Friday, October 3, 2008

Under surveillance: El Paso protest of border wall

Carlos Marentes reflects on surveillance and the Vigil Against the Wall on October 1, 2008

By Carlos Marentes

EL PASO -- As you may have witnessed, the Border Patrol officers in charge of protecting the wall, became visibly nervous when they saw so many people protesting at the site. They were watching us from the entrance at the top of the border since the beginning of our peaceful vigil.(Aren't they supposed to be looking south to "protect" this nation instead of watching towards the American side?)

Many people participated in our vigil including small children and old people as well as whole families from the vicinity of the construction site. It was a peaceful gathering of people of faith opposed to the wall. All of us had candles and were following the matachines of our Lady of Guadalupe in a religious kind of procession.

When the procession started to walk towards the wall, they immediately moved a patrol vehicle to block the entrance of the construction site. However, we never had the intention to get close to the entrance or even enter the construction site. We were just trying to get as close as possible to the wall to hold our vigil. But the Border Patrol officers moved towards the procession yelling and pushing people back.

One female Border Patrol officer who appeared to be in charge was especially aggressive. Another officer yelling, "You are in federal property," grabbed a protester and pushed him back. The third officer rapidly ran also towards us. They seemed to be nervous and ready to harm us.

The officers formed a barrier inches from the procession in a very provocative manner. But the protesters evaded them and continue their procession. Then, a few minutes later some more Border Patrol officers arrived as well as an EL Paso Police Department patrol car. The Border Patrol officers then moved back to the entrance and formed a barrier.

We decided to move far from the Border Patrol officers barrier to protect the children and the elderly in our group.

We don't understand the intimidating attitude of the officers on Wednesday October 1. But the next day, a Border Patrol officer accompanied by a worker was posting a "no trespassing" sign at the entrance of the construction site.

But the other point of information is that on Friday, September 26, not only the Border Patrol officers and the El Paso Police Department where there to protect the wall and the equipment of Kiewit Corporation. At one point, when they noticed a large group of high school students also protesting against the wall; they brought a van full with either soldiers or National Guard personnel.

This type of incident is happening now, when the infamous wall is not even finished yet. Just imagine what is going to happen when the wall is completed. So I agree that we need to ask our friends in the legal community to provide some kind of legal observation.

The other piece of information is that we believed that we are under big time surveillance. There have been many strange vehicles with dark windows taking pictures and videos of us at the demonstrating site. We don't know who they are but they are suspiciously different from common people and tourists stopping by frequently to take pictures from us and the wall (maybe for their myspace websites).

Are they spies from Kiewit or Mr. Stanley Job? Maybe Homeland Security officers gathering intelligence? Pinkerton agents? Sicarios?... Who knows ...

Thanks to everybody,
Carlos Marentes

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Censored News is published by censored journalist Brenda Norrell. A journalist for 27 years, Brenda lived on the Navajo Nation for 18 years, writing for Navajo Times, AP, USA Today, Lakota Times and other American Indian publications. After being censored and then terminated by Indian Country Today in 2006, she began the Censored Blog to document the most censored issues. She currently serves as human rights editor for the U.N. OBSERVER & International Report at the Hague and contributor to Sri Lanka Guardian, Narco News and CounterPunch. She was cohost of the 5-month Longest Walk Talk Radio across America, with Earthcycles Producer Govinda Dalton in 2008:
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