A group of protestors briefly took over and vandalized a U.S. Border Patrol museum near El Paso, Texas, over the weekend, according to footage of the demonstration.
Dozens of protesters held up banners with phrases including “No Deportations on Stolen Ground” and entered the facility on Feb. 16 before defacing the privately owned museum. The protesters refused to leave for about 15 minutes, according to live footage of the incident, recorded by the group, which calls itself “Tornillo: The Occupation.”
Members of the group yelled out phrases such as “Say it loud, say it clear, Border Patrol kills!” Some of the members used face masks to hide their identities.
The museum is a nonprofit that relies on donations, contributions, and gift shop sales, according to its Facebook page, and has no political affiliation. Museum director David Ham said that staff and guests at the facility were worried about their safety.
“That was really intimidating to our staff, plus their kind of aggressive attitude,” Ham, a 31-year veteran of the Border Patrol, told the Washington Examiner.
Ham said that, before the incident, he had received a call from a staff member who was upset. He wasn’t inside the museum at the time.
“We have cameras, and we saw them gathering in the parking lot. We saw them come in the museum, and she had called 911,” Ham said. “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.”
Protesters stuck images throughout the museum of three children who died after illegally entering the United States. An autopsy revealed that one of the children, named Jakelin Caal, died of sepsis. Members also pasted the stickers over the faces of fallen Border Patrol agents.
Police are investigating the incident. After the protesters left the museum, police arrived and gathered information from the members of the group. The museum said in a post that the group will be prosecuted “once the damage is assessed.”