How One Woman Stood Up To Border Patrol When They Boarded Her Greyhound Bus
She was loud and made sure everyone knew that what was happening was illegal.
© Annie Spratt on Unsplash
We hear the word “ally” thrown around a lot, but what does it really mean to be an ally in a time when people are actually turning in their neighbors, delivery people, and parents dropping their kids off at school? When Tiana Smalls boarded a Greyhound bus in Bakersfield, California, headed to Las Vegas, she found herself in a situation that is reminiscent of Nazi Germany. She recounts her experience in a Facebook post that has now gone viral.
Ok. Storytime: this is kinda long but PLEASE READ. It’s about my experience last night with these fucking border patrol agents.
Last night, I rode the greyhound bus from Bakersfield to Las Vegas to visit family.
When we got to the California/Nevada state line, as always, there’s a checkpoint.
(This checkpoint USED to be one where they made sure you weren’t carrying fruits into California, bc of an invasive fruit fly species).
The bus driver makes an announcement: “We are being boarded by Border Patrol. Please be prepared to show your documentation upon request”.
WAIT. WHAT THE FUCK?
This is when Tiana decided to act when she could have just minded her business and continued her trip. But, no, what happened next is so bold and brave:
So you know I’m ready to act an ASS.
I stand up and say LOUDLY: THIS IS A VIOLATION OF YOUR 4TH AMENDMENT RIGHTS. YOU DON’T HAVE TO SHOW THEM *SHIT*!!! This is illegal. We are not within 100 miles of an international border so that have NO authority to ask you for ANYTHING. TELL THEM TO FUCK OFF!
Realizing that the people most likely to be targeted by Border Patrol officers are Latinos, Smalls got on Google Translate so she could read her message in Spanish to make sure everyone knew what their rights were. She even went as far as reassuring the terrified woman next to her knew she wouldn’t let anything happen to her.
And, Since my Spanish sucks, I Google translated how to say that in Spanish and repeated myself:
Esto es una violación de los derechos de su cuarta enmienda. ¡No tienes que mostrarles nada! Esto es ilegal No cumples, y no tengas miedo. Están equivocados, y no dejaremos pasar esto.
The lady next to me did not speak English. She looked terrified. I reassured her that I had her back.
When Border Patrol boarded the bus, Smalls was loud, stood her ground, and made sure the agents, the driver, and everyone on the bus knew that what they were doing was illegal.
The agents get on. Proceed to announce that they are about to start asking for “documentation” from people.
I Stand up and yell “I’m not showing you shit! I’m not driving this bus, so you have NO RIGHT to ask me for anything! And the rest of you guys don’t have to show them anything, either! This is harassment and racial profiling! Don’t show them a gotdamn thing! We are not within 100 miles of a border so they have NO LEGAL RIGHT or jurisdiction here! GOOGLE IT!”
The agents start to look exasperated, because they can see I’m willing to act a WHOLE DONKEY. One of them said “Fine. We can see that you’re a citizen because of your filthy mouth.” And then they just said “go ahead” to the bus driver and got off.
Small’s “filthy mouth” saved numerous lives. She stuck up for what was right and for those who were most vulnerable. And she reminds everyone that injustice exists because of fear and silence and that using your voice to defend those in danger is the only way to combat the racism and blatant xenophobia sweeping the United States.
Point is: These border patrol officers act like they do because they EXPECT people to be afraid of them and just comply. The lady next to me spoke NO ENGLISH, but she was a very kind woman. She looked TERRIFIED when they boarded. I felt it was my duty to defend her. We DO NOT LIVE in Nazi Germany. No one should be asked to present “papers” for interstate travel. I defended her, and I defended myself. We DO NOT HAVE to just take this shit LYING down. What those officers did is WRONG and completely illegal. All it took was ONE LOUD ass Black woman to let them know WE ARE NOT WITH THE SHITS. FUCK Y’ALL. And they backed off.
Use your voice. Take a risk. Act an ASS. Because if you let them intimidate the poor Spanish[-]speaking woman next to you, who do you think they’re coming for next?
#ftpd #greyhound #useyourvoice
But what I really want to know is why Greyhound is allowing paying customers to be arrested simply for existing?
This article was originally published by Hip Latina. It was edited for YES! Magazine.