Anna Giaritelli, Washington Examiner, February 20, 2019
The National Border Patrol Museum in El Paso, Texas, will remain closed the rest of the week as federal investigators pore over the more than 100 acts of vandalism.
Their efforts could lay the basis for an FBI case against the “professional” protesters who stormed the private facility last weekend, according to the museum director.
David Ham, a Border Patrol retiree who oversees museum operations, told the Washington Examiner the Army Criminal Investigations Division Command has taken over the investigation because the museum is located on Fort Bliss, which is federal land.
“We’re finding out a lot of these folks were professional agitators. One of them was the female who climbed the Statue of Liberty. One who led the protests in Ferguson, Mo.,” he said.
Ham said the damage is being preserved for military officials who will be in and out of the museum all week taking pictures of each of the 110 pictures that were glued onto various objects inside, including 20 tacked onto the pictures of Border Patrol agents who died in the line of duty.
The pictures show three children, including Jakelin Caal. The 7-year-old died hours after illegally entering the United States near Antelope Wells, N.M., and an autopsy cited sepsis, a blood condition she would have had prior to being taken into custody, as the reason for her death.
He was referring to Therese Okoumou, who climbed the Statue of Liberty as a protest against President Trump’s immigration policies on Jan. 5, 2018, and Elizabeth Vega, who was involved in demonstrations in Ferguson, Mo., following the police shooting of Michael Brown in 2014.
The amount of vandalism done to the museum is “far larger” than what the estimated 50 protesters told military police who responded to the 911 calls from museum staff Saturday afternoon, he said.
Although no serious damage was done, there is an extensive amount of minor damage from the more than 100 pictures on plexiglass, painted walls, signs, mannequins, and cars. The adhesive on the back of the pictures is stronger than tape or regular glue, and the few officials have tried to remove have ruined the surfaces they were adhered to.
Ham said he and investigators have poured over video footage of the incident and can see how the group used specific members to paste the pictures throughout the museum while others stood in specific locations to distract staff from what was going on. He said they have evidence one person previously visited the museum and scoped it out.
“The whole thing was organized with where they were supposed to stand,” said Ham. “They took great effort to conceal the people placing the stickers throughout the museum. We’ve identified the person who went into the memorial and placed all the stickers.”