When last we dropped in on the good people of Arivaca, Arizona, they were keeping a close eye on a Border Patrol checkpoint that controls access to their community and puts just about anybody entering or leaving town through an Iron Curtain nostalgia tour.
Tired of running the gauntlet, locals set up a monitoring operation at the checkpoint, where they simultaneously protested and recorded the agents’ activities.
Border Patrol didn’t like that. The agents got nasty.
How nasty? In a letter dated April 16 and sent to Manuel Padilla, Jr., Chief Border Patrol Agent for the Tucson sector, the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona describes agents at the Arivaca checkpoint threatening protesters with arrest, forcing them behind an arbitrary line at the edge of a “Border Patrol Enforcement Zone,” refusing to identify themselves, cursing at the locals, and blocking their view of agents’ activities.
Some of the agents’ actions are incredibly petty, such as parking a running vehicle so that the exhaust vents directly at the protesters. Then when they move, agents set another running vehicle in front of them.
Meanwhile, the feds let a local Border Patrol supporter into their checkpoint to turn his cameras on the protesters.
So matters are pretty tense betwen Arivacans and Border Patrol. What started all of this? An ACLU complaint filed in January details some of the abuses.
One former local business owner (her small business suffered from the decline in tourism caused by the checkpoint and was forced to close its doors at the end of 2013) described being detained on her way to a doctor’s appointment following a heart attack, held for over an hour in the hot sun, not permitted to sit down, and denied water. Other Arivacans report that agents at the checkpoint have told them, “You have no rights here,” or that all community members are considered suspect simply by virtue of living in Arivaca.
The “you have no rights here” comment was documented in an op-ed by activist John Heid.
The caption for a picture of a school bus at the Arivaca checkpoint from the End Border Patrol Checkpoints Facebook page points out:
Our children live in a world where they pass through a military-style checkpoint every morning and afternoon for school. Every time their parents take them to Tucson shopping. Every time they go to a friends house in Amado, or to Karate in Sahuarita. Men carry guns, dogs bark, lights flash.
So a federal agency has basically declared war on an American community because it doesn’t embrace agents’ presence with open arms.
Below you can see a video of a uniformed douchebag with an attitude about “your little civil rights thing” harangue a woman for politely asking him to justify his actions. Imagine driving through this checkpoint every single day.