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July 18, 2013 0

Arizona Aryan Brotherhood Member Convicted Of Hate Crime For Threatening Phoenix Officer

A Phoenix jury on July 10, 2013, con­victed a self-professed mem­ber of the Ari­zona Aryan Broth­er­hood, Brian Lee Harm, of one felony count of threat­en­ing the Phoenix Police Depart­ment offi­cer who had arrested him for tres­pass­ing in August 2012.  The con­vic­tion included a hate crime enhancement.brian-lee-harm

Accord­ing to the police report filed after Harm’s arrest, the offi­cer encoun­tered Harm while respond­ing to a call about a white male wav­ing his hands in the air and yelling at pass­ing vehi­cles.   When the offi­cer found him, Harm—who matched the descrip­tion called in—was attempt­ing to force open the slid­ing glass doors of a nearby office build­ing.  The offi­cer, and a sec­ond offi­cer who soon arrived at the scene, spoke with Harm and even­tu­ally placed him under arrest for trespassing. 

Fol­low­ing his arrest, Harm became angry and abu­sive, soon laps­ing into repeated crude eth­nic slurs.  Accord­ing to the offi­cer, Harm’s rhetoric esca­lated, with Harm threat­en­ing to injure or kill the offi­cer and to “make trou­ble” for all offi­cers in the area.  When Harm stated that he was a mem­ber of the Aryan Broth­er­hood (a ref­er­ence to the Ari­zona Aryan Broth­er­hood, a large and vio­lent white suprema­cist prison gang), the offi­cer began record­ing Harm’s remarks.

Among the recorded remarks Harm made was a threat to “beat nig­ger chil­dren, too, I don’t fu–in’ care.”  Harm said that he would have “all my Broth­er­hood broth­ers” come to the neigh­bor­hood and “you’ll pay the ulti­mate price.”  He told the offi­cer that “ni—rs won’t be safe in this neigh­bor­hood” and that “it’s gonna be tough to go out to din­ner for you now.”  His remarks included many more sim­i­lar com­ments, includ­ing addi­tional threats.

Pros­e­cu­tors charged harm with felony threat­en­ing or intim­i­dat­ing as well as assist­ing a crim­i­nal street gang.  In Harm’s July 2013 trial, the jury acquit­ted Harm of the assist­ing a gang charge but found him guilty of threat­en­ing or intim­i­dat­ing.  Fur­ther­more, in the aggra­va­tion phase of delib­er­a­tions, the jury found that the offense involved the inflic­tion or threat­ened inflic­tion of seri­ous phys­i­cal injury, that the defen­dant com­mit­ted the offense with the intent to pro­mote, fur­ther or assist crim­i­nal con­duct by a crim­i­nal street gang, and that the offense was a bias crime (i.e., a hate crime).

Harm is cur­rently in the Mari­copa County Jail await­ing sentencing.

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June 20, 2013 0

Former Border Vigilante Leader Arrested For Child Molestation

chris-simcox

Credit: Mari­copa County Sheriff’s Office

Phoenix, Ari­zona police offi­cers arrested once-prominent vig­i­lante leader Chris Sim­cox, 52, on June 19 on child molesta­tion charges.  Author­i­ties have charged Sim­cox with two counts of child molesta­tion, one count of attempted child molesta­tion, and two counts of sex­ual con­duct with a minor.  Accord­ing to police, Sim­cox had allegedly molested sev­eral vic­tims, all girls under 10 years of age, within recent months.

The arrest marked a new low for Sim­cox, who at one point in the mid-2000s achieved national noto­ri­ety for his high-profile vig­i­lante patrols along the Arizona-Mexico bor­der as one of the founders of the Min­ute­man Project.  How­ever, his fall from grace was just as rapid as his ascent.

Sim­cox spent his early adult years as a kinder­garten teacher in Cal­i­for­nia, before mov­ing to Tomb­stone, Ari­zona, where he bought a tiny news­pa­per, the Tomb­stone Tum­ble­weed, in 2002.  Sim­cox used the news­pa­per as an out­let for his anti-immigration views and soon issued a call for a “Cit­i­zens Bor­der Patrol Mili­tia” to patrol the bor­der with Mex­ico.  Sim­cox sub­se­quently started an early bor­der vig­i­lante group, Civil Home­land Defense.  By 2004, he had received pro­ba­tion and a fine fol­low­ing a con­vic­tion for car­ry­ing a firearm onto a national park.

In 2005, Sim­cox banded together with Cal­i­forn­ian Jim Gilchrist to form the Min­ute­man Project, a high-profile effort to get main­stream sup­port for bor­der vig­i­lante activ­i­ties.  In this, Sim­cox and Gilchrist were at first quite suc­cess­ful, gar­ner­ing national atten­tion and spawn­ing var­i­ous “Min­ute­man” groups across the coun­try.  For a brief period of time, Sim­cox could hob­nob with politi­cians such as Arnold Schwarzeneg­ger and Rick Perry. 

