Thursday, April 01, 2010

Slain Arizona rancher mourned by friends, neighbors

One by one, southeastern Arizona ranchers took the microphone to mourn the loss of a friend and to castigate the U.S. government for failing to protect a fellow cattleman from border violence. For at least a decade, they said, politicians have vowed to secure America's borders and win the war on drugs. But none of the rhetoric prevented a gunman from shooting 58-year-old Robert Krentz while he was working on his legacy ranch. Four days after Krentz's murder, friends and neighbors vented their anger, fear and frustration Wednesday during a gathering called by the Arizona Cattle Growers' Association that included U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and Border Patrol officials. The friends and neighbors decried political inaction, called for a National Guard buildup on the border and demanded that law-enforcement agents be given permission to use deadly force on immigrants and smugglers who attempt to escape. "Seal the border," said Don Kimble, a local rancher who moderated the discussion as a wind blustered outside a one-room schoolhouse. "Put the military on the border. If we can stop those people on the border, there won't be somebody coming 15 miles up here and shooting Rob Krentz." "Millions of people have quietly infiltrated this country," added Kelly Glenn, another rancher near the Arizona-New Mexico line. "Every border community has begged for help. . . . Our politicians need to not let Rob's death be in vain." One of the speakers, Louis Pope Jr., read a statement from the Krentz family condemning the murder and demanding action. "We hold no malice toward the Mexican people for this senseless act," he said, adding that relatives believe American politicians and Mexican leaders are accountable for failing to stop illegal immigration and smuggling. "We have paid the ultimate price for their negligence in credibly securing our border."...more

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