Second in a series of comments recorded at the anti-militarization protest at Camp Mabry, Texas, June 24 (2006)
K.C.: “I’m here to basically protest the increasing militarization of the border. You know I feel like these are human beings who are trying to survive, and we shouldn’t create an atmosphere where it feels more like an occupied territory rather than a community of people trying to live and do right by their kids.
“And so I’m protesting our country sending national guard to the border. I just got back from El Paso, and already the community is extremely stressed, scared to come out of their houses, there is a lot of anxiety, and now these troops being sent to the border is just going to increase that tenfold.
“And I don’t see anything but bad news. I don’t think it’s going to stop migrants from coming over, but it is going to result, it may result, I hope it doesn’t, but it may result in some deaths, in some deaths of innocent people, so that’s what I’m here protesting against.
Ruth Epstein, board member of Central Texas ACLU: “We are opposed to militarizing the border and having police violate the constitution. We’re for the Bill of Rights all the way.”
Q: What’s wrong with militarizing the border?
Epstein: “Well, the military don’t seem to think they need to pay attention to the Fourth Amendment, and we have had complaints about people in the little towns near El Paso being harassed, and we think that’s wrong.
“I’m having a public forum on immigration, the Central Texas chapter is doing that, and it’s going to be on June 29. People come at 5:30, and it will be taped for access tv from 6:00 to 7:00. It’s going to be at Cafe Caffeine, which is 909 West Mary.”
Roxanne, originally from Sugar Land, TX: “I’m here to lend my support to the protest against militarization of the border, because it leads to deaths and it’s a policy that goes about what it’s trying to achieve in what I think is a wrong way.
“I don’t have an answer to what the right way is, but it seems to as though handling a situation that is not civil and human rights with military is not a correct response in any circumstance. While I can’t pinpoint, because I’m not the most informed about government policies and procedures in this area, I do personally think that it’s not the right one.”
LaVelle Franklin, executive assistant, ACLU: “I believe in what’s happening here. I think that we need to welcome our friends from across the border. I think that we shouldn’t be sending military troops down there. And I’m here because basically I think that we need to be more peaceful and get along, not send more military people down there.”
Ray Ybarra, Racial Justice Fellow ACLU: “Things are going great, it’s a much larger turnout than I thought we would have, so it’s always good to see people who are willing to stand up for justice and stand up for human rights.”
Q: Did you hear about the checkpoints being taken down?
Ybarra: “Yeah, we’re very happy. We spent all the past few weeks working double-overtime on this issue, and I think it’s an example of what can happen when community groups and grassroots start organizing and finding injustice in their community and mobilize around it. But it’s not a total victory yet, but it’s a small step, and I think that’s owed to the community, and I was happy to see that announcement yesterday.”
Meggie, from Holland: “I’m here to show support tor the disadvantaged people on the other side of the border.
“I think the reason that made me to come here is a few weeks ago I was in the Chaparral Wildlife Management Area, it’s close to the border, close to Laredo. I’m a scientist, and I was doing some research there (studying invasive species) and I was exposed to I guess ignorance and one-sidedness of park managers there who deal with that issue everyday, and one of the people said that if it were up to him it would be perfectly fine to put razors on top of these fences.
“At that time I didn’t say anything. I felt extremely bad, but I didn’t say anything. And I felt bad afterwards for not saying anything, so I guess I’m here to repair that silence then.”
Carla Vargas, law student summer intern at ACLU: “I’m here to protest the National Guard going out to the border, because I oppose militarization of our border.
“For example, we’re passing out flyers today about Esequiel Hernandez who is an 18-year-old goat herder out on the border who was shot by Marines when he was just out there tending to his goats. And he was shot in the back. And killed.
“We’re out here protesting the National Guard, trying to shed some light on the real issues they might encounter when they are down there. I understand that the National Guard troops who are being sent down there are essentially following orders, but they do have the option to shoot or not shoot if they’re down there. We’re trying to prevent some deaths that could possibly occur. I’m not saying they are going to happen, but with more troops being sent down there the possibility of another accident, another shooting, another death happening by our US government increases. So that’s why I’m here.”
Courtney Morton, grad student at UT School of Social Work: “We’re working on a project this summer, trying to get people accurate information about immigration and the contribution of immigrants to this country.
“Our school focuses heavily on social activism, like grassroots organizing, and so we’re trying to start an immigration information network to connect the immigration organizations in Austin with immigrants and just get more people out at these events and just knowing about them and what they are, and facts about immigration.”
Jesse: “I’m here because I don’t think they should militarize the border.”
Q: Why not?
Jesse: “Sh*t. It’s wrong. There are many levels of wrong reasons. There’s no reason to have guns down there. It just escalates all tensions and violence. I feel our border should be relaxed. I feel like I should be able to come and go. I feel like other people should be able to come and go. That’s how it goes.”