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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Snowbowl Resistance: Police Brutality on the Peaks.





All hands on deck, Phoenix...




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by Neddy Ned Ned on
Sunday, June 19, 2011 at 5:14pm

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Sunday June 19, 2011

Contact: Beth Lavely

Tel: 928.254.1064

protectpeaks@gmail.com

Protest Halts Snowbowl Waste water Pipeline Construction

End Destruction and Desecration of Holy San Francisco Peaks

Flagstaff, AZ – At sunrise on Thursday, June 16, 2011, more than a dozen people stopped ski area construction on the Holy San Francisco Peaks. Six individuals used various devices to lock themselves to heavy machinery and to each other inside the waste water pipeline trench.

Kristopher Barney, Dine’ (Navajo) & one of the six who locked himself to an excavator stated, “This is a continuation of years of prayers and resistance. It is our hope that all Indigenous Peoples, and all others, throughout the North, East, South and West come together to offer support to the San Francisco Peaks and help put a stop to Snowbowl's plan to further destroy and desecrate such a sacred, beautiful and pristine mountain!”

“What part of sacred don’t they understand? Through our actions today, we say enough! The destruction and desecration has to end!” said Marlena Teresa Garcia, 16, a young Diné woman and one of the six who chose to lock down. “The Holy San Francisco Peaks is home, tradition, culture, and a sanctuary to me, and all this is being desecrated by the Arizona Snowbowl Ski Resort. So now I, as a young Diné woman, stand by Dook’o’osliid’s side taking action to stop cultural genocide. I encourage all indigenous youth to stand against the desecration that is happening on the Holy San Francisco Peaks and all other sacred sites”, said Garcia after being arrested and released.

A banner was hung on the side of the trench that read “Defend the Sacred!” where two protesters were locked together. Over the half mile of open construction, the group chanted, “Protect Sacred Sites, Defend Human Rights!”, “No desecration for recreation!” “Stop the cultural genocide! Protect the Peaks!”, and “Human health over corporate wealth”.

“This waste water pipeline will poison the environment and to children who may eat snow made from it. Snowbowl plans to spray millions of gallons of waste water snow, which is filled with cancer causing and other harmful contaminants, as well as clear-cut over 30,000 trees. The Peaks are a pristine and beautiful place, a fragile ecosystem, and home to rare and endangered species of plants and animals,” said Evan Hawbaker, one of the protesters who locked themselves to the excavator.

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Forest Service, the City of Flagstaff Mayor and Council, and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality are all responsible for permitting Snowbowl to endanger public health, destroy the environment, and desecrate the Holy Peaks,” said Nadia del Callejo, one of the protesters who locked themselves in the trench.


“Throughout history, acts of resistance and civil disobedience have been taken by young and old against injustices such as this. This action is not isolated but part of a continued resistance to human rights violations, to colonialism, to corporate greed, and destruction of Mother Earth,” added Del Callejo.

A separate group of supporters, some wearing hazmat suits, “quarantined” the entrance to Snowbowl Road. Banners were stretched across the road that read “Protect Sacred Sites” and “Danger! Health Hazard - Snowbowl”.

Shortly after initiating the action, a Snowbowl security guard spotted two people locked to an excavator. By 6:00 a.m. more than 15 armed agents, including the Coconino County Sheriff’s Department, City of Flagstaff Police, & the FBI stormed the mountain.

At approximately 7:30 a.m., the Flagstaff Fire Department, assisted by County Sheriffs, started aggressively cutting two people from the excavator.

“We took every possible measure to ensure our safety. Our actions were taken to safeguard Indigenous Peoples’ cultural survival, our community’s health and this sensitive mountain ecosystem. Those who cut us out endangered our well being ignoring the screams to stop. They treated our bodies the way they’re treating this holy mountain. If they had their way, we wouldn’t even exist. There is more danger in doing nothing. To idly stand by and allow this destruction and desecration is to allow cultural genocide”, said the other young Dine’ woman who chose to lock down.

“The police's use of excessive force was in complete disregard for my safety. They pulled at my arms and forced my body and head further into the machine, all the while using heavy duty power saws within inches of my hand,” said Evan Hawbaker.

After being cut out, the two were treated by paramedics and arrested for trespassing. The police, firefighters, and paramedics then proceeded to cut two people locked in a nearby trench.

Extraction took about forty minutes and the two were immediately seen by paramedics after being unlocked. One of the individuals sustained injuries to their arm from abusive force. Both were charged with trespassing, with an added charge of “contributing to the delinquency of a minor”, for one of the individuals. Police proceeded to unlock the last group who was also inside the trench nearby.

"Our only offense was resistance; resistance of the implications that's Snowbowl's development exudes. The police's defense was to implement tactics of fear to reach a goal, essentially to continue construction as soon as possible. Our safety was prioritized second to Snowbowl's demands. I was one of the demonstrators in the trench, locked at the neck with a partner. I was not aggressive. My lock was sawed through, inches away from both of our heads, secured solely and recklessly by the hands of a deputy. During the process, we were repeatedly asked to chant to reaffirm our consciousness. The police's response was hasty, taking about ten minutes in total--it was dehumanizing," said Hailey Sherwood, one of the last protester to be cut out.

