Monday, June 15, 2015

Texas Border-Militia ‘Camp Rusty’ Calls It Quits: ‘It Wasn’t That Great’

[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]

Back when it was bustling with militiaman volunteers eager to stop immigrants from crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, they called Cuban “Rusty” Monsees’ rural property outside of Brownsville, Texas, “Camp LoneStar.”

But as the sheen faded – and the arrests of participants at the camp mounted – the encampment of “Patriots” began to dwindle to almost nothing, and it gradually came to just be dubbed “Camp Rusty.”

Monsees recently announced that the property is now up for sale. He reflected on the changes with a reporter for KRGV-TV.

“Some of the stuff that was taking place, it wasn’t that great,” Monsees admitted.

The encampment first made news in Texas a year ago by attracting number of armed militiamen from around the rest of the nation to the little spot on the Rio Grande where participants could go rambling on “missions” running reconnaissance on border-crossing activities.

At times, the gun-toting militiamen even detained border crossers they caught – cuffing them with plastic ties and guarding them with weapons until Border Patrol arrived to take them away – while at other times they would chase people swimming over the Rio Grande back across the river.

Then participants began having run-ins with the law. First, a Border Patrol officer took shots at one of the militiamen while pursuing a border-crossing fugitive. Then it emerged that the man who had been shot at, who was carrying a weapon at the time of the incident, was a felon prohibited from possessing firearms. And so, it then emerged, was Kevin C. “K.C.” Massey III, the ostensible “commander” of Camp LoneStar, who was with the militiamen at the time and whose background check revealed a similar felony conviction.

Both men were charged with felony weapons violations and currently await trial in federal court in Texas.

Monsees, a longtime Brownsville-area rancher, explained to reporters at the time that he invited the militiamen to come to his property and set up camp there because he was concerned about “security” on his border ranch. But he told the KRGV reporter that he regretted the whole business now.

“They jeopardized my safety and some other people’s safety by what they were doing,” Monsees said.

He said he had made mistakes about who could participate. “Number one because I misread some of the people,” he said. “I found out that there were people here that I didn’t do far enough of a background check on. That’s a regret that I have.”

Some neighbors told KRGV that they appreciated having the “Patriots” gathered in their vicinity. But other reporters had earlier found a number of neighbors who found their presence intimidating and fear-inducing.

“We don’t know who these people are. They’re carrying high-powered weapons. It makes us feel less safe, not more safe to have them here,” one of them said. “I just hope they leave soon.”

That wish has been granted.