Longform

Chris Simcox's Life Arc Mirrors the Nativist Movement's Demise

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The May 2009 Arivaca killings didn't help. A botched home invasion in the small town near the border claimed the lives of 9-year-old Brisenia Flores and her father, Raul. The leader of this bloody robbery gone bad was Shawna Forde of Minuteman American Defense, or MAD.

Forde was arrested outside Spencer's ranch, and she and two others were charged with the murders. Forde now sits on Arizona's death row.

When it was learned that Forde was involved in the Arivaca slayings, the minuteman movement went into a tailspin, as Forde had ties to almost every major player, including Simcox.

In David Neiwert's definitive book on the killings, And Hell Followed with Her, Forde is identified as part of Simcox's entourage and as someone whom Simcox had considered for a leadership position in the MCDC's Washington-state branch.

It wasn't the only notorious Simcox connection. He is pictured with late neo-Nazi J.T. Ready in obscure footage showing them somewhere near the border, Ready strangely in a suit and tie and carrying an AR-15 rifle.

On May 2, 2012, Ready went on a killing spree, murdering his girlfriend, her daughter, her daughter's baby daughter, and her daughter's boyfriend before turning his gun on himself.

It is almost "the six degrees of Chris Simcox," with the "Little Prince" bridging the gap between dangerous extremists and mainstream politicians.

Simcox has twice honored Sheriff Joe Arpaio by presenting him with awards, and Simcox once participated in a roast of Arpaio in Sun City.

County Attorney Bill Montgomery spoke at an MCDC rally on a ranch near the border.

Former Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo was an enthusiastic Simcox supporter at one time, as was Congressman Steve King of Iowa.

Will Simcox go down as hard as Forde or Ready?

He is innocent until proven guilty, and the prosecutor in his case offered him a plea bargain that had the mother of one of his alleged victims in tears. The deal is pending.

But even if Simcox wins dismissal of the charges or is found not guilty by a jury of his peers, his days as a political force are over. He is yesterday's nativist hero.

Some wonder how Forde and Simcox — who claimed they only wanted U.S. immigration statutes enforced — could wind up on the wrong end of the law themselves.

The best answer so far has come from Bill Straus, regional director of the ADL of Arizona, which has monitored Simcox and other anti-immigration zealots for years.

"That's the essence of vigilantism," Straus told New Times. "Once you begin taking the law into your own hands, you have chosen to make your own laws. When that happens, anything is possible."

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons