Why isn’t the media talking about another 9-year-old girl killed by political violence in Arizona?


Well, here’s a story that should be getting more attention, but isn’t. In the spring of 2009, 9-year-old Brisenia Flores was shot and killed when a group of Minutemen raided her parents’ home in Arivaca, Arizona hoping to steal drugs and money to fund their vigilante border-policing. The Daily Beast reports (trigger warning):

Early on the morning of May 30, 2009, Raul Flores heard a knock at the door of his Arivaca, Arizona, home. When he opened it, he found a man and a woman claiming to be law-enforcement officers in search of fugitives. Minutes later, the man shot Flores to death. Then, authorities say, he pumped three bullets into Flores’ wife, Gina Gonzalez, who survived but played dead. “Why did you shoot my mom?” Gonzalez’s 9-year-old daughter, Brisenia Flores, asked the gunman, according to prosecutors. Those were her last words. The man put a gun to her head, fired off two rounds, and killed her.

Last week, the trial of the group’s alleged leader, Shawna Forde, began in Tuscon–the site of another recent political shooting that left another 9-year-old girl dead. But the media isn’t talking as much about this one.

Maybe it’s because the victims of this crime were Latino. Or because the story doesn’t square with the conservative narrative that Minutemen are just like a “neighborhood watch.” Or because right-wing rhetoric–in this case anti-immigration rhetoric–played such a clear and unequivocal role in this instance of violence. Will Bunch at Media Matters notes:

“While the seriously warped mind of Christina’s Tucson murderer, Jared Lee Loughner, is a muddled mess, the motives of one of Brisenia’s alleged killers– a woman named Shawna Forde — are pretty clear: She saw herself as the leader of an armed movement against undocumented immigrants, an idea that was energized by her exposure to the then-brand-new Tea Party Movement. But unlike the horrific spree that took Christina’s life, the political murder of Brisenia and her dad (while Brisenia’s mom survived only by pretending to be dead) has only received very sporadic coverage in the national media. That’s a shame, because it’s an important story that illustrates the potential for senseless violence when hateful rhetoric on the right — in this case about undocumented immigrants — falls on the ears of the unhinged.”

Or maybe it’s because this kind of violence has become so commonplace over the last few years, the media no longer finds it shocking. But I, for one, am still blown away by the fact that the Tea Party’s nativist rhetoric can lead to such a complete and total dehumanization of immigrants that people like Forde and her accomplices could shoot a 9-year-old girl in cold blood. Here’s hoping the trial brings justice for Brisenia’s family and greater awareness for the rest of us.

Atlanta, GA

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director in charge of Editorial at Feministing. Maya has previously worked at NARAL Pro-Choice New York and the National Institute for Reproductive Health and was a fellow at Mother Jones magazine. She graduated with a B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. A Minnesota native, she currently lives, writes, edits, and bakes bread in Atlanta, Georgia.

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Editorial.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/radicalhw/ Shannon Drury

    Oh, I absolutely believe that her race was a factor in the lack of coverage about her murder. The murder of Christine Taylor Green had a built-in hook–the adorable white face of an “all-American” girl born on 9/11. But what if she were an anchor baby, not a 9/11 baby? Yep.

    • http://feministing.com/members/mariezzz82/ Marie

      @Shannon: I find your comment a bit ridiculous. The reason Christine Green got the coverage she did is beacause she was present in a shooting of a politician, and the fact that a 9 year old girl got shot made made it all that more horrifying. If she wasn’t involved in a shooting of this nature, she wouldn’t have received the same coverage. Did little Brisenia Flores deserve more coverage in the media? Absolutley. The point is, 2 little 9 year old girls lost their lives to violent hate and anger lead by the killer’s own choices, and 2 mothers have survived shootings while their daughters are no more.

