Border Extremists Laughable, But Pose Incitement Danger

Border Extremists Laughable, But Pose Incitement Danger

Laughter makes sense when you’re in the secure confines of the Tucson City Council chambers and you see someone stand up, tug her tight shorts out from where they’re stuck, and yell, “You’re in direct violation of the oath you took to the United States Constitution, Mayor Rothschild.”

You can see why Alex Kack, the so-called Green Shirt Guy, found Jennifer Harrison ridiculous.

But sadly, our lives aren’t playing out in secure confines — they’re happening in the United States of America, circa 2019.

And there are any number of Jen Harrisons out there using social media to spread an angry, alarming political message about immigrants and the border.

Some of them, like Harrison, tend to walk up to the line of legality but not cross, even while causing problems for their targets. Others, like Tucson’s Michael Lewis Arthur Meyer, cross the line of legality repeatedly but don’t turn significantly violent.

Then there are the select few who take the same message and go off completely. We learned Friday that the killer in El Paso told police there that he was targeting “Mexicans” in his attack. Of course, most of the 22 people he killed were Americans.

Ten years ago, Shawna Forde and two accomplices killed two members of a Mexican-American family in Arivaca in a home invasion, as part of her plan to fund her border vigilante group.

Border alarmists tend to take a seed of truth — we really do have border, asylum and immigration problems to fix — and pack around it an explosive mix of exaggerations and fears. Then they walk away and see what happens. That part isn’t very funny.

Harrison and her fellow travelers have a two-year record of trolling and harassment, often trying to provoke a reaction from leftists or get in the faces of migrants or Muslims. She was a member of Patriot Movement AZ, a small group of provocateurs that traveled the state until earlier this year, when she and a few others split off and called themselves AZ Patriots.

Some of their provocations have been infuriating. Demonstrating in front of the state Capitol in 2018, they repeatedly asked dark-skinned staffers and legislators if they were in the country legally. One of them was Rep. Eric Descheenie, a Navajo from Chinle.

Yes, some of what they do is so stupid it’s laughable, but it hurts people all the same.

Members of the group — some of them, including Harrison, armed — also demonstrated outside a Council on American Islamic Relations banquet in Mesa in November 2017, and some went to the offices of that group and snooped around, said Imraan Siddiqi, executive director of CAIR’s Arizona branch.

In March 2018, two women who had been active with Patriot Movement AZ were arrested after videotaping themselves entering and taking items from a Tempe mosque. Disowned by the group, both pleaded guilty to aggravated criminal damage.