U.S. Border Patrol violence sparks protest

U.S. Border Patrol violence sparks protest

by Ana Ceballos

02_27_13_News_Borderprotest_Cred?2Amid a crowd of protestors, a woman raised the picture of Anastasio Hernández-Rojas, a man who protestors claim was “tased and beaten without mercy” by more than a dozen border patrol agents.

In 2010, 42-year-old Hernández-Rojas, a father of five, was in the process of being deported after living in San Diego for nearly three decades.

During his arrest, he was hog-tied and handcuffed. According to the arresting agents, Hernández-Rojas resisted, which prompted them to use a stun gun on him. He suffered a heart attack before being transferred to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead due to lack of oxygen to the brain, according to KPBS.

Abajo y a la Izquierda community activist Bertha Gutierrez organized a crowd of protestors, including children, wives and activists; she considers the acts of the border patrol as an “abuse of power and corruption.”


Protestors gathered less than 20 feet away from the San Ysidro Port of Entry. More than 50 protestors stood together holding banners reading “We want transparency” and “Stop killing our families,” along with dozens of pictures of the alleged victims of abuse by customs and border agents that have resulted in death.“I’m sick and tired of being here at the border protesting about this,” Gutierrez said as a tear ran down her cheek. “But there is no accountability. When are we ever going to see justice for these families?”

Families of the victims used microphones to amplify the names of their dead family members. Standing less than 20 feet away, five border patrol agents across the street were seen mocking the protestors’ chants.

02_27_13_News_borderprotest_Cred?_3One of the border patrol agents, who refused to state his name said he did not hear or see any people protesting, despite being approximately 10 yards away from the crowd and having started his shift 12 hours prior to the protest.

“They put on a uniform and their personalities change completely,” Gutierrez said. “They are no different than us, but once they put on that badge, they transform into someone they are not.”

Gutierrez says Hernández-Rojas’ “border patrol brutality” is one in more than 20 cases that have yet to find accountability. She also said, out of the 20 cases she knows of, half of them dealt with people younger than 18.

Although the U.S.-Mexico border is known for its surveillance, Hernández-Rojas’ death was allegedly not captured on any of the cameras surrounding the border. However, two videos were captured on cellphones by pedestrians. One of the two videos, which was shot by Ashley Young, shed light on the U.S. Border Patrol in what protestors are calling “border patrol brutality.”

The video, which was aired on PBS, showed Hernández-Rojas surrounded by more than 12 agents, some tasing him and one even taking off his pants and walking away with them.

“I think I witnessed someone being murdered,” Young told PBS.

After Hernández-Rojas’ death, the San Diego medical examiner declared his death a homicide and the San Diego Police Department investigated the incident.

“Mistreatment or misconduct by a CBP agent or officer will not be tolerated in any way and will continue to cooperate fully with any effort to investigate allegations of misconduct,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Ralph DeSio said in a statement.

But, as of today, no agents have been charged for Hernández-Rojas’ case.

A U.S. attorney said methamphetamine was found in his body and that he was charged for being resistant with the agents while in custody.

“It was ruled a homicide and we are still looking for closure,” Gutierrez said. “We won’t stop until we get transparency.”