Investigators say a clash at the U.S.-Mexico border near San Diego involving more than 100 people pelting Border Patrol agents with rocks and bottles was an event organized long before the chaos began.
“We are still looking into who organized it, but clearly this was an organized event,” Chief Border Agent Paul Beeson told NBC 7 San Diego on Wednesday.
The border riot involving the unruly crowd happened Sunday in the Tijuana River Channel, near the San Ysidro Port of Entry. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials said the crowd began hurling rocks and bottles at agents as they tried to illegally cross into the United States.
Now, a video and piece of paper proves the event was planned, according to officials.
Officials said a flier containing a message written in Spanish was distributed in the days leading up to the event. The flier encouraged people to meet at the border on Nov. 24 and attempt to cross over into the U.S. together. The flier mentions reunions with family members and living the “American Dream.”
Cell phone video obtained by NBC 7 shows what actually happened that day.
Lined up by the dozens along the U.S.-Mexico border, the calm in the crowd did not last long. At the same time, roughly 100 people started running towards the border, straight at Border Patrol agents.
As the video shows, the agents immediately call for backup upon realizing what’s happening. Soon enough, people can be seen throwing objects at the agents.
“Rocks are flying. Bottles are flying. That is a recipe for disaster,” said Beeson.
In return, Beeson said agents used pepper spray, pepper balls and tasers in an attempt to thin the crowd.
CBP officials said many of the Mexican nationals in the crowd were ordered to stop by Border Patrol agents, but they continued walking into the U.S.
Even with backup assistance, the agents were outnumbered by the crowd. Officials said one agent was even hit on the head with a full water bottle. Once agents used “intermediate use-of-force” devices, the group retreated back to the Mexico side of the border.
Christian Ramirez of The American Friends Service Committee said the entire situation is worrisome. His group tracks border violence and Ramirez said it’s important to find out which side first instigated the violence, and how it got to that point.
This isn’t the first time border agents have been attacked, which is exactly why the Border Patrol said it takes any violence very seriously.
“This was a stupid thing to do. You’re placing the agents at risk and also those individuals you are encouraging at risk,” said Beeson.
Despite potential for a much bigger disaster, in the end, most walked away from the chaos just wiping their eyes from the pepper spray. No one was seriously injured, and no one made it past border agents.
Beeson said that if investigators do find out who distributed those fliers and organized the event, that person or persons could face criminal charges.