Border Patrol Bulldozes Iconic Garden

Seems smugglers were using the garden to sneak through
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 25, 2020 5:45 PM CST
Border Patrol Bulldozes Iconic Garden
Erin Cihak, left, and Elizabeth Lara plant native species in Friendship Park, located within California's Border Field State Park in San Diego Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020.   (AP Photo/Elliot Spagat)

The Border Patrol, reacting to a breach it discovered in a steel-pole border wall believed to be used by smugglers, gave activists no warning this month when it bulldozed the US side of a cross-border garden on an iconic bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the AP reports. On Saturday, after a public apology for "the unintentional destruction," the agency allowed the activists in a highly restricted area to plant sticky monkey-flowers, seaside daisies, and other native species in Friendship Park, which was inaugurated by first lady Pat Nixon in 1971 as a symbol of bilateral bonds. The half-acre plaza separating San Diego and Tijuana has hosted cross-border yoga classes, festivals, and religious services.

The garden's rebirth is the latest twist in a sometimes-adversarial, sometimes-conciliatory relationship between security-minded border agents and activists who consider the park a special place to exercise rights to free expression. But the Border Patrol has been less receptive to events that carry an overtly political message or that, in its view, take things too far. In 2017, it rejected the Dresdner Symphony Orchestra's plans for a cross-border concert named, "Tear Down This Wall." The Border Patrol said in a statement after the garden was bulldozed that it was being used "as cover to hide smuggling activities." It released photos that showed a padlock on the Mexican side, which smugglers apparently used to keep the roughly 18-inch opening to themselves.

(Read more US-Mexico border stories.)

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