A group of masked protesters “occupied and reclaimed” a privately run Border Patrol museum located on federal land. The demonstrators defaced a memorial honoring fallen agents, curators reported.
Newly appointed Houlton Sector Chief Patrol Agent Jason Owens tweeted a shocking message that a group of masked protesters “occupied and reclaimed” the Border Patrol Museum and defaced the fallen agent memoria. He called the memorial a “very sacred monument.”
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
The tweet shows the memorial after protesters placed placards over the faces of U.S. Border Patrol agents who were killed in the line of duty. The photos also show the protesters walking around inside the museum, wearing masks in an apparent effort to intimidate staff.
The pictures on the placards included images of three children. One of the children was seven-year-old Jakelin Caal, the Guatemalan girl who died hours after being taken into custody, the Washington Examiner reported. Caal died from a blood condition she would have acquired prior to entering the U.S., an autopsy found.
Museum director David Ham told the Examiner that cameras picked up the protesters outside the remote facility near El Paso, Texas. The video showed the group putting on masks before entering the property. Ham said that about 50 protesters entered the facility and refused to leave. Staff called 911 and military police from Fort Bliss responded.
“We have cameras, and we saw them gathering in the parking lot. 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,” Ham told the reporter in a cell phone interview.
“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 explained. “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 group calls itself “Tornillo: The Occupation.” In a Facebook post, the group shows a photo of a Border Patrol agent mannequin with a placard pasted onto it mouth.
Another post shows the members inside the museum hiding their faces behind signs and an image of the defaced Border Patrol Agent Memorial Wall.
Due to the remote nature of the facility and the fact that it is on federal land, military police from Fort Bliss responded to the incident and detained the protesters while they documented the scene and identified subjects. It appears no protesters were arrested at the scene.
“This place is celebrating the genocide of people,” one of the protests said on a megaphone inside the museum. “This is an entity that continuously enacted state violence,” another protester stated. The protester claimed that the Border Patrol has never “had direct oversight by anyone.”
Outside the facility, protesters chanted, “Say it loud, say it clear, Border Patrol kills.”
Ham told the Examiner that the affixed placards caused damage to the memorial wall and other items in the museum. “It’s very hard to remove,” he said. “We’ve got antique cars, old Border Patrol vehicles, and an aircraft. We’re kind of worried it’s going to peel the paint off,” said Ham. “I know it’s peeled the paint off some of our walls.”
The Examiner identified one of the protesters as Elizabeth Vega, a woman who was allegedly involved in Ferguson, Missouri, anti-police protests following the Michael Brown shooting by police. She told a KVIA reporter that the protest was an act of civil disobedience “because we believe there is a humanitarian crisis.” She denied the accusations of vandalism but allegedly admitted to placing the sticky photos of the children on multiple items inside the museum.
Ham said they are assessing the value of the damage caused and may decide later if filing charges is justified.
The Border Patrol Museum is a privately funded non-profit organization.
Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for the Breitbart Border team. He is an original member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX and Face