Police have issued warrants for the arrest of 16 people in connection with a February incident in which the National Border Patrol Museum In El Paso, Texas, was vandalized.
The charges range from criminal trespass to criminal mischief resulting in $2,500 to $30,000 in damage, the Washington Examiner reported.
Of the 16, only one was an El Paso resident. Police issued a list of those wanted in connection with the incident. The other 15 came from California, Florida, Missouri, New York, New Mexico and Illinois, KVIA reported.
PHOTOS: These 16 people were allegedly involved in the vandalism of the Border Patrol Museum in Northeast El Paso in February.https://t.co/6dZamjNqHr
— KTSM 9 News (@KTSMtv) April 4, 2019
Police are asking those wanted to turn themselves in.
“Several individuals descended upon the museum and began to commit acts that are defined as criminal mischief and criminal trespass,” El Paso Police spokesman Darrel Petry said.
“They had been asked to leave by some of the museum staff and they refused. They continued to damage some of the exhibits at the museum,” he said.
David Ham, director of the museum, said he’s “pleased” that police have acted, ABC reported. Ham said the incident traumatized his staff. The museum is privately run and has no official connection with the Border Patrol.
“They were pretty shook up. They take a lot of pride in the museum and the work that they do,” Ham said.
Good. Anyone who would be heartless enough to vandalize a monument to those who gave their lives protecting us deserves to be brought to justice. https://t.co/tYCmQXQp6Y
— Dan K. Eberhart (@DanKEberhart) April 5, 2019
The group of activists that swarmed the museum in February called itself Tornillo: The Occupation. On Friday, the group showed no remorse.
“The reasons for doing this action have not changed,” the group said in a statement issued Friday after police announced the issuance of the warrants.
“We feel morally called to resist these inhumanities perpetuated by a government and question why those who are protesting these crimes against humanity … are criminalized more than those perpetuating these inhumanities,” the statement said.
One member of the group said at the time that the action was a protest against America’s immigration policy.
“It was an act of civil disobedience done because we believe there is a humanitarian crisis and human rights violations being perpetuated by a corrupt and broken immigration system,” organizer Elizabeth Vega said, according to KVIA.
Vega would not characterize the group’s actions as vandalism, but said the group put stickers over exhibits showing images of two children who crossed the border illegally and died in Border Patrol custody.
Ham saw things differently.
“They immediately spread out throughout the museum and displayed banners and began chanting and singing,” he told Fox News. “While this was going on, other people in masks went through the museum placing stickers on most of our exhibits. These people were wearing masks, and their actions were concealed by others holding small signs to cover their actions,” he said.
“Our memorial room displays the pictures of 127 agents who have died in the line of duty. It is considered a sacred room by Border Patrol agents, their families and the families of the fallen agents. This group desecrated this room by placing 20 stickers throughout this room, including six on the wall with the pictures of the fallen agents. The problem is the stickers have heavy-duty adhesive and are extremely hard to remove without damaging the wall.”
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