    • http://feministing.com/members/kelly33/ Karen

      I have to take issue with the use of the term ‘anchor baby.’ First of all, there is no such thing as an ‘anchor baby.’ That’s a term the right wing and the mainstream media use to dehumanize American children of Mexican descent whose parents are undocumented. Sadly, this term has now become so commonplace that even normal non-racist people use it.

      Secondly, Brisenia Flores and her parents were Americans, not immigrants.

      Third, the father was not a drug dealer. The perpetrators made this claim, but the police found no drugs in the home or on the property, and the mother testified under oath that her husband did not sell drugs.

      And this is why the media won’t cover the story–they cannot demonize the Flores family. The Flores family were Americans, not illegal immigrants; and the father was law abiding, not a drug dealer. That doesn’t fit into the media’s deceitful narrative about the border. So what we have is a hardworking father and his nine year old daughter, both Americans of Mexican descent, slaughtered by Minutemen who entered their home by posing as law enforcement.

      Also, Shawna Forde, the alleged ringleader, was not only a Minuteman, but also affiliated with the hate group FAIR, and appeared as a speaker on one of their panels. (This can be seen on Youtube.) Her accomplice, Jason Bush, the man who shot Brisenia, had ties to white supremacist groups.

      The Justice Department needs to investigate the Minutemen and all of their affiliated groups. It’s just disgusting that the media refuse to cover this story.


  • http://feministing.com/members/toongrrl/ Jessica “Jess” Victoria Carillo

    Another little girl killed in a senseless murder motivated by political means. Why isn’t there any mainstream media attention yet? Is it too threatening to the Tea Party? Because people are going to start questioning what’s going on in the political climate? How come when a child or person of color gets killed (no matter how brutal) they mostly get less attention than a white person? Why? http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MissingWhiteWomanSyndrome

  • http://feministing.com/members/toongrrl/ Jessica “Jess” Victoria Carillo

    Sorry. Angry here.

  • http://feministing.com/members/caitlin/ MKE

    This is so upsetting. Absolutely heartbreaking. Thanks for sharing this story… just, wow. How do we get this the attention it deserves?

  • fyoumudflaps

    What makes me beyond sick about this is that I am a “high-information voter” and still never knew about this. I bet few if any of you know there was a failed Mosque bombing in Jacksonville about a year ago. As in, gasp, some right-wing cook attempted to blow up a Mosque.


    • http://feministing.com/members/mariezzz82/ Marie

      Funny, no where in the article did it say he was right wing….sounds like an assumption to me.

  • http://feministing.com/members/veroniqueb/ Véronique

    That’s horrifying! I hope they have enough evidence to convict. That family needs justice. And it’s bad that this is the first I’ve heard of this story. Thank you for posting this.

  • http://feministing.com/members/greta/ Greta

    (Deep Breath) This. is. so. sad. I am literally shaking with sadness and anger.

    I still can’t get over the fact that humanity is capable of something like this.

  • http://feministing.com/members/mariezzz82/ Marie

    This is a terribly sad story. This family deserves justice. I do think though that the author’s suggestion that right-wing rhetoric lead to this violence is irresponsible and biased. The people that did this are hateful, angry, and evil, and they need to be held responsible for their actions as individuals.

    • http://feministing.com/members/kelly33/ Karen

      Marie, the point of racist rhetoric is to dehumanize its target. Once somebody has been dehumanized, it’s easier for some psycho to justify harming or killing that person because they no longer seem him/her as a human being. These killers did not see a nine year old girl when they saw Brisenia Flores. They saw an ‘anchor baby,’ an ‘alien,’ a future ‘breeder.’ When somebody like Lou Dobbs at a respected global channel like CNN spouts this garbage everyday for years, what do you think the effect this? Uneducated people think that these views are acceptable and truthful, especially when there are no positive images of Mexicans in the media to counter this rhetoric. Americans of Mexican descent are not allowed to work at CNN, MSNBC, etc.

      What’s going on is really scary. Mexicans are being used a scapegoats to distract everyone from the top 1% who are looting our country.