One wonders how long it will be before we start reading stories about people getting arrested merely for coming within eyesight or snapping photos at the entrance gate at one of these off-limits public lands the Administration of President Barack Obama is punitively closing down during the phony Federal government shutdown.
A Massachusetts newspaper reported Tuesday on the “Gestapo” treatment locals received at the hands of Federal officers on a vacation trip out to Yellowstone National Park. Unlike earlier reports from the National Mall in Washington, D.C., where veterans seemed able to exercise their collective will to thwart Park Service officials who were “guarding” barricaded monuments, these people were actually rounded up and held at gunpoint in a Yellowstone park hotel.
“Pat Vaillancourt went on a trip last week that was intended to showcase some of America’s greatest treasures,” John Macone of the Merrimack Valley-area Eagle-Tribune newspaper wrote Tuesday. “Instead, the Salisbury resident said she and others on her tour bus witnessed an ugly spectacle that made her embarrassed, angry and heartbroken for her country.”
From the Eagle-Tribune report:
Vaillancourt was one of thousands of people who found themselves in a national park as the federal government shutdown went into effect on Oct. 1. For many hours her tour group, which included senior citizen visitors from Japan, Australia, Canada and the United States, were locked in a Yellowstone National Park hotel under armed guard.
The tourists were treated harshly by armed park employees, she said, so much so that some of the foreign tourists with limited English skills thought they were under arrest.
Well, practically speaking, weren’t they?
Even before the roundup and detainment, Vaillancourt said Yellowstone park rangers showed clear signs that they’d been authorized to act swiftly in response to the Federal government shutdown. In the two days she was able to move about inside the park, a ranger accused senior citizens in her bus tour group of “recreating” for piling out of a bus to snap photos of bison.
Almost immediately, an armed ranger came by and ordered them to get back in, saying they couldn’t “recreate.” The tour guide, who had paid a $300 fee the day before to bring the group into the park, argued that the seniors weren’t “recreating,” just taking photos.
“She responded and said, ‘Sir, you are recreating,’ and her tone became very aggressive,” Vaillancourt said.
… “Some of the Asians who were on the tour said, ‘Oh my God, are we under arrest?’ They felt like they were criminals.”
Gordon Hodgson, the tour guide, later said the Park Service had employed “Gestapo tactics” against civilians, both American and foreign, who left the incident with a dark view that the American notion of individual liberty is quickly unraveling.