A different lens on “Shooting by Agents Increase Border Tensions” (NYT 6-11-13)

If you read this article: Shootings by Agents Increase Border Tensions in the New York Times today, please also consider reading Remembering Jose Antonio: Day of the Dead in Nogales from the Border Wars blog.  While I appreciate the NYT’s exposure of fatal shootings at the Border, I was upset to see the NYT open its article by describing, “…rocks hurled from Mexico rained down on United States Border Patrol agents…”

I attended the vigil for Jose Antonio on Day of the Dead when I was in Arizona on the Border Studies Program.  I was able to see, as the Border Wars article describes, the wall on top of the cliff that separated Border Patrol from the site where Jose Antonio was killed.  Whether or not Jose Antonio was throwing rocks at BP agents at the time of his death is a contested detail, and if he was, it is difficult to picture how the rocks could have been “raining down” from Mexico given the geography of the site.

The NYT’s use of this type of description allows the Border Patrol to be seen as the victims of violent and agressive Mexicans.  Border Patrol likes to be seen this way.  This was apparent in my interactions with the Nogales sector of the Border Patrol, who handed us rocks and asked us, “Do you think this would do some damage? Do you think it would hurt?”  But Border Patrol is not the victim in this situation.  They are heavily armed, and their presence creates an environment of fear and intimidation on both sides of the Border.  I hope that this visibility in the New York Times helps end this sort of violence on the Border, but maybe the NYT could invest their time and energy into investigating why this sort of violence is allowed to happen, and why there hasn’t been a single criminal charge of a BP agent since 2010, rather than investing time and energy into crafting sentences that make it sound like the Border Patrol is just barely surviving a hailstorm of boulders.

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