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The detective had been given permission to address the forum by then-Mesa Police Chief George Gascón. Nevertheless, when several local nativists, and even one neo-Nazi from California, complained in writing to the Mesa PD that Browning was a "dirty cop," the department launched an internal investigation of Browning ("Lynch Mobbers," January 17, 2008).
Ultimately, Browning was cleared, but the department's actually taking such complaints seriously shows how touchy the subject of a nativist-skinhead overlap was for them.
Ready's hostility toward Browning also was motivated by an April 2007 incident in which Ready was pulled over by the Arizona Department of Public Safety for driving with fictitious license plates. In his vehicle, among white-power literature, was a 9-millimeter Beretta, a device that allowed Ready to change red traffic lights to green, night-vision goggles, and a map.
As Ready was under arrest, Browning became involved in the investigation. He obtained a search warrant to have Ready's car seized, suspecting that he had transported explosives in it. Browning says he had the car's rug sent to the ATF for analysis.
The agency later returned the rug, Browning said, without a determination of whether there were traces of explosives.
Meanwhile, Ready went on a campaign against his pursuer, appearing at a Mesa City Council meeting to denounce Browning and mentioning Browning by name and badge number in Ready's most infamous speech ever.
The speech occurred on June 16, 2007, during a nativist rally at the Arizona Capitol. Dressed in a suit and an American-flag tie, Ready offered what can only be described as a blueprint for American fascism: U.S. Marine divisions blocking borders and ports to fortress America, with one division left free to mop up the interior.
"We are not going to ask anymore," Ready told an enthusiastic crowd, some of whom had been present to oppose Browning's March lecture. "We're going to start yanking people out by their collars."
Whose collars would be jerked? All those "out of touch with reality" on the subject of illegal immigration, including recalcitrant members of the judicial branch "in their little fancy black dresses."
The pumped-up crowd applauded it all, including Ready's slam of Browning's use of the term "domestic terrorism" at the ADL event. Ready's tirade was taped and can be seen online.
Covering the rally for New Times, I followed Pearce and Ready after the latter's speech as they worked the crowd together. I took photos of them shaking hands and slapping backs.
I have detailed Ready and Pearce's close relationship many times. Ready referred to Pearce as a "surrogate father," and Pearce once mentored Ready and endorsed his run for the Mesa City Council.
Despite all the revelations concerning Ready, Pearce maintained ties with the national socialist until August 2008, when he was forced to publicly disavow Ready during a contentious GOP primary battle for the state Senate.
However, the Pearce-Ready connection was indicative of a larger problem than just Pearce's poor judgment in friends. It represented the willingness of anti-immigrationists to accept dangerous reactionaries into their midst.
Long before Ready began parading with swastika-wearing members of the National Socialist Movement, he had advocated placing a minefield on the U.S.-Mexico border, and he had been involved with vigilante outfits such as Ranch Rescue and that group's sketchy members, including heavily armed wack-job Jack Foote.
Eventually, as I and others used Ready's presence in local anti-immigration groups, like United for a Sovereign America, to expose the larger problem — a tsunami of rage, racism, and bigotry sweeping Arizona — Ready became persona non grata at nativist events.
Ready's activities took an even harder turn toward the right. He attended white supremacist events here and in other states, he became for a short time a member of the National Socialist Movement, the largest neo-Nazi organization in America, and he actively recruited for the NSM.
One of those Ready recruited to the NSM was Jeff Harbin, son of Jerry Harbin, a well-known local white supremacist. On January 14, 2011, following an FBI investigation, Jeff Harbin was arrested and charged with possession and transportation of 13 improvised explosive devices, or IEDs. He's now doing two years in the federal pen after copping a plea deal.
Interestingly, one of the attachments to the U.S. Attorney's indictment of Harbin was an online article by then-independent reporter Nick Martin on Ready's chasing "narco-terrorists" in the desert and his continued call for landmines on the border.
The article seemed to dovetail with Harbin's admission that the IEDs he had created were meant for some unexplained use on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Browning tells me he suspects Ready of murdering illegal immigrants in the desert. He noted that far-right radicals had discussed creating an international incident on the border that would result in its being closed. The FBI also has mentioned, vaguely, that it investigated Ready in regard to deaths in the desert.