Brisenia Flores: The Little Girl That You Haven’t Heard About

Brisenia Flores was a 9-year-old girl murdered in Arizona by anti-immigrant vigilantes, yet her death – unlike that of the 9-year old killed last week in Arizona – is getting almost no attention in the U.S. mainstream media.

According to reports by the UK press, Brisenia Flores was gunned down at point-blank range in her own home in Flores, Arizona, as her terrified mother Gina Gonzalez, who had also been hit, played dead on the floor.

Shawna Forde, the head of the Minutemen American Defence group, is on trial accused of two charges of first degree murder. Her trial is underway in Arizona now. Forde and her co-conspirator Bush — who reportedly has ties to the white supremacist Aryan Nation — broke into the home of 29-year-old Raul Flores, Brisenia’s dad, on May 30, 2009.  This was just six weeks after Forde’s issued a call for a political revolt. As related this week at Forde’s trial:

According to testimony, Bush shot Flores, then Gonzalez. Gonzalez was hit in the shoulder and leg and slumped to the floor. She testified that she played dead as she heard Bush pump more bullets into her husband as Brisenia woke up.

“Why did you shoot my dad?” the girl asked, sobbing, according to Gonzalez’s testimony. “Why did you shoot my mom?”

Gonzalez said she heard Bush slowly reload his gun and that he then ignored Brisenia’s pleas and fired.

It’s hard to comprehend such an act of violence, especially one involving a child.    Certainly, the links to anti-immigrant politics and rhetoric seem to be much clearer in this case than in the more recent shooting, but this story is receiving virtually no attention from mainstream media.  In part, this is the white racial frame at play, drawing our attention to white victims and obscuring from view the lives of people of color.


  1. Seattle in Texas

    This is very sad and I have many thoughts on this…to be short, I’m curious what kind of criminal charges these people will face, whether it will be recognized as a hate crime, and what sentences they will actually carry out. While I am against the death penalty, playing the Devil’s Advocate, with Arizona having the death penalty in place, I am curious if the prosecutor will seek capital punishment. I would like to see that entire group charged and held accountable, since it seems verifiable that that group had some level of influence that fueled the hate and violence leading up to, and resulting in this tragedy. But yes, to think of how much goes on that is either briefly touched on in the news or never brought to light at all. Very sad.

  2. ThirtyNine4Ever

    I’m not sure what you mean on this one, it was all over the papers and the news when it happened a year and a half ago and I still read articles on it from time to time. It was pretty much a huge blow to the all the AZ based Minutemen which they haven’t recovered from.
    Last I heard they are seeking the death penalty for all three of them and have been the whole time. Pretty tough to hold the group accountable as the motive looks to be money, I think the non-anti-immigrant public might hold them accountable though. As for a hate crime, I haven’t read anything suggesting it will be tried as a hate crime ever. I’m not sure it would qualify as one or not legally. I’m sure race was a factor in who she picked to rob, but I don’t think it would be easy to prove plus capital murder charges are probably enough for now.

    • Seattle in Texas

      ThirtyNine4Ever, thank you. I hadn’t heard of this case until this post so maybe the coverage has varied a bit across regions. But then again, I don’t keep up well with the news, etc. very well (at least television news)…. I at least know it hasn’t been covered as other cases have, such as Jon Bonet or what have you. I would suspect if the same thing occurred (let’s just say it was motivated by money as the news seems to be suggesting based on what you’re getting and the mother and father with the daughter being shot last) with a Latino perpetrator against a white family, the coverage may have been more widespread.

      I don’t really know enough about the case, but it seems as though, at least from the main post above, if she can be be linked to an Aryan Nations group, they could also be held accountable–in the same way Tom Metzger or the Aryan Nations in Idaho were some years back through wiping them out financially. Plus it seems that since this was a second attack on the same family, that could help in building a case for being tried as a hate crime. This case seems different than someone breaking into a random house for money, then murdering the homeowners because they got caught in the act or something along those lines. But there are ways to look into the history decipher a bit more whether it was racially motivated…although, maybe they have already carried out such investigations…unless the victims in this case are further victimized by the law through sloppy investigations techniques, discretion, conclusions, etc.

      Based on the information at least here, I would rather see them get tried for a hate crime and life in prison than capital murder charges and execution. If it were white on white then capital murder charges and life in prison. While the outcomes would essentially be the same, the symbolic recognition would be different. The hate crime legislation is still a works in progress and many places don’t even have hate crime laws–that is they don’t recognize hate crimes yet because they aren’t even on the books. I don’t know if that’s the case in that jurisdiction where she’s being/been tried and commuted.

      I’m going to look more into it more out of curiosity…. Regardless, it’s a horrible thing that happened.

      Anyway, thanks for sharing what you know on it


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