Arizona border-patrol militia reminiscent of [the racist] Wild West
hunterbadbear at earthlink.net
Wed Dec 11 04:23:33 MST 2002
Note by Hunterbear:
I grew up in small town/rural Northern Arizona and Western New Mexico. I'm
neither Yankee nor Easterner.
Here are two posts: One is a just-out newspaper article of today dealing
with para-military militia stuff on the Arizona/Mexico border -- "sociology"
that can be boiled down to one word: racism. It has nothing to do with the
sensible right to firearms usage or with principled self-defense. It's
old-line racist traditions [and all of its eternal greed connotations]
married to "drug store cowboyism" -- and it spells all-around trouble for
life, liberty, civil rights and just plain rationality.
The whole concept of Euro-American borders is irrational in its own right.
I've posted before on these so-called "border militias" -- and my second
post right here is a repost on the border region and some of its very
Arizona has had some very fine human beings -- Cochise and Geronimo, and
Racist stuff in Cochise County, some labor history, and the eternally good
words of George W.P. Hunt [Hunter Gray 2/20/02]
Note by Hunterbear:
I am very glad to quote herewith the time-honoured words of the "Old
Governor" of Arizona -- George W.P. Hunt: words which apply with the force
of an old-time single-jack metal miner's hammer to the current mess in which
our country swims today -- and to the people responsible for it.
This posted article deals with very current Klan-type, anti-Mexican
Anglo-racism centering in Cochise County, Arizona. Nothing new about these
vile goings on in this general region -- except that the nature and conduct
of the current US administration et al. and the generally poisonous national
mood have provided, in the minds of these thugs, carte blanche.
Fortunately, there have always been many decent and courageous people of all
ethnicities in the Border Country and well beyond in all directions. But the
history of this region has been dramatic and sanguinary.
Cochise County [Arizona], was the scene on July 12, 1917, of the
Phelps-Dodge Copper organized "Loyalty League" roundup and deportation of
1200 striking copper workers at Bisbee [not counting three that were
killed.] This was in the context of the great IWW-led copper strike that
stretched from Butte, Anaconda, and Great Falls down to the Mexican border.
The 1200 were taken without food or water by box cars and dumped at
Columbus, New Mexico. They were Chicano, Anglo, Oriental, and Native --
either members of the IWW or members of Mine-Mill [or both, a practice that
actually lingered through the 1950s in the Western copper situation.] The
Bisbee Deportation followed the July 10 deportation of about 100 IWW and
Mine-Mill members -- at Jerome, Arizona, just south of Flagstaff -- by a
"Loyalty League" organized by the United Verde Copper Company. These
workers were dumped in California and then driven back into Arizona by a
California sheriff's posse -- and finally imprisoned at Prescott, Arizona.
In the early morning hours of August 1, 1917, Frank H. Little, Cherokee
Indian and Chairman of the IWW General Executive Board, was taken from his
Butte boardinghouse by gunmen employed by the Anaconda Copper Company. With
a rope around his neck, he was dragged by automobile through the outlying
streets of Butte for two miles before being hanged from a railroad bridge
trestle. Frank Little, crippled from a car wreck at Jerome, was on crutches
and was in Butte to assist the strike in Montana where he had just delivered
a stirring anti-War speech. His funeral was the largest ever held in the
State of Montana.
No one was ever punished for any of these atrocities. But, soon after these
horrific events, the "liberal" Wilson administration moved through the
Justice Department to round up 150 top IWW leaders on charges of violating
the "Espionage Act" -- hastily passed legislation outlawing anything
construed as "interfering" with the War effort [including, of course,
strikes fundamentally motivated by static wages and rampant inflation.]
In three massive Federal trials in 1918 -- Chicago, Wichita, Sacramento --
the defendants were all convicted and sentenced to heavy prison terms.
Eventually, as earlier with also victimized Gene Debs, they were released by
President Warren Harding.
Arizona [with New Mexico] had only become a state in 1912 and its fiery
Governor George W.P. Hunt -- who had come into the Territory on a mule and
who was essentially a socialist -- later denounced the brutal vigilante
actions against copper workers in an extraordinary address before the
"At this juncture I am sorely troubled for lack of a word, a phrase, an
expression with which to give poignant utterance to that which is in my
heart; to adequately describe a certain sort of thing in human shape that
wears the outward semblance of a man, but yet is a craven cur; whose heart
is as malignant as a cesspool; whose mind is a sink of infamy. . . .Such a
thing is the "profiteering patrioteer," the detestable hypocrite who, with
sanctimonious demeanor, goes through the mummery of patriotic service,
though striving all the while to profit by his country's dire distress; to
vent a personal prejudice under the guise of patriotism, or to gain for
himself a pecuniary advantage under the starry folds of his country's flag
with which he drapes his sorry soulless figure. There is no word in all the
range of human tongue from Sanskrit to Anglo-Saxon with which to describe
this creature, so I abandon the effort in despair."
>From Vernon H. Jensen, Heritage of Conflict: Labor Relations in the
Nonferrous Metals Industry up to 1930 [Ithaca: Cornell University Press,
1950], pp. 426-427.
Hunter Gray [Hunterbear]
Wednesday, December 11, 2002, 12:00 a.m. Pacific
Arizona border-patrol militia reminiscent of Wild West
By Tom Gorman
Los Angeles Times
TOMBSTONE, Ariz. - If these were the days of frontier justice, newspaper
editor Chris Simcox would fit right in. With a .45-caliber handgun strapped
to his side, he rustles through river-bottom oaks and reeds, looking for
His prey: foreigners, and maybe terrorists, who illegally cross into the
United States from Mexico. His posse: 600 citizens who share his frustration
about the porous border.
Simcox, owner and editor of the Tombstone Tumbleweed, has formed an armed
militia to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border, fulfilling what he says is his
patriotic duty to thwart illegal immigrants by placing them under citizen
About a dozen members of the militia held their first strategy meeting
Saturday at the O.K. Cafe, a sourdough biscuit's throw away from the corral
where Marshal Virgil Earp, brothers Wyatt and Morgan and buddy John "Doc"
Holliday shot and killed three cowboys for carrying guns in town.
Townsfolk complain that the militia's activities will tarnish Tombstone.
Authorities and civil-rights activists warn that Simcox's tactics will lead
to lawsuits, if not injuries or deaths from gunfire.
"We're seriously concerned, because we could end up having citizens killing
people or getting harmed themselves," said Mary Frances Berry, chairwoman of
the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. The agency has asked the Justice
Department for a report on the militia's activities.
Others applaud Simcox. "He's drawing attention to a problem that's largely
ignored by politicians and agencies who are supposed to protect us," local
rancher Henry Harvey said.
Anger about the growing number of illegal immigrants crossing Cochise
County's 82-mile-long border with Mexico has been mounting for years.
The number of arrests more than doubled in two years to 438,489 in 2000 as
the Border Patrol heightened enforcement elsewhere in the Southwest and
immigrants found the borders near here easy to breach.
Immigrants arrested for committing crimes in the county cost Cochise County
nearly $5 million a year in police, court and jail costs, said Pat Call,
chairman of the county Board of Supervisors. "We're having to bear the brunt
of the federal government's failed border policy," Call said.
After the Border Patrol built sturdier fences, increased lighting and added
agents along this part of the border, the number of crossers caught dropped
to 156,950 in the past year, but critics argue that more needs to be done.
Simcox's militia, called the Civil Homeland Defense, is one of at least
three citizens groups formed along the U.S.-Mexico border to intimidate
illegal immigrants from entering the country.
"I don't really believe the militia will make that much of a difference,"
said Greg Moore, one of Homeland Defense's volunteers. "But we have to make
a statement to the government.
"We're not going out half-cocked, and we'll try to screen out all the
wackos," said Moore, who served in the Marine Corps and now operates a
Tombstone bed-and-breakfast inn.
Simcox hopes that deploying militia members visibly along the border 30
miles south of here, in small groups and in 24-hour shifts, will deter
illegal immigrants. Those who cross will be captured, handcuffed using
plastic ties, read their Miranda rights and placed under citizen arrest
until picked up by the Border Patrol, he said.
Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever is wary of citizen arrests. "There's not
a person in this county who hasn't experienced a great amount of frustration
over the federal government's lack of responsibility," he said. But that
doesn't allow Simcox to engage in activities that may be legally viewed as
kidnappings, Dever said, and "we're prepared to take action if necessary."
Simcox said he will screen members' criminal backgrounds and gun safety
knowledge by having them qualify for a state concealed-weapon permit. Guns
will be drawn only for life-and-death self-defense, he said, and if the
immigrants run, they will not be chased.
"There's no doubt someone will be killed one day - one of us - by drug
traffickers," he said.
Simcox and his supporters contend that illegal immigrants strain the
nation's drug-enforcement and health-care systems and burglarize ranches and
homes near the border. Simcox also worries that terrorists may sneak across
with biological or chemical weapons.
Tombstone's Wild West image drives the town's singular industry: tourism. A
stagecoach plies the historic main street where the original Bird Cage
Theater and Big Nose Kate's saloon are now crowded by souvenir shops and
Western clothing stores. Cowboys packing six-shooters and wearing dusters
sell tickets to re-enactments of shootouts.
Civil-rights activist and defense attorney Isabel Garcia said Simcox's call
to arms "is incendiary and outrageous."
"You can't have civilians taking the law into their own hands and detaining
people, especially if you're in no position to know for sure if a law is
broken," she said.
Legal issues aside, Mayor Dusty Escapule said he's "afraid some innocent
people are going to get hurt or killed, and we'll have an international
incident on our hands.
"I'm worried (Simcox is) going to attract radicals who want to go on a human
Copyright © 2002 The Seattle Times Company
Hunter Gray [Hunterbear]
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