Thursday, March 05, 2009


I would hope so.
A British Columbian man has learned the hard way that you don't ask a U.S. border guard to be polite when he asks you to turn off your vehicle's engine.

Desiderio Fortunato, of Coquitlam, B.C., asked the guard to say please and instead received a face full of pepper spray.

“I just said please,” Mr. Fortunato explained Thursday. “He said 'get out of the car or I spray you' and ... I thought he was just trying to scare me off or something and I was pepper sprayed from a foot or two away.”
I have to say that in many years of crossing the border, my experienced with U.S. border guards has been consistently good. This is more emblematic, I think, of how the use of devices like TASERS and pepper spray have become perceived by many law enforcement officers as acceptable means of obtaining compliance with their orders, or possibly enforcing their authoritah, even when there is no risk posed to anybody's safety, life or property.


  1. Meh, my experience with US border guards was that they started hiring a lot of assholes around the early 1990s.

  2. Crossing by car or by plane?

    I recall that our old friend bap was working the U.S.-Canada border for a while, so obviously the standards for hiring have been pretty low at times.

  3. Car. The bridge much more so than the tunnel.

  4. Two comments:

    1) EIA - The time for sorting out right from wrong (and it sounds like the guard is going to face and lose a "use of force" review) and standing up for your rights is after they stop pointing the weapon at you. (Mr. Fortunato should probably be advised that, even if he thinks the officer is over reacting, the time to jam your hands in your pockets is NOT right after the officer points a gun at your and yells, "Hands, show me your hands."

    2) Although it does not excuse the guards behavior, I'm inclined to think that Mr. Fortunato is probably downplaying his role in the confrontation.


  5. I'm inclined to think that Mr. Fortunato is probably downplaying his role in the confrontation.

    God help us all if he's not!


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