Saturday, June 27, 2009

Another consequence of (relative) rural lawlessness?

Today's story in the New York Times is headlined, "New Border Fear: Violence by a Rogue Militia," and the dateline is Arivaca, Arizona. The story reports on the murder of a 29-year-old Latino and his 10-year-old daughter by a rogue militia called the Minuteman American Militia. The mother of the child survived; she pulled a gun and shot one of the intruders. Jesse McKinley and Malia Wollan report: "The authorities say that the three suspects were after money and drugs that they intended to use to finance vigilantism, and that members of the group may have been involved in at least one other home invasion, in California."

Arivaca's population is not available because it is not even a Census Designated Place, but it is in the far southern reaches of metropolitan Pima County, not far from the Mexican border. One thing that is striking, especially from the photo of the trailer home where the murders occurred, is the spatial isolation of the family whose home was invaded. These rogue militia are clearly picking on a population who are vulnerable in several ways, including spatially. Another excerpt of the story illustrates this point. A former associate of the Minuteman American Militia "said that in October, he took an excursion with [the group's leader] into the desert north of here, where, wearing camouflage and carrying handguns and rifles, they searched for illegal immigrants. 'It’s just like hunting,' Mr. Stonex said, describing the tracking skills the group used. 'If you’re going out hunting deer, you want to scout around and get an idea what their pattern is, what trails they use.'" This description, too, points up the spatial isolation that marks the places where this activity is occurring, which heightens the difficulty legitimate law enforcement face in policing and deterring this vigilantism.

No comments: