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Published: Thursday, July 2, 2009, 12:16 p.m.

Forde case spurs more sharp debate among anti-illegal immigration groups

EVERETT -- The alleged murderous acts of an Everett woman who ran her own Minutemen organization continued to spark angry words today among leaders of national groups that have advocated border watches to fight illegal immigration.
William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration (ALIPAC), today issued an advisory to its members to avoid contact with American Border Patrol, a group that monitors the U.S.-Mexico border from Sierra Vista, Ariz. using airplanes and cameras The reason: involvement with Shawna Forde.
Forde, 41, of Everett, was arrested June 12 shortly after leaving the home of American Border Patrol's director Glenn Spencer. Spencer previously had allowed Forde to stay at his ranch while she was in Arizona for border watches and other activities involving the Minutemen American Defense organization she founded and ran.
Forde now is jailed on murder charges in connection with a deadly May 30 raid on a home of an Arivaca, Ariz family. Raul Flores, 29, and his daughter, Brisenia, 9, were killed when camouflage-wearing intruders took over the home while posing as law officers and then suddenly opened fire. The girl's mother also was shot, but she managed to arm herself with a handgun and drive the attackers away after a gun battle.
Pima County, Ariz., officials have alleged that Forde orchestrated the raid in hopes of finding cash and drugs to sell in Flores' home. She allegedly planned on using the money to fund her group.
Meanwhile, Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Orange County, Calif.-based Minutemen Project, wrote today that he finds it "alarming how some persons in the Minuteman movement have used the recent Arizona double homicide involving Shawna Forde as a glorious opportunity to allocate blame to those with whom they have targeted for abusive propaganda."
According to Gilchrist, Gheen's group and other anti-illegal immigration organizations "pointing the finger of blame are the same ones into which Shawna Forde had intermittent interaction, or in which she attempted to insert herself. Failing that, she created her own organization and operated independently."
Gilchrist previously had been a staunch Forde supporter. He stood by her even after amid questions about her connection to a string of violent events in Everett this winter. Those incidents included the Dec. 22 attempted murder of Forde's ex husband, her claim that she was raped and beaten a week later in a separate home-invasion attack, and her a gunshot wounding in an alley Jan. 15.
In an e-mail to The Herald this morning calling attention to his post, Gilchrist said Forde bears responsibility for her alleged criminal conduct. However, he also suggested that public criticism of Forde by ALIPAC and two other border-watch groups may have driven her over the edge and toward violence.
"Relentless attacks by these three groups via the internet upon her character may very well have fueled her anger to the point of no return," Gilchrist wrote.
In a follow-up message, Gilchrist made it clear that he doesn't condone Forde's alleged conduct, but he does believe that others in the Minutemen movement contributed to her volatility.
"That is an observation, not a justification for her actions," he wrote.
Gilchrist added a final note:
"Criminal mentalities are not created by the organizations or activist movements they join," he wrote. "They use an organization or activist movement as a veil to cloak their sinister intentions. Unfortunately, there are criminal-minded persons who will use the minuteman movement to conduct such agendas."

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