Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

August 4, 2020

No More Deaths medical station raided with massive show of force by Border Patrol in Arivaca, Arizona

"One volunteer was able to get a few pictures from inside camp when BORTAC and Border Patrol entered. Heavily armed agents drove straight into the humanitarian aid camp in a Bearcat tank as helicopters circled overhead. Border Patrol also brought a cameraman. He filmed the scene as agents chased and arrested people who had sought out humanitarian aid and respite from the 100-degree heat. More photos and footage exist, but phones are still in custody." -- No More Deaths

"Disturbing photos show the aftermath of the raid at Byrd Camp. Last night Border Patrol and BORTAC arrested people receiving care and ransacked the humanitarian aid station, ripping apart tents and destroying medical supplies. In an attempt to suppress documentation of the military-style raid, Border Patrol seized the cell phones volunteers used to document the violence. This morning during clean up, volunteers also saw that agents had disconnected the power to the well, the only water source on the property of the remote desert camp." -- No More Deaths

The military-style raid comes after No More Deaths sought information on the US Border Patrol's swat team BORTAC, which was also just involved in attacking protesters in Portland. In Arivaca, over 30 people were detained who were receiving aid, as the temperatures soared to over 100 degrees.

No More Deaths
August 1, 2020
Update August 4, 2020

ARIVACA, Arizona -- The U.S. Border Patrol raided No More Deaths' humanitarian aid station, detaining over thirty people who were receiving medical care, food, water, and shelter from the 100 plus degree heat. In a massive show of force, Border Patrol, along with the Border Patrol Tactical Unit (BORTAC) - also recently deployed in Portland, Oregon - descended on the camp with an armored vehicle, three ATVS, two helicopters, and dozens of marked and unmarked vehicles. 

When raiding our humanitarian aid camp last night, Border Patrol did have a warrant, but refused to show it upon entry. The warrant specified the seizure of all cell phones and paperwork, in a clear attempt to suppress documentation of their actions, and they were not wearing masks. For two hours, in darkness, they detained and chased people receiving care while a Border Patrol cameraman filmed the scene. The day before, agents had entered the property without a warrant and detained one person receiving care. Border Patrol then set up 24-hour surveillance around the perimeter, deterring anyone else from entering the camp to seek help.
Last night's military style raid on the aid station is a clear example of Border Patrol's deadly pattern of interfering with humanitarian aid. Many No More Deaths volunteers work as EMTs, paramedics, nurses, and doctors. Volunteers are trained to respect the autonomy of individuals receiving care — as is standard practice in the medical field, they only call 911 and Border Patrol with patient consent. All persons at camp had been medically evaluated, were stable, and were receiving continuous care.

The initial detention and surveillance of the aid camp was set up just 24 hours after No More Deaths released emails from a FOIA request revealing the role of BORTAC — the tactical unit recently mobilized against protestors in the United States — and the Border Patrol Union's role in a 2017 raid of the same aid station.

Border Patrol previously raided the same camp in 2017, which predates Dr. Scott Warren's January 2018 arrest for providing humanitarian aid to two individuals. Warren was arrested just hours after No More Deaths released a report detailing Border Patrol's interference with humanitarian aid, along with a video that went viral showing agents destroying water gallons. The message is clear: expose Border Patrol abuses, face retaliation.

Faith Leaders from Tucson are on the ground at Byrd Camp, holding space for prayer and standing in solidarity with people who seek and provide humanitarian aid in the desert.

"Yesterday, Border Patrol harmed over thirty people in irreparable ways. On a daily basis those who migrate through the Arizona desert are targeted, terrorized, detained, and deported." Said Dr. Scott Warren, "Last night we witnessed these tactics deployed against people who sought medical care and relief at No More Deaths' aid station. As always, when humanitarian aid in the borderlands is targeted, those who seek care are the ones that face the brunt of these violent escalations."

No More Deaths/ No Más Muertes is fully committed to continuing our aid work with all those traveling through the borderlands and who are in danger of suffering and death. Humanitarian aid is not a crime.

We will continue to update you as we have further developments and for any calls to action. Thank you again for being with us during this challenging time.

Update Aug. 4, 2020

The warrant authorizing the raid of Byrd Camp was signed by Magistrate Judge Bruce MacDonald. In late 2018 this same judge was pressured to recuse himself from overseeing the #Cabeza9 case of four No More Deaths volunteers because of personal relationships and improper communication.

Medical supplies destroyed during raid by Border Patrol and BORTAC. 

Volunteers approached the Border Patrol agents who stormed camp, asking to see this warrant. They were subsequently detained for two hours and had their cell phones taken, suppressing documentation of the violent raid.

After chasing and terrorizing those receiving care, agents used the document as permission to trash our desert aid station.

The 30+ people that were receiving care at Byrd Camp are listed as “items” to be seized during the raid; “illegal aliens” was placed at the end of a list including cell phones and documentation.

This kind of dehumanization of people crossing the desert exemplifies CBP's daily policies and practices. Border Patrol is a violent paramilitary organization that has caused thousands of people to die and disappear in the borderlands.
If you're able to support our work financially right now, please give here.

In solidarity,
The No More Deaths/ No Más Muertes community

To keep up to date on happenings at our aid camp, follow us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and please spread the word in your communities.

No comments: