Masked Protesters Overrun Museum, Deface Memorial To Fallen Border Patrol Agents
El Paso, TX – Protesters vandalized the U.S. Border Patrol Museum on Saturday and plastered stickers all over the displays honoring fallen agents.
Museum Director David Ham said the vandals stuck 110 stickers on Plexiglas displays, much of which could not be easily removed, KFOX reported.
“Say it loud, say it clear, Border Patrol kills!” protesters chanted inside and outside the museum on Feb. 16, according to the Washington Examiner.
Security cameras captured the protesters’ arrival in the parking lot of the museum.
The group members donned face masks before heading inside the museum at about 2:15 p.m., according to the Washington Examiner.
The museum director said he got a phone call from an upset staff member before the group made it inside.
"We have cameras, and we saw them gathering in the parking lot. We saw them come in the museum, and she had called 911. I was able to watch the cameras on my cellphone. They came in after putting masks on," Ham said.
“That was really intimidating to our staff, plus their kind of aggressive attitude," he said.
The museum director said the protesters scared the visitors to the museum.
“They immediately spread out throughout the museum, and displayed banners and began chanting and singing,” Ham told FOX News via email. “While this was going on, other people in masks went through the museum placing stickers on most of our exhibits. These people were wearing masks, and their actions were concealed by others holding small signs to cover their actions.”
He said people who were actually there to visit the museum hid in the gift shop while the group took over much of the space and livestreamed their occupation, according to the Washington Examiner.
"They proceeded to set up a bunch of signs and just went all over the museum. They of course had an agenda, they were chanting and singing songs, and then a couple of them got on a bullhorn," Ham said. "We had visitors in the museum. They started talking and kind of harassing them. Of course the staff was asking them to leave, and they wouldn’t leave."
The museum is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, and functions as an apolitical educational library with a historic artifact repository. Admission is free, Ham said.
“Our memorial room displays the pictures of 127 agents who have died in the line of duty. It is considered a sacred room by Border Patrol agents, their families, and the families of the fallen agents,” the museum’s director told FOX News. “This group desecrated this room by placing 20 stickers throughout this room, including six on the wall with the pictures of the fallen agents. The problem is the stickers have heavy-duty adhesive, and are extremely hard to remove without damaging the wall.”
Ham, a 31-year veteran of the U.S. Border Patrol, said the approximately 50 demonstrators were asked to leave multiple times but refused, despite claims the organization behind the protest made later.
Military police responded to the scene because of the museum’s remote location on federal land, according to the Washington Examiner.
“BREAKING: Military police have blockaded our people at the Border Patrol Museum after our Nonviolent action to tell the true story of violence behind borders and those who patrol them. Please stay tuned for updates,” Tornillo: The Occupation posted on its Facebook page.
Police briefly detained the group outside the museum and checked the protesters’ identification.
No arrests were made although protesters put stickers on glass, painted walls, mannequins, vehicles, and pictures of fallen U.S. Border Patrol agents.
Ham said the adhesive on the stickers was stronger than normal tape, the Washington Examiner reported.
"It’s very hard to remove. They [staff] tried to remove some and they tear off. We’ve got antique cars, old Border Patrol vehicles, and an aircraft. We’re kind of worried it’s going to peel the paint off," the museum director said. "I know it’s peeled the paint off some of our walls."
He said an effort would be made to prosecute those responsible after an insurance adjustor had assessed the damage done to the museum and its contents, the Washington Examiner reported.