Border watch group breaks up - Tucson News Now

Border watch group breaks up

By J.D. Wallace - bio | email

TUCSON, AZ (KOLD) – Still united by a cause, about 12,000 members of Minuteman Civil Defense Corps will separate and belong to different chapters across the country.

"The cause is still securing the border, enforcing the law," said Carmen Mercer, president of MCDC.  "The movement itself, the organization itself, is not going to go away, just the dissolving of the corporation."

Mercer said that some members want to pursue outrage against healthcare and other government policies.  Now individual chapters can choose what they want to do and they can be responsible for their own members' behavior.

"We just didn't want to take the liability," Mercer said.  "We have ranchers who have been allowing us on their ranch land for the last eight years, we certainly are concerned about them. It only takes one bad person to destroy everything we've built in the last eight years."

"They've not just attracted retired folks who come out with their binoculars and floppy hats to patrol the border.  They've attracted an element that is dangerous," said Kat Rodriguez, coordinator for human rights organization Derechos Humanos.  She pointed to last summer's arrest of Shawna Forde for a deadly home invasion in Arivaca as an example since Forde had tried to belong to MCDC.

"Do I think they're doing it for any other reason than to avoid liability? Absolutely not.  They're doing it because they're concerned about the factions they've attracted," Rodriguez said.

Mercer said that she trusts those whom she has allowed to join.

"It's always a gamble, but you have to have the trust and the faith of the people," Mercer said.  "I've worked with thousands of people over the last eight years and I can tell you, they were all the greatest patriots and I get goose bumps just talking about them, that I've ever worked with."

Mercer pointed to MCDC's ousting of Forde as an example that their vetting systems work.

The individual chapters, perhaps as many as 100, will divide up the main database, and will have to work with ranchers on their own if they want to watch the border.

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