Activist Alison Bane (Miller) McLeod DOB 1963, photo from the video " Border Patrol in The Bushes"
Bisbee anti government activist, Alison Bane McLeod lives at 939 E Border Rd AZ (520-432-1476), a few miles east of Bisbee where she confronted Customs and Border Patrol Agents from the Horse Patrol in the process of apprehending illegal border crossers. Holding a video camera McLeod approached the agents and was asked courteously, not to video their faces (this is on the film.) McLeod ignored their request, got closer with her video camera and began verbally heckling them and then asking questions. She was repeatedly asked to stand aside and not film their faces or the face of the man in custody but simply ignored their requests. One of the CPB agents then explained to her that they were not authorized to answer her questions and gave her the number at CBP headquarters where she could contact a public relations officer. This is standard procedure for just about every agency from police to fire departments and many corporate entities.
McLeod took detailed video of the CPB Agents after being asked repeatedly not to video their faces, then irresponsibly posted a very derogatory video showing the CBP Agents faces on YouTube. YouTube removed the video. The border in that area has become a very dangerous sector and it is definitely a reasonable request for CBP Agents to want to protect their anonymity and respect the identity of the man in custody.
McLeod states she has the right to video government officials in public but these men where government workers doing an assigned job. Professional multimedia reporters have the courtesy and respect for agents safety, and blur direct face shots if the video is of course not accusatory but still news worthy. This video was neither, but if anything should prevail in the video, it would be how the CBP Agents handled the situation with a great deal of patients and professionalism in dealing with McLeod and the respect showed for the individual in custody.
This shoddy video is merely another piece in the No More Deaths campaign (Culture of Cruelty) to systematically assault US Customs and Border Protection. McLeod was immediately defended by the ACLU. Of course McLeod did not include any personal information of her own in the video. McLeod’s information in this article came form public web search.
An interesting note is that McLeod had no concern for any rights but her own when she even used copyrighted music of the popular James Bond Series as the soundtrack for her video which the ACLU posted on their website with total disregard for copy right protection laws, the safety of CPB Agents or the rights of the man in custody.
ACLU Says Bisbee Activist Has First Amendment Right to Post Border Patrol Video on YouTube
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, September 30, 2011
Alessandra Soler Meetze, ACLU of Arizona, (602) 773-6006 (office) or 602-301-3705
PHOENIX – In a letter sent Thursday to YouTube administrators, the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona criticized the online company for censoring a video of United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents arresting a man with a bloody nose.
The 5-minute video, dubbed “Border Patrol in the Bushes,” was taken by Bisbee activist Alison McLeod, who pulled out her video camera and started filming Border Patrol agents arresting an individual after she heard helicopters and saw several agents, on horseback and on foot, on her property on August 31st. The video shows four CBP agents walking an individual in handcuffs through her property to a white CBP truck parked on a public road. McLeod posted it on YouTube on September 2nd where it received “hundreds” of views within hours. Ten days after the video was posted, YouTube officials took it down, citing privacy complaints by CBP agents.
“This is yet another example of a private online community trampling on our First Amendment rights and trying to exercise greater control over what we share and watch online,” said Alessandra Soler Meetze, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona. “People have the right to film government officials carrying out their duties in public places. By censoring this type of protected speech, YouTube officials not only violated their own guidelines, but they’ve managed to silence debate around U.S. immigration practices along the U.S.-Mexico border.”
According to YouTube, three complaints about the video were filed; two of them were posted by CBP agents. Within hours of the YouTube posting, a CBP supervisor showed up unannounced at McLeod’s doorstep, telling her 19-year-old daughter who was home at the time that he was inquiring about the YouTube video. The agent then offered to give McLeod and her daughter a tour of the Border Patrol facilities and the local search area.
“This is the reality of border enforcement for those of us living on the border,” said McLeod, who has been living on the border since 1997. “Rather than trying to intimidate residents like me who are simply trying to make CBP more accountable to the public, they should respect the rights of all people living on the border.”
The ACLU sent a separate letter to the CBP’s Tucson Field Office, arguing their involvement in trying to remove the video constitutes “severe government interference with McLeod’s constitutional rights.”
“Customs and Border Protection is now the nation’s largest federal law enforcement agency and it operates with total impunity, accountable to no one and with little government oversight,” added Meetze. “This video and CBP’s response to it underscores the need for greater transparency.”
Although YouTube has privacy guidelines that allow them to remove content where an individual is “uniquely identifiable,” the ACLU argues in its letter to both YouTube and CBP that public officials have no reasonable expectation of privacy while exercising their official duties in public places. The ACLU letter also points out that “nothing distinguishes McLeod’s videos from the hundreds of videos already on YouTube demonstrating various law enforcement activities.”
“YouTube boasts that it is the biggest news platform in the world,” wrote ACLU of Arizona Legal Director Dan Pochoda in his three-page letter to YouTube. “One of the goals of a free press is to hold government officials accountable for their actions. Granting law enforcement a de facto veto over materials they find objectionable or unflattering would violate and jeopardize that mission.”
The letter to YouTube asks the company to allow McLeod to repost her video and any future videos of government officials performing their duties. The ACLU also is asking CBP to stop interfering with McLeod’s efforts to videotape and photograph CBP activities on her own property or public land, and to rescind its complaints seeking the removal of the video from YouTube.
Click here to read the letter to YouTube.
Click here to read the letter to CBP’s Tucson Field Office.
A remake of the video titled Border Patrol in the Bushes Dos has been posted again on YouTube.
Update: Alison McLeod now tries to silence this blog
Karl W Hoffman
Documentary Film Producer