I had seen the headlines for this horrible story but only later realized it was over the “crime” of snapping a picture from his vehicle. Apparently, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents are as psychotic as some other kinds of “law enforcement” officers about cameras. While other places have admitted that you may video record police, and police abuses have been exposed by this method, CBP agents are threatening with prison time and holding Boy Scouts at gun point.
According to Fox News,
Jim Fox, the leader of the Mid-Iowa Boy Scout Troop 111, said the incident occurred earlier this month at a checkpoint along the Alaska – Canada border. The scouts and their leaders were on a 21-day trek from Iowa to Alaska – a trip that had been three years in the planning.
As their vans were moving through a checkpoint into the United States, one of the scouts snapped a photograph. Agents stopped the van and ordered all the passengers to get out. They told the underage photographer that he had committed a federal crime. It was unclear which agency with the Department of Homeland Security’s CBP agency was involved in the incident.
“The agent immediately confiscated his camera, informed him he would be arrested, fined possibly $10,000 and ten years in prison,” Fox told Des Moines television station KCCI.
During the search, one of the scouts tried to retrieve a bag from the roof carrier. When he turned around, Fox said an agent had a loaded pistol pointed at the child.
“He heard a snap of the holster, turns around, and here’s this agent, both hands on a loaded pistol, pointing at the young man’s head,” Fox told the television station.
So, 1) either the Boy Scout troop leader is lying (with the cooperation of the rest of the troop, 2) there was some super secret project in the area that had to stay hidden and made the agents paranoid and criminal, 3) DHS is right about the threat of domestic terrorism but it isn’t what they say it is (this actually includes option #2).
It is not right that Americans are treated this way by their government. This is Gestapo/Banana Republic/Soviet behavior. The people who did this belong in prison with the other people who use gun violence to terrorize innocent people (they can make room for them by furloughing some non-violent drug offenders).
What will be the outcome for these young men forced into a humiliating and intimidating interrogation? This was probably the first encounter with “law enforcement” (I have to use sarcastic quotation marks for these thugs) for some of these boys (perhaps all of them). What consequences will this have in their lives? Will they become compliant and afraid? Or irrationally rebellious? I can’t decide which fate would be worse.
If taking a picture of a federal agent or building is really illegal, then that law needs to be rescinded (I’d prefer it to be struck down by the courts, but that won’t happen).
What country do we live in?
P.S. CBP claims that video exonerates the Border Guards. They have also refused requests from journalists to see the video.