(Host) Many residents in the Canadian border town of Derby Line are rallying behind a village trustee wrangling with the US Border patrol. Roland "Buzzy" Roy has become a symbol of what some say is an increasingly heavy-handed approach to border protection.
The Patrol Agent in charge got an earful at last night’s Village Trustee meeting.
VPR’s Charlotte Albright was there.
(Albright) Near the prescription counter at his pharmacy, Buzzy Roy still gets a little riledup talking about what happened to him onFebruary 6.
As he has for many years, he strolled down Main Street, crossed the Canadian border, reported at the checkpoint, bought a pizza, walked back home on adjacent Church Street and ambled toward the US checkpoint only two blocks away. A Vermont State trooper followed him, blue lights flashing. The trooper, Roy says, was "very aggressive."
(Roy) "I did feel threatened, he was very loudand he had his finger about one inch from my nose."
(Albright) Although border agents say those un-gated streets are now closed to cross borderpedestrians, Roy thinks they should be legal routes to the checkpoint.
To prove his point late that February night, he took that same stroll again-twice. Round three–a border patrol officer arrested him, handcuffed him, and drove him to Newport, where he was detained for three hours. He’s hired a lawyer to challenge his $500 fine.
(Roy) "I would like to prove that people can cross the border on Church Street as they have for hundreds of years."
(Albright) Supporters are wearing 750 "FreeBuzzy Roy" buttons and offering cash-which Roy is politely refusing-for his legal expenses.
You could see plenty of those buttons at lastnight’s Village Trustees meeting. And while Trustee Roy kept mum about his case, plenty of other villagers told the agent in charge, Fernando Beltran, that they’re fed up with too many cops harassing law-abiding citizens.
Dennis Kelley compared it to living in a police state, where the police are bad drivers.
(Kelley) "You go down the road on the wrong side of the road, you drive down the road at night with no lights on, the list is endless-who’s gonna watch you guys?"
(Albright) Border Patrol agent Beltran askedvillagers to report such problems to him. But he defended the extra help from state troopers, sheriffs, and even game wardens, collecting overtime under a new collaboration called "Operation Stone Garden."
(Beltran) "We’re having very good success because these guys are here, my guys can be some place else."
(Albright) Beltran said DHS policy preventsgiving the villagers statistics about the number of illegal immigrants nabbed in Derby Line. Several of the fifteen who attended say they plan to hold ademonstration on March 27.
For VPR News, I’m Charlotte Albright, in Derby Line.