called "Concerned Citizens" that was seeking volunteers to camp out along Interstate 8 for a campaign of "deterrence by presence."

The announcement told potential volunteers that the event was "NOT" sponsored by or related to MCDC or any other Minuteman group, but explained that several groups' mailing lists had been used to "get the word out." It said that the area was "very dangerous" and that volunteers should be prepared to "defend themselves" in encounters with "armed drug lords."

The DHS memo also related a March 27, 2010, tip to the Border Patrol from a man calling himself Daniel Webster. Webster, it said, told authorities that he and "a group of concerned citizens" had seen a cluster of vehicles transporting undocumented immigrants along Interstate 8. The language Webster used suggested that he may have been a part of the Concerned Citizen group.

Webster told Border Patrol agents he was not affiliated with any civilian vigilante or Minuteman group. He said that he and a group of volunteers would be camping in the I-8 for the next few days to "observe and report criminal activity," according to the DHS memo. Investigators who followed up on Webster's tip were unable to locate the alleged vehicles, the memo says. "The possibility exists that [Webster] might be involved in the organizing of [A Concerned Citizen], or that he might be recruited by the organization," the memo adds.

A May 19, 2010, posting on the U.S. Border Fire Report website seems to confirm this. Describing Concerned Citizens' "low profile" campaign along Interstate 8 further, the article quotes a member named Daniel Webster saying, "This is not a Minuteman or extremist group-sponsored event, just a call to action by a group of Concerned Citizens."

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Leah Nelson is a writer for the Southern Poverty Law Center. Her article can be found at Hatewatch, a weekly summary of the latest news about hate and extremism compiled by the Southern (more...)
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