Longtime white supremacist and border vigilante JT Ready saw himself as part of a war that few others would fight. He amassed weapons. He donned a uniform. He formed his own brigade of volunteers to walk alongside him as he hunted what he described as “narco terrorists” flowing across the Arizona-Mexico border.
On Wednesday, reports out of Arizona said Ready died, not at the hands of drug runners, but with his own gun during a mad rampage inside a suburban home just east of Phoenix. Along the way, the reports said, he took the lives of four other people, including a toddler.
The Arizona Republic reported the victims were Ready’s girlfriend, her daughter, the daughter’s boyfriend and the daughter’s 18-month-old baby. Ready still somehow managed to use the event to blame immigrants even after his death. A posting on his Facebook page appeared hours after the massacre took place.
Ready was propelled onto the national spotlight back in 2010 due to his long-standing friendship with Arizona state senator Russell Pearce. After the passage of Pearce’s immigration bill SB1070, all eyes pivoted on Arizona and the legislature. Rachael Maddow’s now-famous expose of the racist roots of SB1070 showed pictures of Pearce and Ready arm-in-arm smiling for the cameras juxtaposed with photos of Ready lined up and smiling with a bunch of Nazis. It was that very same expose that helped motivate me to speak out against the anti-immigrant legislation that Pearce has tirelessly defended and against the national anti-immigrant groups such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and pro-prison lobbies including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that stood to benefit enormously from the detention of immigrants.
Civil rights activists in Arizona had been writing about, videoing and exposing the connections between Pearce and Ready for years of course, but it took a spot on MSNBC before the rest of the country caught on to just how blatantly racist SB1070 was. Later Russell Pearce was recalled from the senate and nobody (except Pearce) is denying that his associations with extremists and his single-minded focus on immigration were factors in his defeat.
Pearce has some explaining to do. The association between Ready and the radical GOP is no surprise to NFTOS - its Pearce that now needs to be monitored.