EL PASO – A day after a peaceful protest organized by the Border Network for Human Rights (BNHR), and supported by its allies, BNHR executive director, Fernando García, was cited by the El Paso Police Department (EPPD) of allegedly breaking established procedures during the event. The citation was delivered by two EPPD officers at his personal residence, while his underaged children were present. Below is a statement attributable to BNHR executive director, Fernando García:
“On Tuesday, Jan. 12, BNHR led a peaceful and lawful action, along with various local elected officials and organizations, in protest of President Trump’s incendiary visit to Alamo, Texas to inspect the completion of 400 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border wall and further spread his hateful, racist rhetoric just days before the end of his presidency. The BNHR action was held lawfully after having an intent to picket request accepted in the eleventh hour by the EPPD. BNHR hired four off-duty sheriff’s deputies to assist with the protest. There were also EPPD officers present. At no time during the peaceful protest did EPPD complain of any issues with the protesters.
The following day, while BNHR executive director Fernando García was working from home with his wife and children, he was abruptly interrupted by two EPPD officers who appeared at his door to hand-deliver a citation at the request of the EPPD Chief’s Office “Headquarters”, stating that the organization (BNHR) had violated the intent to picket permit, citing incorrect claims that the protest participants had been walking on the street rather than the sidewalk, as required. When Mr. García inquired as to why the EPPD had not issued the citation on-site the day of the event if that was the case, the officers provided no explanation, other than that EPPD leadership sent the order.
BNHR is appalled and disgusted by this apparent abuse of power carried out by the El Paso Police Department, and in particular, by the Police Chief’s Office. BNHR can only perceive this action as targeted and retaliatory, with content discrimination intent against the organization (BNHR) for its consistent calls for accountability within the EPPD and for the resignation of Chief Greg Allen for allowing and promoting a system of impunity within the department. This incident was not only a violation of the First Amendment constitutional right to peacefully protest, but also a clear intimidation tactic, by sending officers directly to Mr. García’s home, in the middle of a pandemic, where his family watched the interaction unfold.
However, BNHR and its executive director, Mr. García, refuse to be intimidated. The organization will fight this citation in court, continue to exercise its rights, and intensify the call for EPPD accountability and justice for all El Pasoans who have been victims of their abuse. And, in this process, BNHR will maintain the demand for Chief Allen to be held accountable for abuse of power practices and for acting with complete impunity, to the detriment of the El Paso community.”
The Border Network for Human Rights, founded in 1998, is one of the leading human rights advocacy and immigration reform organizations in the U.S. BNHR has over 7,000 members in West Texas and Southern New Mexico. To learn more about BNHR, please visit https://bnhr.org/
Alia El-Assar | (202) 938-6511 | email@example.com
This post was originally published on BORDER NETWORK FOR HUMAN RIGHTS.