‘This is not a wall.’

by on March 20, 2009 · 1 comment

in Civil Disobedience, Civil Rights, Media, Organizing, San Diego, War and Peace

Here is a picture of Jill Holslin standing in front of the second barrier that cuts across several miles of the San Diego-Tijuana urban corridor. Please note: THIS IS NOT A WALL.

by John Fanestil

My new friend, who works for the Border Patrol, resists my use of the word “wall” to describe the vast system of barriers being erected along the length of the U.S.-Mexico border.   He would prefer that I – and others who oppose current U.S. border policy – talk about the barriers by referring to them as “tactical infrastructure.”

There is a second barrier that now spans the western-most 3.5 miles of the border, and cuts through the Tijuana Estuary and Border Field State Park at a distance ranging from 150 feet to 800 feet north of the border:

Finally, here is a line of vehicles and Border Patrol agents that now prevent public access to Friendship Park , the historic border park where for generations people from San Diego and Tijuana have gathered to visit with friends and family through the border fence:

Please note: THIS IS NOT A WALL.

When people try to access the border fence, this is what they come up against:

Please note: THIS IS NOT A WALL.

On February 21 Dan Watman and I were detained and then released for contesting this barrier.   (Watch the 6-minute video.)  On March 1 we met with a similar fate and a Border Patrol agent threatened Nick Correte, a member of our group who happened to be on crutches, with a blast from a pepper-spray gun.  (Watch the 2-minute video.)   On recent Sunday afternoons, informal gatherings of people on the beach near Friendship Park have been met in a similar fashion:

So what are we to make of this?  Clearly, the policy of prohibiting public access to the border fence is now in full effect.  The U.S. land adjacent to the border – all 1,969 miles of it – has now been federalized and declared off limits to U.S. citizens.  Any who would try to access the borderlands from the north are now met with the same strategies that Border Patrol agents use to prevent Mexican nationals (and others) from crossing the border from the south.  (I don’t blame the agents for this – they are now being asked to carry out work which is outside their true mission and for which they have not been properly trained.)

What we are witnessing is another epochal transformation of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands.  In the early 20th century, what was once wide-open “frontier” was marked with a “line.”  In the second half of the 20th century, this line had a “fence” built on it.  And now, in the early decades of the 21st century, north of the border fence, a “wall” is being erected.

Oops!  Sorry, I forgot: THIS IS NOT A WALL.

While no formal events are currently planned at Friendship Park , many people continue to visit the park, especially on Sunday afternoons.  The traditional Sunday meetup time is at 2:30 p.m. in the parking lot to Border Field State Park .  Take Hwy 5 South, exit Dairy Mart Road and go west.

John Fanestil is the executive director of Foundation for Change. To learn more about upcoming activities of the Friends of Friendship Park coalition, visit our new website:  www.friendshippark.org.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

avatar annagrace March 22, 2009 at 6:53 pm

Actually- this IS a wall. It is a wall meant to separate two countries. “Tactical infrastructure” on the other hand is spin meant to separate people’s brains from a troubling reality. And yes, we know the difference.


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