Border Patrol Museum reopens after protest hits exhibits
EL PASO, Texas (AP) — A museum dedicated to the history of the U.S. Border Patrol has reopened after officials say protesters vandalized exhibits during an organized demonstration earlier this month.
The U.S. Border Patrol Museum in El Paso announced on its Facebook page Wednesday that the museum was welcoming visitors following a protest by immigrant advocates upset over the detention of migrant children at the now-closed detention center in Tornillo, New Mexico.
Protesters posted stickers throughout the facility that included images of migrant children who have died recently in Border Patrol custody, according to museum officials. The stickers were posted on an exhibit for fallen border patrol agents and on other displays throughout the museum on Feb. 16. Activists also left expletive messages in the museum’s guest book.
“It was chaos. They weren’t really violent, but they were extremely organized,” David Ham, the museum’s director, told the El Paso Times after the museum closed. “They knew where to go; they knew where a lot of our cameras were, they knew we were short-staffed on the weekend.”
The demonstrators, who called themselves Tornillo: The Occupation, denied that the protest left behind any permanent damage.
“We took action because the museum and spaces like it exhibit a one-sided perspective of what is happening on the border,” the group said in an emailed statement a few days after the protest.
El Paso police are investigating. No arrests have been made.
It was unclear how much the damage cost the museum. Ham did not immediately return a phone message Thursday from The Associated Press seeking comment.
The privately funded museum, which is near one of the busiest U.S. ports of entry, seeks to tell the history of the Border Patrol as the nation’s views on immigration, travel and border security have changed.
Congress created the U.S. Border Patrol in 1924. The agency slowly grew as its mission transformed from stopping Chinese immigrants crossing in from Mexico to its current role at a time of massive migration, cartel drug smuggling and political skirmishes.