Both women were also seen by paramedics. One was sent to the hospital for heat exhaustion although she denied feeling dehydrated. She started to faint during the extraction when police, EMTs, and firefighters attempted to force the pair to stand and move them from their location. Both women repeatedly expressed that they were being hurt and choked by law enforcement officers and firefighters. Both of the protesters were arrested for trespassing, with additional charges to one of them for “contributing to the delinquency of a minor” and “endangerment”.

Four of the protesters were taken to County Jail. The two young people were taken to Coconino County Juvenile Detention Center. FBI agents attempted to question four of those arrested.

As word spread about the demonstration to protect the Peaks, overwhelming support and solidarity poured in from throughout the community and internationally.

Bail was raised shortly after the arrests. All demonstrators were released by 3:30 p.m. Three of the protesters, including Marlena Teresa Garcia, immediately filed a report for excessive use of force after being released.

“How can we be trespassers on our Holy Site?” questioned Barney. “I do not agree with these and the other charges, we will continue our resistance.”

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For more information and pictures, please visit the following websites:

www.indigenousaction.org/

www.http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/

Original action statement after the photos.



*PROTECT THE PEAKS – STOP DESTRUCTION AND DESECRATION NOW!*

Today we take direct action to stop further desecration and destruction of the Holy San Francisco Peaks. We stand with our ancestors, with allies and with those who also choose to embrace diverse tactics to safeguard Indigenous People’s cultural survival, our community’s health, and this sensitive mountain ecosystem.

On May 25th 2011, sanctioned by the US Forest Service, owners of Arizona Snowbowl began further destruction and desecration of the Holy San Francisco Peaks. Snowbowl’s hired work crews have laid over a mile and a half of the planned 14.8 mile wastewater pipeline. They have cut a six foot wide and six foot deep gash into the Holy Mountain.

Although a current legal battle is under appeal, Snowbowl owners have chosen to undermine judicial process by rushing to construct the pipeline. Not only do they disregard culture, environment, and our children’s health, they have proven that they are criminals beyond reproach.

Four weeks of desecration has already occurred. Too much has already been taken. Today, tomorrow and for a healthy future, we say “enough!”

As we take action, we look to the East and see Bear Butte facing desecration, Mt. Taylor facing further uranium mining; to the South, Mt.

Graham desecrated, South Mountain threatened, the US/Mexico border severing Indigenous communities from sacred places; to the West, inspiring resistance at Sogorea Te, Moana Keya facing desecration; to the North, Mt. Tenabo, Grand Canyon, Black Mesa, and so many more… our homelands and our culture under assault.

We thought that the USDA, heads of the Forest Service, had meant it when they initiated nationwide listening sessions to protect sacred places. If the process was meaningful, we would not have to take action today.

More than 13 Indigenous Nations hold the Peaks Holy. The question has been asked yet we hear no response, “what part of sacred don’t you understand?”

For hundreds of years resistance to colonialism, slavery, and destruction of Mother Earth has existed and continues here in what we now call Arizona.

The United States recently moved to join the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, evidently the US has not currently observed and acted upon this declaration, otherwise we would not be taking action today. This document informs our action, we also assert that UNDRIP supports the basis for our action.

Article 11, 1: Indigenous peoples have the right to practice and revitalize their cultural traditions and customs. This includes the right to maintain, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures, such as archaeological and historical sites, artifacts, designs, ceremonies, technologies and visual and performing arts and literature.

“Article 11, 2: States shall provide redress through effective mechanisms, which may include restitution, developed in conjunction with indigenous peoples, with respect to their cultural, intellectual, religious and spiritual property taken without their free, prior and informed consent or in violation of their laws, traditions and customs.”

“Article 12, 1: Indigenous peoples have the right to manifest, practice, develop and teach their spiritual and religious traditions, customs and ceremonies; the right to maintain, protect, and have access in privacy to their religious and cultural sites; the right to the use and control of their ceremonial objects; and the right to the repatriation of their human remains.”

“Article 25: Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinctive spiritual relationship with their traditionally owned or otherwise occupied and used lands, territories, waters and coastal seas and other resources and to uphold their responsibilities to future generations in this regard."

For nearly 4 decades, resistance to desecration and destruction of the Peaks has been sustained. Prayer vigils, petitions, lobbying, protests, and many diverse tactics have been embraced. Historic court battles have been fought.

We continue today resisting Snowbowl’s plan to spray millions of gallons of wastewater snow, which is filled with cancer causing and other harmful contaminants, as well as clear-cut over 30,000 trees. The Peaks are a pristine and beautiful place, a fragile ecosystem, and home to rare and endangered species of plants and animals.

Our action is a prayer.

We invite those of you who could not join us today and who believe in the protection of culture, the environment and community health to resist destruction and desecration of the Peaks:

- Join us and others in physically stopping all Snowbowl development!

- Honor and defend Indigenous Peoples’ inherent right to protect Sacred Places

- Resist colonialism and capitalism! Embrace diverse tactics to end Snowbowl’s and all corporate greed

- Demand USDA end Snowbowl’s Special Use Permit

- Demand that the City of Flagstaff Mayor and Council find a way out of their contract to sell wastewater to Snowbowl

- Demand that Arizona Department of Environmental Quality change its permission allowing wastewater to be used for snowmaking.

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