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March 8, 2024 by ABNER HÄUGE

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On Saturday last week, local activists said a group of white men went out to the Jacumba, CA Customs and Border Patrol Open Air Detention Site. According to activists, they looted and destroyed makeshift shelters activists built for asylum seekers along with federally-owned portable bathrooms and a water tank. Activists photographed the mens’ faces and vehicle before they left. 

Photos of the group of men were first circulated on Twitter by Free Shit Collective, a group that volunteers at the border. In addition to breaking apart shelters, activists saw some of the men leave with stolen sleeping bags in their trucks.

There is a long and violent history of racist vigilantes at the border from David Duke and the Klan trekking around the U.S.-Mexico border to hunt immigrants to recent stunts like the “God’s Army” demonstration in Texas that LCRW previously covered in support of Gov. Abbott’s use of the Texas National Guard to block CBP from rescuing migrants.

LCRW received an account of the incident from activists who wished to remain anonymous and used pseudonyms. They said that on Saturday morning March 2nd, the group was on their way to the site in Jacumba to do their usual work providing survival supplies to migrants kept in the open-air detention area. As LCRW previously reported, Border Patrol operates a detention site in Jacumba, providing very little to asylum seekers who usually rely on supplies from volunteers to stave off the harsh temperatures.

The driver for the group of activists, alias “J” was with the author of the article (who refers to themself as “author” in the account LCRW received) along with two other volunteers. The group drove past the Valley of the Moon camp, seeing “a group of hippies in a school bus” who’d made previous arrangements to camp out in the area. They then saw a group with trash grabbers around 9am. 

“No migrants were present on site at that time,” the author of the account wrote to LCRW.

According to their account, another activist at the site alerted “J” that while driving by, they saw a group destroying the shelters volunteers had built the day before. “J” and the group drove to the site to check it out and arrived at 11:02. They saw two vehicles—a black Jeep parked near the road to the west with an “Our Lady of Peace” girls’ school decal and a sedan to the east of a dumpster. There was a white, younger man with sunglasses and medical grade gloves and a hoodie over his head at the scene. He was eating a protein bar standing by a fire pit north of the shelters. At 11:05 “J,” the author and the other two volunteers exited the vehicle and saw damage to the shelters, a water tank and knocked over portable restrooms. The account’s author found a finishing hammer dangling from a torn tarp and another hammer on the ground. The shelter was mostly intact, but the tarps were ripped by the claws of the hammer and otherwise broken off from the structure.

“Was this you?” J asked the man in the hoodie, saying the portable toilets and water tank were federal property.

“Hey, okay the portapotties wasn’t me, that was the wind,” he replied.

According to the account, the alleged vandal had his hand in his right pocket, though the activists couldn’t discern the bulge of a weapon.

“You got nothing better to do than fuck with peoples’ lives? Why don’t you get a job, loser!” the account’s author told the man in the hoodie.

The man in the hoodie replied that he was a minor. He repeated this claim in a confrontation with another volunteer later in the day.

After a back and forth, the man in the hoodie walked to the black Jeep, in which two other men were already sitting. But he got back out and came back to the volunteers—asking if they’d seen a trash grabber he was missing.

“Shocked by the hilarity and brazenness of asking for lost and found from a group [he] had just vandalized, volunteers told him to give up,” the author wrote to LCRW.

During this last exchange, the alleged vandal’s hand was still in his right pocket. After the exchange, the two men in the Jeep—a blond man and a man wearing a sun hat—joined the alleged vandal in searching for the trash picker. After they failed to find the trash picker, volunteers demanded they leave. They did, then the blond man and the  took a wide circular walk, keeping away from volunteers, to the other parked sedan. The two vehicles drove off and volunteers assessed the damage.

“Multiple shelters had been ripped, sleeping bags and blankets had been removed from shelters and placed in the fire pit. A tent had been broken down and poles placed in fire pit,” activists’ account to LCRW read. 

They said “J” “caught a photo of volunteer’s sleeping bags and the tent in the back of the Jeep.”  Activists also found “the hose to the water tank was punctured and the straps securing the tank had been cut. 3 port-o-potties were overturned,” though they may have been knocked over by strong winds.

Two hours after the incident, according to activists, between 60-80 asylum seekers, including 10-15 children arrived at the partially destroyed camp. 

Joe Orellana contributed to this report.


Abner Häuge (they/them) is a journalist and you can’t say they’re not because they got a Master’s from UC Berkeley’s Journalism School. After better journalist @desertborder texted them a hilarious screenshot of a Fox News segment, they spent all night memeing ‘ATTACK AND DETHRONE GOD’ and it became their catchphrase. You can usually find them in the bisexual aisle of the supermarket stocking up on Pocari Sweat for the boog.


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