Last week, WorldNetDaily reported that a pair of volunteers from property rights group Ranch Rescue were arrested for allegedly pistol-whipping a Salvadoran man and woman who were criminally trespassing on private property. I just happened to be in the neighborhood, so I coordinated with WND news editor Art Moore to cover the initial and follow-up stories.
Essentially, this is what happened: A four-man detachment invited onto property near Hebbronville, Texas, owned by rancher Joe Sutton were interdicting illegal immigrants – scores of them – and managed to find the two Salvadorans hiding in brush on the property. The man and woman were given water, food and a blanket, then were taken by van to Sutton's front gate, where he ordered them released after waiting 45 minutes for Border Patrol agents to drive seven miles to the property from a nearby inspection station [BP showed up a short while later].
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The next few details are hazy, but it seems that sometime after their release, the Salvadoran couple was picked up by Border Patrol agents. Several hours later, two Ranch Rescue volunteers – Casey Nethercutt of California and Hank Conner of Louisiana – were arrested by Texas Ranger Sgt. Doyle Holdridge and charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a weapon and two counts of unlawful restraint for allegedly pistol-whipping and detaining the couple. Holdridge told me the Salvadorans looked bruised and battered, but WND was not allowed to see them. He said the couple picked Nethercutt and Conner out of a photo array.
But Ranch Rescue national spokesman Jack Foote, who was leading the four-man security team, says he has pictures of the couple taken just prior to their release – he says they didn't have a scratch on them. When asked if they had been beaten, he calmly replied: "It never happened."
Meanwhile, outside Sierra Vista, Ariz., earlier this week, members of the Civil Homeland Defense say they were "given attitude" by a Border Patrol agent who "lectured" them about their border activities. One of the CHD members told me he called BP agents after coming across a couple dozen illegals in a nearby border region, one of whom was a woman suffering from asthma. He said CHD members informed the BP the woman needed medical assistance, but several minutes later – possibly 30-45 minutes or so – no professional help had arrived.
"Who do you think will get blamed for denying an illegal immigrant medical treatment?" the CHD member asked sardonically.
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Which brings me back to the Ranch Rescue case. Though I only just met Jack Foote, he seems like a decent, Christian family guy who doesn't appear to harbor ill-will toward people, regardless of their immigrant status, and he especially doesn't seem the type who would sanction brutality. These observations have been seconded by others who have known him longer than I.
Also, as many Border Patrol agents will testify, being falsely accused of mistreatment is a staple in the repertoire of the illegal alien. When complaints are made against civilians, law-enforcement authorities have to check them out, but what seems clear to me in these recent instances is that the known lawbreaker – the illegal alien – is getting the better end of our system of justice's motto, which is supposed to be "innocent until proven guilty." As of this writing, the Ranch Rescue boys are still locked up as Ranch Rescue, a volunteer group, tries to raise their bail of $20,000 (10 percent of their $200,000 bond).
It is apparent that there is a growing fear and loathing by officialdom of groups that are volunteering their time and talent in an effort to help border authorities do their jobs. As Americans, we have a right to defend ourselves and our country, but this seems to be a concept lost on an increasing number of federal, state and local police agencies. Maybe that's a byproduct of the government's longtime monopoly on law enforcement, no matter how ineffective it's been.
Here's a suggestion: Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies should enlist, train, arm and regulate "volunteer posses" to help secure our borders. It's a job that needs doing, and the cooperation would eliminate misunderstandings and feelings of ill-will between civilian and cop.
Our borders are not secure, but they should be. By working together, they can be.