President Donald Trump said members of the U.S. military sent to the southern border to keep out thousands in a migrant caravan would “fight back” and “anybody throwing rocks or stones at the military service members will be considered to be using a firearm.”
His statements Thursday November 1 are unfolding amidst the courtroom proceedings of the second federal trial of a border patrol officer Lonnie Swartz who shot into Mexico through the border wall in Nogales, Arizona/Sonora, killing 16-year old Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez on October 10, 2012.
Swartz’ defense argues that the shooting was justified because they claim Antonio was throwing rocks, something that an eye witness disputed. Community members supporting the family of Jose Antonio in Tucson argue that the federal prosecutor assigned to the case appears to be undermining their own case, leaving out important information, witnesses, and that they are not pressing the border patrol officers present on inconsistency on their accounts of that night.
According to Border Patrol Victim’s Network, the Border Patrol has killed over 100 people since 2003. This trial will be the first time a Border Patrol officer has been criminally indicted since Nicholas Corbett was tried twice in 2007, both times ending with a hung jury.
Trump’s statement and incendiary language will lead to further violence at the hands of security forces, including Border Patrol and the recently deployed 5,200 troops. A successful prosecution in this case would set a precedent of accountability for future cases of human rights abuses in the borderlands.