Monday, November 7, 2011

One-man stand at the border


Glenn Spencer
Controversial border crackdown supporter Glenn Spencer holds one of the sensors he uses to create a 'sonic barrier' on his Arizona property. (Thane Burnett/QMI Agency)
PALOMINAS, ARIZ. - We miss you Duke. Your black and white of things.
A glance to the horizon -- past the San Pedro River toward the rugged Mexican side where John Wayne used to ride -- would almost make you believe time stands still on America's southwestern frontier.


Property once owned by Wayne, locals here claim, is now a rallying point for Mexican drug runners.
To stop them, 19th century barbed cattle wire has been replaced -- here and there -- by the 21st century fence.

And on both sides of the divide, neighbours are pitted against neighbours.

Recently, a federal judge tossed out a lawsuit by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer -- a counter-suit to a U.S. Justice Department court action questioning the constitutionality of the state's tough immigration law. That law requires police officials here to, when in doubt, determine the immigration status of people they question.

The governor has argued the president has not secured the Arizona border.

Today, this area said to be a smuggling corridor is Glenn Spencer's backyard.

Today -- like every day -- Spencer patrols his land with five German shepherds.

A controversial activist and businessman who moved from California in 2002 -- proclaiming his home state had lost the effort to secure its border -- he's built his own forbidden zone here.

Some mistrust him. Some say he should be applauded.

"We know more about the border than anyone," he tells me.

"The thing they don't want people to know is they don't really want to seal it off.

"If I sound a little upset, I'm justified."

On patrol, his dogs nip at one another, as Spencer barks commands.

Each step kicks up loose rocks, old animal bones and locusts.

"Watch for snakes," he yells.

"And the javelinas," he adds of the nasty pig-like mammals.

The dogs don't have to be told to watch for trespassers.

Along the Arizona border, there are a multitude of private citizens and groups -- some labelled as vigilantes -- taking contentious stands.

Spencer's land is a sort of test lab for security measures -- from his own air surveillance to elaborate buried sensors that pick up footsteps from 700 feet away.

His American Border Patrol built and flew one of the first remote drones over the line -- though federal officials have grounded it.

He says he's holding the U.S. border patrol and federal officials accountable -- testing their batting average.
But the Southern Poverty Law Center has Spencer's organization listed as a hate group.

Marilyn Mayo, co-director of the Anti-Defamation Leagues (ADL) Centre on Extremism, based in New York, says Spencer straddles a line, by promoting a popular border security stance, while still holding more extreme views.

"He's seen as a expert, but holds conspiratorial and racist views," she alleges.

Spenser admits at least one neighbour took a shot at him and gripes that he's been blacklisted by the mainstream American media. But he maintains he has no nefarious motives and has plenty of support.
He's also spoken before many influential lawmakers and politicians.

Back at his main house -- the dogs cooling off in a manmade pond -- Spencer says he won't be frightened off his mission by what some think of him.

"My last stand will be here on the border," he says. "We will prevail."


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.