Comment by: Louise Ford ( )
Left at: 6:19 AM Tuesday, November 15, 2011
1000 Islands 2011 ...Homeland Security 10 years after 9/11
This Morning Tuesday Aug 30 2011 at 6 AM my barely conscious mind heard a boat going by my bedroom window. Still not at all awake I then hear a second boat making an odd engine sound and then a blasting siren ! What on earth !?! I jumped up and saw the twin engine, orange US Coast Guard boat doing a sharp U-Turn (causing the unusual engine sound in my still dreaming head) with its lights flashing and siren blaring going after a boat, that from the vantage point of my bed, I could only see the wake of boat being chased.
I dashed out of the house and right down to the end of my point in my night gown. Not one to miss something that must have been big to cause all that commotion in this normally at 6 AM sleepy part of the river !! The sun was not yet up but there was plenty of light. The coast guard had pulled over what looked to me to be an average fisherman in a dark, low bass boat. I couldn’t see his numbers to identify US or Canadian. As they drifted down the channel I watched as the man handed one thing and then another to them. Boat registration, drivers license, flares, paddles, life jackets... we all know the drill. Then after about 15 min the fisherman went on his probably not so merry way and the US Coast Guard came back by my house yet again did a big swooping U turn in 40 acres (Canadian Waters by the way) and then headed towards Clayton. The sun rise was beautiful.
None of this is all that remarkable if we had not had the boarder war that we, as honest law abiding residents having been living with increasingly each summer since 9/11. This is not really a war between the USA and Canada as previous ones have been but this time it is the USA and Canada against the average citizen. Many of us life long residents on this border and people perhaps like this mornings fisherman just trying to enjoy this beautiful river feeling like we are under siege by all kinds of law enforcement.
I know that this has been a topic of conversation which has caused us all stress and worry all summer long. Most people I talk to feel as I do that we don’t under stand it. There seems to be no regard for the fact that we LIVE here. And yes it is a border but it is not East and West Germany or anything close to the situation on the Mexican border but it would be hard to tell sometimes.
Those of us who have grown up here have, up until recently, traveled between the islands with little or no thought to where the actual meandering border even is. Half of ones friends live on one side and the other half on the other... who cares ? We are all residents of the islands and to that end should have some sort of special pass as residents that would allow us access, not to the mainland but between the islands.
Also I don’t understand what on earth these patrol boats think they are looking for? The only thing I see traveling from my point back and forth to Leek Island in Canada every day are large numbers of deer !! Tick smugglers no doubt !
Sitting on my point this summer I have taken note of all the US And Canadian patrols. The Canadians run this Canadian Middle channel at least twice a day but many days there are 4 or 5 patrols. I will see the large steel hulled Cat Canadian Coast Guard, the small hard bottomed orange rubber boat, A white cutty cabin outboard that says POLICE on the side and a smaller white POLICE boat go by in one day.
The Americans patrol in various boats as well usually only once a day by here but more on weekends or even today I have had three patrols so far going by including my 6 AM wake up call ! US Coast Guard, Park Police, NY State Troopers, various boats, orange, grey, white and last but not least the US Jet Ski Patrol ! Since sitting down to write this the Grey US Customs boat has gone by twice in either direction after checking on Potters Beach. This does not include the drones, large listening airplanes, army helicopters and fighter jets that fly over regularly.
On top of all that there is one boat that I ran next to the other day on my jet ski. Knowing I was in full compliance with all laws I got up close to her to see if I could figure out who or what or where the men on board where from. The boat is black. 3 black engines on the stern, 6 standing stations 3 + 3 behind a center console. The occupants are wearing black. What looked like black flack jackets on all of them but probably were life jackets (you would think). NO country identification but on the side of the black boat in dark grey ... barely visible except that I was right next to them it said POLICE. I could not figure out what government they worked for !
My final point here is that you can’t even go fishing or live with out stress of maybe “they” are lurking and you will be stopped for no good reason ! 10 years after 9/11 our governments, with much encouragement from us citizens, have tried to SEAL our borders. In doing so we have created a police state in one of the most beautiful vacations spots in the world. Our government is broke. This seems to be to be an enormous waste of our tax dollars patrolling the 1000 Islands.
One solution is that Island Residents be given a card that goes one step further then the current Nexus cards. Perhaps a sticker for our boats so that they can see that and not bother us ! It would be a pass to travel between the islands - if we have to make a cell phone call ok but better yet let, at least those of us who have always had free access to the entire river - have it. And if someone is out in their bass boat at 6 AM before the sun comes up the authorities need a good reason to pull them over. We have civil rights that are being stepped on rather hard right now. If we allow our own freedom to be strangled out of fear of what really is a possible threat then the terrorists have won !
There are no armed army’s crossing this border. The ODD smuggling attempt in the Detroit River or the real problems at the Akwesasne Nation 80 miles down river from Alexandria Bay should not cause a police state to exist here. This is summer resort area of the 1000 islands couldn’t be culturally more different then the situation in Cornwall.
Today alone there have been 4 trips past here by the US Coast Guard. Perhaps it is an increase in security leading up to 9/11 but honestly I just think it is a ramping up that has been creeping up on us here and that most may not even be aware of.
I am sure most people on the river this summer have had their own stories. I have many more then I have finger strength to type. Maybe it is time we all wrote to our elected officials on both sides of the border. Groups like Save the River and TIARA could work on this cause as well. The entire character of this unusual area will be lost if we just let this police state grow. I know that living right on the border I see more then most who are tucked away on one side of the line or the other. I assume when I swim more then 20 ft off my point into Canadian waters I should check in !! Really ?
If you have a comment or a story of your own please post it below. I am sure there are many more stories like this out there... We need an OPEN border in the 1000 Islands!