“Dozens” of protesters stormed and occupied the National Border Patrol Museum in Texas over the weekend, vandalizing the building’s displays, including a wall honoring fallen Customs and Border Protection Officers.
Around 50 protesters, “donning masks to conceal their identity,” overtook the El Paso, Texas, facility on Saturday, leaving destruction in their wake, Fox News reports.
The director of the museum described the incident as an “invasion.”
“They immediately spread out throughout the museum, and displayed banners and began chanting and singing,” the site’s director, David Ham, told the national news outlet on Monday. “While this was going on, other people in masks went through the museum placing stickers on most of our exhibits. These people were wearing masks, and their actions were concealed by others holding small signs to cover their actions.”
Ham was not at the museum at the time, according to the Washington Examiner, but received panic phone calls from “upset” staff members.
“We have cameras, and we saw them gathering in the parking lot,” Ham told the outlet. “We saw them come in the museum, and she had called 911. I was able to watch the cameras on my cellphone. They came in after putting masks on.”
“They proceeded to set up a bunch of signs and just went all over the museum. They of course had an agenda, they were chanting and singing songs, and then a couple of them got on a bullhorn,” Ham said. “We had visitors in the museum. They started talking and kind of harassing them. Of course the staff was asking them to leave, and they wouldn’t leave.”
The protesters’ top targets included a wall honoring CBP officers who fell in the line of duty, though the Washington Examiner reports the group “plastered dozens of images on pictures, glass, painted walls, mannequins, and vehicles throughout the building.”
Yesterday, masked protestors “occupied & reclaimed” (whatever that means) the #BorderPatrol museum (non-profit entity run by volunteers) & defaced our fallen agent memorial (a very sacred monument).
I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about the hypocrisy of their actions…🙄 pic.twitter.com/VUmMmwAIqO
— Jason Owens, Chief Patrol Agent (@JOwensUSBP) February 17, 2019
Over photos of fallen agents, the protesters pasted photos of three children, two of whom died late last year while in Border Patrol custody of illnesses apparently contracted on their trip to the United States border from their homes in Guatemala and Honduras.
In some cases, museum officials said, the protesters may have done permanent damage to the exhibits, which include antique cars and vintage uniforms.
A group called “Tornillo: The Occupation” took credit for the “invasion” on Facebook, and posted several videos of themselves “reclaiming” the Border Patrol museum.
BREAKING! Direct Action: Reclaiming the border patrol museum and exposing the true violence of borders and border patrol. MISSING HISTORY: The museum shows a small scoped perspective of what is happening on the border. No where in the museum would you ever find the fact that the Border Patrol has been a problematic entity in its treatment of the indigenous people of this land and asylum seekers. Our reclamation of the space was to highlight the voices that were missing from this memorial and the human rights violations inflicted upon them. They died in border patrol spaces, they deserve to be remembered in border patrol spaces."Pedestrians were run over by agents. Car chases culminated in crashes. Some have drowned, others died after they were pepper-sprayed, stunned with tasers or beaten.But the majority of victims died from bullet wounds, including shots in the back. The bullets were fired not only by agents conducting border enforcement operations, but also those acting in a local law enforcement capacity and by agents off-duty, who’ve shot burglary suspects, intimate partners and friends.They are the largest federal law enforcement agency, with sweeping powers and a reach 100 miles into the interior of the US. But they have a worrying record — a Guardian investigation shows the federal government has paid out millions in compensation after a litany of deaths, abuses and negligence."-https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/may/02/fatal-encounters-97-deaths-point-to-pattern-of-border-agent-violence-across-america?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other -https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/01/border-patrol-violence-us-paid-60m-to-cover-claims-against-the-agency?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other "From 2005 to 2012, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents were arrested 2,170 times for misconduct, such as domestic violence and drunk driving, government inspectors found. CBP, which includes Border Patrol and customs agents, was also the target of 1,187 complaints of excessive force from 2007 to 2012. Since 2004, more than 200 agents have been arrested on corruption-related charges, including at least 13 under Trump. And a 2013 government-commissioned report found that Border Patrol agents regularly stepped in the paths of cars to justify firing at drivers, as well as shooting at rock-throwers, including teenagers on the Mexican side, with the intent to kill."-https://www.texasobserver.org/the-border-patrol-serial-killer-is-part-of-a-long-troubled-history/"SINCE ITS FOUNDING in the early 20th century, the U.S. Border Patrol has operated with near-complete impunity, arguably serving as the most politicized and abusive branch of federal law enforcement — even more so than the FBI during J. Edgar Hoover’s directorship."-https://theintercept.com/2019/01/12/border-patrol-history/#RevoLove #FreeThem #Libérenlos #hungerstrike #ELPASO9 #AbolishICE #waterislife #HumanitarianAidIsNeverACrime #liberty4patricia #niunamás #WeDoCare #amorYamistad #ReturnTheChildren #Liberty4Patricia @officialpatriciaOkoumou #pokoumou
Posted by Tornillo: The Occupation on Saturday, February 16, 2019
After authorities broke up the “occupation” the group posted an account of their “harrowing” experience.
UPDATE: After demanding everyone's IDs, collecting personal information, and looking for warrants and immigration…
The museum says that it does not respond kindly to vandals, and that once it finishes assessing the damage the protesters did to displays and exhibits, it plans on pressing charges.