How­ever, Sim­cox and Gilchrist could not get along and parted ways, split­ting the Min­ute­man Project into two sep­a­rate orga­ni­za­tions.  Simcox’s half became the Min­ute­man Civil Defense Corps (MCDC) and focused on bor­der vig­i­lante activ­ity.  Because of Simcox’s lack of lead­er­ship skills, as well as finan­cial scan­dals, the group went into decline, shed­ding mem­bers and chap­ters.  In 2009, Sim­cox attempted a dif­fer­ent tac­tic, step­ping down from MCDC lead­er­ship and announc­ing he would attempt to unseat Ari­zona Sen­a­tor John McCain.  This was no more suc­cess­ful; by early 2010, he dropped out of the race.

The molesta­tion charges against Sim­cox are the first such crim­i­nal charges against him, but not the first alle­ga­tions against him related to chil­dren.  In 2005, Deb­o­rah Crews, one of Simcox’s ex-wives, told the South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter that in 1998 Sim­cox allegedly “tried to molest our daugh­ter when he was intox­i­cated.”  No charges were appar­ently filed.  A sec­ond ex-wife, Kim Dun­bar, filed a suc­cess­ful legal appeal for full cus­tody of their son.  She alleged that Sim­cox had vio­lent rages, includ­ing one inci­dent in which she said Sim­cox slapped his four-year-old son hard enough to leave a mark last­ing days.

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April 27, 2012 1

BDS Movement Gains Support of Activist Chicano Student Group

Lead­ers of the National Movimiento Estu­di­antil Chi­cano de Aztlán (MEChA), a Chi­cano stu­dent orga­ni­za­tion, recently voted to endorse the Pales­tin­ian call for Boy­cott, Divest­ment, and Sanc­tions (BDS). The endorse­ment was approved at the group’s 18th annual con­fer­ence in Phoenix, Ari­zona, on March 30. A press release issued after the con­fer­ence noted that BDS is nec­es­sary in light of Israel’s “mil­i­tary occu­pa­tion and set­tle­ment of Palestine.”

The Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine (SJP) chap­ters at Ari­zona State Uni­ver­sity and the Uni­ver­sity of Ari­zona helped MeChA arrive at its endorse­ment and, accord­ing to the state­ment, led sev­eral work­shops on the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict at the conference.

One of the ses­sions was called “Con­crete Con­nec­tions,” which com­pared the U.S.-Mexico bor­der fence to the Israeli secu­rity fence in the West Bank, and explored the poten­tial for “cross-movement build­ing” for Pales­tini­ans and Latin-Americans. The state­ment about the con­fer­ence con­cluded with, “Together, these civil soci­eties – from Ari­zona to Pales­tine – are work­ing towards one goal of fight­ing oppres­sion and resist­ing every­day injustice.”

Ear­lier this week, the Pacific North­west chap­ter of MeChA held a regional con­fer­ence at The Ever­green State Col­lege (TESC) in which it endorsed BDS as well. Dur­ing the con­fer­ence, MeChA-Evergreen invited other activists involved in the divest­ment cam­paign (known as TESC Divest!) to par­tic­i­pate in a teach-in con­nect­ing the BDS move­ment to the “indige­nous strug­gles in the Americas.”

A state­ment issued by the group read, “We rec­og­nize that our peo­ples’ his­tor­i­cal and present strug­gles — against depor­ta­tion, occu­pa­tion, exploita­tion, and dehu­man­iza­tion — in Ari­zona, in the bor­der, and in the United States — not only coin­cide, but are also con­nected to Pales­tini­ans’ strug­gle against Israeli mil­i­tary occu­pa­tion and set­tle­ment of Palestine.”

TESC Divest! has been spear­headed by SJP at Ever­green, as well as the newly formed Olympia, Wash­ing­ton, chap­ter of Jew­ish Voice for Peace (JVP).

In recent years, there has been grow­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion between MeChA, which has approx­i­mately 400 chap­ters around the United States, and Pales­tin­ian sol­i­dar­ity groups. Cam­pus chap­ters of MeChA and SJP (largely on West Coast cam­puses and espe­cially at Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia schools) have co-sponsored a vari­ety of events seek­ing to high­light con­nec­tions between Pales­tini­ans and the Latino-American community.

MeChA chap­ters have even co-sponsored anti-Israel events on cam­pus that have fea­tured extreme speak­ers and anti-Semites, includ­ing an appear­ance by Amir Abdul Malik Ali at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, River­side in May 2009. At the appear­ance, Malik Ali claimed that U.S. politi­cians are con­trolled by Israel, warned that although “many are afraid of Zionists…Muslims are not afraid” and described Israelis as “the new Nazis.”

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