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Latino Daily News

Saturday May 19, 2012

J.T. Ready: The Link Between White Supremacy and Anti-Immigration Groups in Arizona

J.T. Ready: The Link Between White Supremacy and Anti-Immigration Groups in Arizona

Photo: Jason Todd Ready

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Jason Todd Ready was a neo-Nazi who didn’t try to hide the fact that he was ready and willing to use deadly force on the U.S.-Mexico border to stop the incursion of undocumented immigrants. That his life came to a violent end was no surprise to those who, over the years, had tried to raise awareness about the danger to society posed by Ready and his associates.

Posthumously, Ready is being investigated as the lead suspect in an alleged mass-murder suicide that took place on May 2, and that resulted in the death of Ready and four others including his girlfriend, Lisa Mederos, her daughter, her daughter’s boyfriend, and Mederos’ 18 month-old grandchild.

The crime has been deemed a domestic violence incident by the police, but it’s a case that opens the door for other questions about Ready’s involvement in domestic terrorist groups, and exposes clear ties between the anti-immigrant movement in Arizona and white supremacist groups that have found sanctuary in a state polarized by a divisive immigration debate.

Unanswered Questions

During their search of Ready’s house after the killings were reported, officers found six anti-tank grenades—U.S. military-issue, 40 millimeter projectiles that require a launcher to be used (no launcher was found at the home)—according the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Authorities are still investigating where the grenades came from, why they were at Ready’s residence, and whether or not he planned to use them.

In the aftermath of the killings, the FBI revealed that Ready had been the subject of an investigation related to “domestic terrorism” over a nearly five year period, in connection to a militia group called the U.S. Border Guard, a group that Ready founded. Despite the amount of time spent on the case, the investigation yielded no criminal charges against Ready.

Ready was well known to be a former member of the National Socialist Movement (NSM), a neo-Nazi group. More recently, he’d come to be recognized as the leader of an armed militia known as the U.S. Border Guard, a group that patrolled the desert borderlands looking for migrants. On occasion, Ready would capture people crossing the border and turn them over to the U.S. Border Patrol.

In an article published in the local weekly Phoenix New Times, journalist Stephen Lemons revealed the FBI was warned over two years ago by an informant that Ready had intentions to conduct raids in Latino neighborhoods and kill people, and that he planned to do so while posing as an officer from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Last year, while the FBI was trying and failing to find evidence to bring down Ready, they did arrest Jeffrey Harbin, a former NSM member who Ready admittedly recruited to the organization. Harbin was arrested after police found him with twelve grenade-like explosives, ball bearings and an improvised fusing system. At that time, a local TV reporter from Channel 15 asked Ready if he knew what Harbin planned to do with the bombs, and Ready replied: “Things are still under investigation. You would have to talk to the feds and see what their official statement is on that, but I will say that domestic terrorism is real.”

A few months before Harbin’s arrest, at a Tea Party event, Ready and members of NSM had distributed fliers calling for the use of landmines on the border to stop illegal immigration.

Ties to the Anti-Immigrant Movement

Even though politicians that once befriended him, like former Senator Pearce, came to frown upon him, Ready’s activities closely fed off of and thrived on the growing anti-immigrant sentiment in Arizona.

He wasn’t one to shy away from the camera, and he used the polarizing issue of immigration in Arizona to propel himself into the national spotlight.

In 2010, he launched his U.S. Border Guard by inviting the national media to cover one of his patrols in a deserted area on a quest to capture what he called “narco-terrorists.”

At the time, politicians like Arizona’s Republican Governor Jan Brewer were making claims that law-enforcement was finding beheaded bodies in the desert, and that violent crime was going up in connection to illegal immigration. Subsequent media reports refuted both claims.

As much as Ready was considered to be at the fringe of the anti-immigrant movement, some of his tactics were indirectly embraced when governor Brewer signed SB 1495 into law last year, a bill that authorizes the creation of a state-operated border militia.

Critics argue that any such militia – it hasn’t yet been assembled—would attract the likes of Ready.

In addition to Pearce, Ready was drawn to public officials like Arpaio, who has made it his personal crusade to go after undocumented immigrants.

In the spring of 2009, Ready counter-protested during a march of 3,000 people to Arpaio’s Durango jail complex. Ready was joined by a handful of neo-Nazis that stepped on the Mexican flag while giving the Nazi salute and yelling racial slurs.

Photos and videos circulating on white supremacist web pages show Sheriff Arpaio getting his picture taken with them. During that time, Ready compared Arpaio’s actions to those of Adolph Hitler, saying the latter was his “hero.”

Like Pearce, Arpaio disassociated himself from Ready and his cohort during a press conference, and later complained that he hadn’t been aware of their stance when he got his picture taken.

Galindo said groups like the Minutemen opened their doors back in 2004 to extreme vigilante groups. Ready and Forde were among those who took up with the Minutemen at that time.

Galindo contends that Sheriff Paul Babeu and the U.S. Border Patrol allowed Ready’s group to operate in Pinal as a “legalized vigilante group.” And, said Galindo, some of Ready’s associates continue to do so.

“We need to hold local law enforcement responsible and say take your focus off chasing immigrants and start focusing on the true menaces of society, which are these legalized vigilante groups,” said Galindo.

Read more about the J.T. Ready Exposé on New America Media