Imagine that you are home minding your own business. You are a simple cattle rancher who wants to spend his days in peace in the Arizona countryside next to the border with Mexico. You are not near any major cities where crime runs rampant. You think that you are safe. However, you wake up one day and your property is getting vandalized. Your house is getting broken into and trucks are stolen. Your livestock is dying from eating plastic bottles that are littered all over your land. In fact, there is so much litter on the ground that it is starting to look like a garbage dump. There is a steady stream of illegal immigrants invading your own version of the Ponderosa.
What would you do to combat the vandals? Call the cops? They don't seem to what to do anything to help watch your land or taken any type of proactive actions to prevent any future occurrences. Would you call your congressman? Senator? Governor? You could, but they don't seem to care either. If no one cares, maybe you would give up and deal with it or move. Maybe you would fight back.
So many would cross his 22,000 acre ranch into the United States that the local and federal law enforcement agencies started calling it "the avenue of choice" of illegal immigrants. In 1998, Roger Barnett, of Douglas, Arizona got tired of waiting for the government to protect his land and chose to fight back. He began patrolling his own property and detaining illegal immigrants entering the country on his property while waiting on law enforcement to come and pick them up. Over the past 10 years, he has exercised his right to protect his property, home, and family by turning over 12,000 illegal immigrants to the Border Patrol.
Now, he is getting sued for $32 million by 16 people that he detained and had arrested back in March 2004. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) claims that Mr. Barnett violated the civil rights of the 5 women and 11 men he captured and held at gunpoint while waiting for law enforcement to come and apprehend them. They go on to accuse Mr. Barnett of "yelling obscenities at them and kicking one of the women." As he was waiting for law enforcement, MALDEF claims that he threatened them in English and Spanish while pointing a pistol at them and his large dog barked at the trespassers.
According to the Washington Times, "Mr. Barnett said some of the ranch's established immigrant trails were littered with trash 10 inches deep, including human waste, used toilet paper, soiled diapers, cigarette packs, clothes, backpacks, empty 1-gallon water bottles, chewing-gum wrappers and aluminum foil - which supposedly is used to pack the drugs the immigrant smugglers give their 'clients' to keep them running."
I don't know about you, but I would not put up with all that he has put up with from the felons that have crossed his property over the years. The right to the ownership of PRIVATE property is one of the founding cornerstone beliefs in what makes this country great. He has an absolute right to protect his ranch, home, and family. According to the many comments on the "Douglas Dispatch" website regarding this issue, most people agree with me.
This lawsuit is an abomination to the Constitution of the United States and all of our rights. He has the perfectly legal right to apprehend and detain individual that are illegally trespassing on his property. It is nothing but a Trojan horse lawsuit to make this an open border country and amnesty for illegal immigrants in this country.
Many on the left will try to demonize Mr. Barnett. "The Barnett brothers have time and time and time again held people at gunpoint," Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center said. "There were cases that may well have amounted to false imprisonment, which is a felony."
Well, this statement is misrepresenting the facts of the case. It is true that if he would hold a random law-abiding person at gunpoint it would be considered kidnapping or false imprisonment. However, they were in fact in the process of committing the federal felony of entering the country illegally and a misdemeanor crime of criminal trespassing. According to Arizona law, people are allowed to do a citizen's arrest when the suspect commits a felony that the arresting citizen witnesses or when a citizen knows that a felony has been committed and has reasonable grounds to believe that the suspect committed it. [See A.R.S. section 13-3884.] (The statute also permits an arrest for a breach of the peace) He was well within his rights to do what he did.
Last March, Judge John Roll denied the Barnetts' motion to dismiss and stated there was sufficient evidence of a conspiracy, denying the plaintiffs their right to interstate travel and the Barnetts' actions were motivated by race, to allow the matter to be presented to a jury.
The trial should have ended right there before it even started. Judge Roll been heavily criticized for his judicial activism. How could he totally ignore Barnett's property rights or the Arizona statue that allows private citizen's to make arrests of people committing felonies in their presence?
As the jury is currently deliberating the fate of Mr. Barnett, I sincerely hope that he is not found libel for violating their "civil rights". If he is, it will set a bad precedent and will basically make every American citizen's private property rights invalid.
A thug who is caught breaking into a man's house and assaulting his wife could claim that his rights were violated if the man protects his wife and apprehends the criminal while waiting for the cops. It would also make it a lot harder for us to prosecute illegal aliens.
How can a foreign criminal sue a U.S. citizen for preventing the criminal from committing another felony on said citizen's property? Something doesn't sound right with that picture.