The following is my account of the events surrounding the hostile police presence, harassment of protesters and the unlawful and abusive arrest of three protesters at Carrizo Springs TX, including my friend Rosey Ramos Abuabara, an Indivisible activist and Democratic candidate for the Texas 23rd Congressional District.
On July 3 2019, I attended the Carrizo Springs Detention Center protest along with approximately 200 fellow activists and protesters. Some had brought their children to the event which was publicized as “family friendly”, and certainly would have been, if not for the bad behavior of the police. The action was organized by Children’s Defense Fund Texas, Texas Organizing Project and the Carrizo/Comecrudo Tribe of Texas. Its purpose was to protest the expanding detention of innocent refugees and immigrants and their cruel and inhumane treatment at the hands of the U.S Government.
From the beginning, there was a heavy and intimidating presence of police special forces. They cruised slowly in large black SUVs, persistently driving back and forth inches away from protesters. They were so close that at one protester was hit by a side view mirror as they drove by, and felt she had to leave early to remove her children from this frightening situation. The police periodically interrupted the speakers with sirens and admonishments to “clear the road” as well as operating a drone over the crowd, perhaps to identify participants. The protest action was calm and peaceful, even with the ominous presence of police and sheriff’s officers decked out in body armor. I heard many moving and heartfelt speeches against these cruel and inhuman detention centers by those closest to the battle. But only as the protest was concluding did the real intentions of this hostile, aggressive police presence become clear.
I had heard from action organizers that they had pre-arranged with the facility administrators to allow people who came in their personal vehicles to park along the roadway provided they stayed clear of the road surface, which they did. Activists saw and photographed deputies looking inside the parked cars during the protest. Just as people were leaving to return to their cars, the facility admin/police broke this agreement, perhaps they never planned to abide by it. Several tow trucks suddenly appeared and began to tow cars away, even though the cars were not obstructing the road in any way. Because the tow trucks were blocking the road, no one could get out, and many of us became upset at this provocation and gathered along the roadside. The timing of the towing was obviously orchestrated to cause chaos among the protesters and give the Sheriff deputies a pretext to arrest people, as they had a police van standing by for that purpose. According to witnesses, two activists engaged one of the tow drivers in a conversation, during which a police officer determined that the driver was “offended” by their comments, and arrested the activists illegally using brutal and abusive tactics, including the use of a taser.
At this point I arrived in the vicinity of the police van and heard lots of yelling and people chanting “Let them go!” at the police on the scene. I saw my friend Rosey Abuabara talking to a police officer, and after a short time, I saw them grab her violently without warning or justification, throw her to the ground, arrest her and put her into the police van. I believe they had already decided to arrest people no matter what, even though no crimes were committed. I rode to the Dimmitt County Sheriff’s office with another activist to await information on Rosey’s situation. There were at least a dozen activists already there. I was inspired to see multiple people there working feverishly making calls to lawyers, elected officials and press to get the word out about what had happened and try to get the three activists freed. The Dimmitt county authorities slow walked the processing in order to force the three to spend the night in jail. They were eventually freed after about 24 hours in detention.
Clearly Dimmitt county authorities wanted to make example of us, and acted in a shameful, illegal and intentionally provocative way. They escalated the situation in order to intimidate us and discourage further actions. Our country is governed by the rule of law, and having peaceful protesters subject to arbitrary detention by police is plainly un-American. We have the RIGHT to expect protection BY the police and should not need protection FROM them. This sorry spectacle showed a fundamental disrespect for us by the police. They violated our first amendment rights, subjected us to abuse, and treated us as either potential criminals or adversaries to be subdued. Such premeditated and pre-planned harassment is outrageous and is an offense to the constitution and our American traditions. This incident should be a wakeup call to anyone who might think our basic rights are not in danger. I never thought I would see firsthand the kind of repression worthy of a banana republic here in these United States that I defended in my twenty-year career in the armed forces. As a veteran, I am appalled that our government is imprisoning and abusing children in our name, and at the same time attempting to suppress the actions and silence the voices of the defenders of those being harmed. This shall not stand.
Activist, TX20 Indivisible
MSGT USAF, Retired
Campaign Manager, Rosey for TX-23
Rosey is still in quite a bit of pain from her arrest, but is recovering. When she is ready to tell her story, I will post. They charged her with “interfering with a peace officer in the performance of his duties”. The video clearly shows that she did no such thing. She and the others are intending to sue the Dimmitt County Sheriffs
Department. Here are photos of some of her injuries: