In a harrowing–but unsurprising–move, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is rejecting a recommendation to stop using deadly force in response to rock-throwers from the Mexican side of the border. What is even more infuriating than this move is the reasoning Border Patrol Chief Mike Fisher gave for rejecting this recommendation: in an interview with the Associated Press he said it’s “very restricting.”
The current policy of Border Patrol says that excessive force is not allowed, but CBP views rocks as deadly weapons. This is particularly troubling when we consider that just last year, Border Patrol killed 16-year-old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez after he allegedly threw rocks at officers across the fence. Local police later concluded after an investigation that the rocks probably did not even have a chance at hitting the agents.
This is unsurprising when we think of the people who are disproportionately impacted by police violence. This is yet another reminder that black and brown bodies are seen as inherent threats and are often subjected to levels of violence that may be unmatched (or may not) by their own actions. Since 2010, nineteen Mexican citizens on the Mexico side of the border have been killed by Border Patrol.
It is completely absurd to think that the only proper response to rocks being thrown from across the fence is to fire bullets at a human being. If you find this as unacceptable as I do, you can sign a petition by Presente.org urging President Obama to stop Border Patrol from continuing to use deadly force in response to rocks thrown at them. Part of the petition reads:
When Customs and Border Protection announced in September that it was going to adopt suggestions for improvement after internal and independent investigations of its use of force policy, Americans at and beyond the border gave a collective sigh of relief. Now, your approval of impunity and unaccountability further erodes my trust in government.
Investigations into Border Patrol’s practices mean nothing if they refuse to make changes. It is literally an issue of life and death.
Wagatwe was once deemed an “exceptionally articulate African-American student” by an Obama administration member.