According to a letter sent to San Saba city and county officials, a twenty-year tradition of camping at Barefoot Fish Camp in San Saba County has come to an end.
Reed Watson sent a letter describing how his group, which averages about 100 campers each year, was allegedly harassed and had their civil liberties violated by San Saba County Sheriff Allen Brown.
Sheriff Brown stated that Jackie and Charlene Brister, owners of Barefoot Fish Camp, called him out to the campground to help ensure that fires were not left unattended.
Watson agreed that it was a good thing for the sheriff to make the rounds and make sure fires were taken care of properly; especially because of the high winds.
Watson did not agree, however, with how Sheriff Brown allegedly treated some of the campers at the campground. In his letter, Watson cites instances of profiling, threatening with bodily harm, unwarranted threats of search and seizure, and more.
Sheriff Brown states that he was just doing his job and that people are not used to his proactive, rather than reactive, style. He said that, "the community knew [my style] when they elected me. They knew what they were getting." Sheriff Brown stated that he has concentrated on educating the community, starting in the schools, on how to prevent crime.
Sheriff Brown said over the course of the weekend and during his patrols of the campground, drug paraphernalia was found and citations issued.
Watson, who started the camping tradition 31 years ago as a way to keep up with friends, said that his ‘Rites of Spring’ group has been coming to San Saba for about 20 years and had never experienced anything like what happened the weekend of March 18-19. Watson sent his complaints against Sheriff Brown to the Attorney General, as well as preparing a list of 30 individuals who would offer testimony similar to Mr. Watson’s. (A representative from the Attorney General’s office stated that they could neither deny nor confirm that a complaint had been filed.)
Sheriff Brown said that he is not worried about any investigation into his practices. He believes that he has done his job, and says that, in law enforcement, you can expect to upset people when you do.