Regional News

Former U.S. Border Patrol agent-turned-author draws angry protest in Bay Area

February 21, 2018 11:29 am

POSTED: FEB 20 2018 06:35AM PST


UPDATED: FEB 20 2018 11:37AM PST

SAN FRANCISCO - A former U.S. Border Patrol agent who wrote a memoir about his experience is generating protest and controversy here in the Bay Area and other cities.

Francisco Cantu held a book signing at Green Apple Books on Ninth Avenue in San Francisco’s inner Sunset neighborhood by Golden Gate Park on Monday night and some liberal protestors showed up to voice their anger with his past occupation, rounding up people trying to illegally cross into the country.

Cantu originally planned to publicly discuss his book. Instead, he changed it to a book signing with one-on-one conversations with people because of disruptions by protestors at other venues.
He is in the Bay Area to promote his book, “The Line Becomes the River: Dispatches from the Border.”

Cantu spent four years working as a Border Patrol agent from 2008 to 2012.

Prior to the event in San Francisco, critics had posted this flyer on social media which states, “no platform for border patrol.”

“I appreciate them being here. It’s about having debate,”  Cantu told KTVU before the event. ”I support their right to protest. A lot of concerns were my concerns too. They’re really valid.”

When asked what his book is about, Cantu referred KTVU to his written statement:”It’s about thinking through the ways we normalize violence and dehumanize migrants at an individual, institutional and societal level.”

The author did not want KTVU’S camera inside the bookstore.

About a dozen protestors went inside. They spoke anecdotally about violence committed by border patrol as Cantu listened.

KTVU caught up with protestors as they left, but they declined to speak on camera.

They did say Cantu should not profit from his work as a border patrol agent.

The protestors had wanted the bookstore to cancel the event.

The co-owner of Green Apple Books says every voice should be heard.

“Even if you vehemently disagree with the author appearing here, this is your chance to confront him about it. I admire the fact that he could cancel his tour, but he’s not,” says Kevin Ryan, co-owner of Green Apple Books.

One man at the book signing says he became friends with Cantu after reading his articles about the border. He says he’s also read Cantu’s book.

“He’s direct. He’s honest. He’s witnessed things that people are rightfully upset about,” says Oscar Villalon, Cantu’s friend.

Cantu was supposed to attend another book signing in Oakland  on Tuesday, at East Bay Booksellers at 7 p.m. But Brad Johnson of the bookstore contacted KTVU to say that the author canceled “out of respect for the East Bay community’s vocal opposition” to his appearance.

Johnson said the bookstore has been “crafting a future panel discussion that will be more identifiably reflective of the lives and perspectives…of those for too long denied their proper, safe platform.”