Civil rights group demands to know why Texas police snipers watched Mexican-American parade

‘What are police snipers doing at a peaceful parade in our city streets? We’re going to find out’

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Friday 04 March 2022 22:45 GMT
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Civil rights advocates are asking Texas authorities why a pair of camo-clad snipers were sent to watch over a late-February parade celebrating Mexican-American heritage.

“What are police snipers doing at a peaceful parade in our city streets? We’re going to find out,” Andre Segura, legal director of the Texas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Unions, said on Friday.

Journalist Michelle García spotted the two gunmen looming over the Charro Days festival in Brownsville, Texas, on 26 February, on the roof of the city’s historic Majestic Theater. Her photos appear to show two men in military dress, with a spotter telescope and a high-powered sniper rifle.

Community members were shocked and outraged at the deployment.

“As a city, with a fabric of mixed status families and people, we need to make sure everyone feels included in this celebration,” artist Nansi Guevara said at the time. “Border Patrol has increased surveillance and fear tactics, intimidation in the region…The community deserves to enjoy an event without fear.”

“My immediate thoughts, in general, is that snipers [are] a tactic of war,” added Ms García in KRGV. “Therefore, what it communicates is that this is a war zone; that this is an unsafe space and it’s also a tactic of intimidation.”

In a statement, the Brownsville Police Department said “the use of security measures comes to the effects of the recent parade tragedies,” pointing to a vehicle attack on Christmas parade in Wisconsin in 2021 that killed six people.

The ACLU has sent a public information act request to Texas officials to get more information on which authorities were surveilling the parade.

Charro Days is an important event where “border residents celebrate the region’s rich multicultural and binational identity,” the organisation wrote in its records request.

The event has been a local tradition since 1938, according to the parade’s organisers.

“The event commemorates the Mexican heritage of the area on both sides of the Rio Grande, and is named in honour of the ‘Charro,’ that dashing Mexican gentleman cowboy,” they write on their website.

The city of Brownsville sits at the very southern tip of Texas, and is a heavily militarized border-crossing point.

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