Donate
MSNBC screengrab

In a federal court in Tucson on Friday, four Arizona activists with the group "No More Deaths" were convicted on an assortment of charges related to entering a wildlife refuge to leave water and food for undocumented immigrants. The four women were arrested by a US Fish and Wildlife officer in August 2017 after they'd left the supplies in the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Arizona; it's among the deadliest stretches of desert on the US-Mexico border. They face a maximum penalty of six months in federal prison and fines of $500 each for their acts of premeditated lifesaving, the Arizona Republic reports.


US Magistrate Judge Bernardo Velasco found Natalie Hoffman, Oona Holcomb, Madeline Huse, and Zaachila Orozco-McCormick guilty on several charges in the bench trial.

Hoffman had been charged with operating a vehicle inside the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Arizona, entering without a permit, and leaving behind 1-gallon water jugs and cans of beans [...]

The court found her three co-defendants, all passengers in the truck Hoffman was driving inside the refuge, guilty of entering the area without a permit and abandoning personal property.

Judge Velasco also had harsh words for No More Deaths for its failure to adequately warn the volunteers that they could face serious federal penalties for trying to save lives by trespassing in a federal wildlife refuge.

"The Defendants did not get an access permit, they did not remain on the designated roads, and they left water, food, and crates in the Refuge. All of this, in addition to violating the law, erodes the national decision to maintain the Refuge in its pristine nature," Velasco wrote in his three-page order posted online Friday afternoon. [...]

"No one in charge of No More Deaths ever informed them that their conduct could be prosecuted as a criminal offense nor did any of the Defendants make any independent inquiry into the legality or consequences of their activities," he wrote in his decision.

"The Court can only speculate as to what the Defendants' decisions would have been had they known the actual risk of their undertaking," he added.

Obviously, the four should have staged an armed dildo militia takeover of the wildlife refuge if they'd wanted to avoid conviction. Leaving water and beans bad; trashing buildings, tearing up fences and shitting all over Native American artifacts no big deal.

A spokesperson for No More Deaths said the prosecutions were nakedly political, if you can believe that:

"This verdict challenges not only No More Deaths volunteers, but people of conscience throughout the country," she said. "If giving water to someone dying of thirst is illegal, what humanity is left in the law of this country?"

OK, but that completely missed the point. This was all about sending the message that America's pristine natural lands must be protected, at least until we can build WALL across them.

The women had argued in their defense that they'd been motivated by their religious convictions.

Orozco McCormick said she considered the work almost "sacred," and described being on the refuge as "like being a graveyard," because of the number of migrant deaths that had taken place there.

Again, let's not be ridiculous, since everyone knows religious exemptions to the law are only allowed when you want to prevent sluts from having access to slut pills or abortion or wedding cakes. Defense attorneys also said No More Deaths had been singled out for selective enforcement, and given a false assurance they wouldn't be targeted:

That included special instructions for all wildlife officers to refer any member of the organization seeking a permit to the refuge manager, and a "do not issue" list which contained the names of certain volunteers who were not allowed to get a permit.

Lawyers for the four women also cited a July 2017 meeting among members of No More Deaths, wildlife officials and an assistant U.S. attorney, at which the attorney had allegedly said that they were not interested in prosecuting volunteers for dropping off water and food.

Prosecutors dismissed those arguments countering that no written or oral agreement between the U.S. Attorney's Office to not prosecute these cases existed.

As for preserving the pristine desert, the defense also pointed out Border Patrol regularly drives through the very same areas of the refuge where the volunteers were picked up. Well yeah, but they have to keep us safe from MS-13 and all those radical Muslim prayer-rug droppers.

Prosecutors argued that emergency locator beacons left by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are the "preferred way to save lives," and that leaving caches of water and supplies simply gave "false hope" to migrants that they might cross the desert without getting nabbed. The defense pointed out the beacons, unlike water, don't provide much relief for dehydration. The trial didn't touch on No More Deaths' contention that more lives are endangered by the Border Patrol's destruction of water caches.

The convictions send an important message to LAWBREAKERS everywhere, as liberal screenwriter and all around troublemaker Robert Schooley points out:

The law is the law, no exceptions, unless maybe you lied just a little to the FBI but had to because the Deep State is out of control.

Five more members of No More Deaths face trial on charges in similar incidents, including Scott Warren, who was also charged with a felony for "smuggling aliens" after the group posted video of Border Patrol officers dumping water into the desert like very big tough cops. The government insists it's merely enforcing the law equally and wouldn't dream of cracking down on one group that happened to make CBP look bad.

Court records say Warren met with two Mexican natives at a building known as "the Barn," in the town of Ajo, Ariz., near the Cabeza Prieta refuge, and gave them food and water.

Warren's attorney, Bill Walker, told the Arizona Republic last year that his client's intention was to give food and medical care, not to smuggle migrants into the country.

Well, sure, but if you do anything to keep migrants alive, you are a de facto smuggler. That's just logic in this Worst Of All Timelines.

[Arizona Republic / WaPo]

Yr Wonkette is supported by reader donations. Please send us money to help us guide you through the modern information desert.

How often would you like to donate?

Select an amount (USD)

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

$
Donate with CC

Cripes the News has been awful lately! And so Yr Editrix suggested we find some good, positive news. Especially after we pitched writing a Wonket about this Mother Jones story on how global warming may be killing the whales, even though Donald Trump knows their prince. (Reply: "Nope. FOR SURE NOT THAT.") And so, as a reminder that a gooder world is possible and apropos of nothing at all that definitely didn't set your Editrix off on Twitter, where she has been stewing and bitching most shrillfully about the 2016 election and the 2020 election and any terrible similarities thereof and thereupon and therefore and thereto, we present a collection of videos of Elizabeth Warren yelling at big banks and calling for them to be broken up and their criminal operators to go to jail. Puppies and kittens will only get you so far, after all.

Keep reading... Show less
$
Donate with CC

Spinal Tap - Gimme Some Money

Some dick is suing your Wonkette! If you are able, will you please send money?

1. Pick "just once" or "monthly."

2. Pick an amount, like say "all of the money."

3. Click "paypal" if you are paypal or "stripe" if you are not paypal.

4. MONEY.

5. Carry on with your day, and with new posts below!

How often would you like to donate?

Select an amount (USD)

$
Donate with CC
Donate

How often would you like to donate?

Select an amount (USD)

Newsletter

©2018 by Commie Girl Industries, Inc