55-year-old Judy Ackerman arrived at the Rio Bosque (river forest) Wetlands Park at 6:30 am. She crossed the canal through this park she, the Friends of Rio Bosque, and the Sierra Club helped conserve. At 7:00, the construction crews arrived on the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) land and were confronted by this white-haired, retired Army veteran in a hard hat and construction vest. She was cordial, the epitome of nonviolence, chatting cheerfully with the construction crews. As she told the El Paso Times, “They have a job to do, but today their job is to take a break.”
Gandhi once wrote, “There is hope for a violent man to be some day non-violent, but there is none for a coward.” Ms. Ackerman has seen her share of violence throughout her 26 years in the Army, and she’d never be mistaken for a coward. That’s what makes her nonviolent stand against the border wall so compelling. In a completely peaceful demonstration, she singlehandedly held up construction for most of Wednesday, December 17.
While the construction crews resumed building of the border wall through this 370-acre borderland park, pursuant to the Secure Fence Act of 2006, Ms. Ackerman demonstrated that nonviolence is more effective than ever and that border communities are worth preserving. Ackerman told the Associated Press she was motivated to make her stand because, “They have this wonderful park here, and the wall is messing it up. This is life. The river is life. But not the wall; the wall is death.” (AP, Houston Chronicle)
Federal officials are still towing the party line that the 500 miles of border barriers are effective in deterring illegal immigration, drug smuggling, and terrorism (though no terrorists are alleged to have crossed the southern border prior to the border wall construction). Local communities and border residents, however, see a different story. They see the animals traveling 15 miles to get a drink of water. They see the way these border walls merely reroute immigrants through the most lethal parts of the desert. People like Ms. Ackerman know the beauty of this land, a beauty now being marred by 15-feet high border fencing in El Paso, Texas.
I will be venturing down to El Paso in but a few short weeks. I fully plan on going to Rio Bosque and voicing my concerns/protest with those of the nonviolent residents there. Please keep border communities in your prayers this holiday season, and if you are anywhere within a thousand miles, consider coming down to support them in their time of need.
Tags: Ackerman, animals, AP, Army, border barrier, border fence, border wall, Borderland, drug smuggling, el paso, El Paso Times, Friends of Rio Bosque, frontera, frontier, Houston Chronicle, IBWC, illegal immigration, immigration, International Boundary Water Commission, Judy Ackerman, nonviolence, park, rio bosque, Secure Fence Act of 2006, Sierra Club, terrorism, Texas, water, wetlands, wildlife