Woman says Montana Border Patrol agents assaulted her: ‘They said they have more power than police’
A Canadian woman has come forward with her account of what she described as an assault at the hands of three US Customs and Border Protection agents in Montana.
“I got scared. I got really scared. I said,’ Can you please call the police?'” 51-year-old Mary Ann Gill told Kelowna Now. “They said, ‘No, we’re not going to call the police.’ They said that they have more power than the police, and the police have no jurisdiction now, and whatever they say goes.”
Gill said she was traveling with a friend on May 14 when she was first questioned at a border crossing in Roseville, Montana. The first agent she encountered described her destination — Elmo, Montana — as “Indian country” and then told her to enter secondary inspection, while her friend was told to “get to the road.”
After going to secondary inspection — inside what she called a “garage-type” building — Gill said her motorcycle was searched by three agents, each of whom refused to give their name. One of them allegedly described her interim drivers’ license as “suspicious,” and then ordered her to undergo a strip search.
“They took my clothes off, and did an internal cavity search of my body,” Gill said. “And it was awful. It was really bad, and I just can’t understand.”
After finding nothing illegal, the agents allegedly told her to leave the facility. Her friend, who was also on a motorcycle, was two blocks away and “could actually hear [Gill] screaming.” They abandoned their plan to go to Elmo and instead returned to Canada the next day. Gill was subsequently pulled over by a Canadian police officer for speeding, while her friend was told to go on ahead as he was citing her.
“When he said that she could go and I had to stay it made me so freaked out,” Gill recalled. “I got so scared again and I just lost it.”
The incident has attracted attention from a conservative member of the Canadian Parliament, Dan Albas, who represents the Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola electoral district.
“At least on the Canadian side, border officials are given tremendous amounts of latitude and tools to deal with legitimate threats, however, with those come massive responsibilities and a lot of oversight,” he told Kelowna Now. “It’s when you have an officer who’s using these powers and tools inappropriately, which to me, listening to her firsthand account, it raises some very worrying concerns.”
A US Customs spokesperson said that the agency is investigating the incident following Kelowna Now‘s reporting. However, Gill said she attempted to file her own complaint at the agency’s website three times, only to see it deleted.
“The part that makes me feel worthless and dirty and crappy is the fact that these people have such incredible power to make a female disrobe and that they can enter their body,” she said of her experience. “It felt everything but legitimately OK.”
[h/t The Free Thought Project]