Calexico/Mexicali: Border Patrol agents brutalize protestors during the No Borders Camp closing ceremony on the U.S. side.
The concluding action of the No Borders Camp on Nov 11, 2007, was a rally on both sides of the border right at the Mexicali/Calexico port of entry. The rally included the installation of a cross-border kissing booth, which involved making a hole in the border fence approximately four inches in diameter. With the arrival of the Dept. of Homeland Security Border Patrol in large numbers, the peaceful demonstration was interrupted by police escalation. Border Patrol formed a line between protesters and the wall and then advanced on the crowd without warning, without a dispersal order, and without provocation. Several people were knocked down, one protester was hit repeatedly in the knee caps by several Border Patrol before being detained, and paint-ball guns loaded with pepper spray pellets were used to disperse the crowd. One protester was beaten severely and detained and may or may not be receiving medical attention. Fleeing protesters were then surrounded and detained, before being allowed to disperse in fives. Three protesters have been detained.
The No Border Camp IMC is currently in the process of releasing video of the police brutality online, which has been extensively filmed. A disturbing example is :: here.
Audio interviews with first hand experiences will also be posted and will be linked to :: here.
It is critically important to situate this recent violence within the larger context of border enforcement, for which the violence perpetrated to enforce the border is not exceptional but daily. For the over four hundred migrants buried in Holtville cemetery (since 1994) who died trying evade the very forces we confronted today, this violence is not exceptional but a fact of life and a fact of death. The brutal, uncoordinated, random violence you can watch on the event footage is both symptomatic and systematic. The Border Patrol is not law enforcement, and can only be understood as an occupation force whose mission is to control a contested space. Like all occupation forces, they end up trying to control the conflict they create, and displace the consequences of that control onto the population. The result is a sustained level of violence which tears apart communities, families, neighborhoods, and peoples lives. The occupation of the borderlands is a projection of state values in which peoples lives are acceptable casualties of economic objectives. The cheap exploited labor of the Mexican workers in the Maquiladoras we visited on wednesday were behind the wall we protested all week. Operation Gatekeeper began the same year NAFTA was signed. As the militarization of the border increases in man power and sophistication, so does the extent to which this racist system can jeopardize peoples lives. Our action today both confronts and exposes the violence of the border system, but so long as the holes we put in the fence today are repaired this occupation will continue to enforce a border state in which some lives are worth more than others, in which some people are given choices that others are denied, and in which justice is relativized and racialized.
For further information see:
Mainstream Media Press Release: 'No Borders Camp' Week-of-Action Ends in Border Patrol Attacking Protest
The following press release was sent out to mainstream media contacts to raise awareness about the violent response of the U.S. Border Patrol to the demonstration held at the Calexico Port of Entry:
For Immediate Release: 11/11/07
(:: En español / Text in Spanish @ deletetheborder.org)
Personal accounts and photos can be found at: http://www.sandiego.indymedia.org
'No Borders Camp' Week-of-Action Ends in Border Patrol Attacking Protest
Calexico, CA--At the end of a week-long bi-national camp at the Calexico/Mexicali border, Border Patrol officers attacked a rally at the Mexicali/Calexico port of entry. Around 100 Border Patrol officers assaulted a group of about 30 demonstrators on the U.S. side with pepper gas pellets, tazers, and batons. Several people were beaten and arrested; more suffered from the use of chemical weapons.
As people attempted to disperse, the border patrol chased and detained groups of them, forcing them to their knees with their hands on their heads. In one case, a person badly injured by pepper pellets shot at close range was pursued away from the conflict, pulled away from a companion wanting to treat his wounds, surrounded and beaten in the head with batons by up to 15 border patrol agents. All who were temporarily detained on the street have now been released.
More than 500 people participated in the No Borders Camp during the week of November 7-11. The bi-national camp out was billed as a networking forum for activists opposed to the militarization of the border. Previous No Borders Camps have taken place in Europe and Australia.
Activities during the camp included a rally and march on November 9 at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility in El Centro, CA and a memorial service on November 10 at a cemetery in Holtville, CA where the remains of migrants who've died crossing the border are buried. All activities during the camp were peaceful and intended to build connections across borders. Sunday's march was meant to culminate the border camp.
For more information visit http://www.noborderscamp.org.