Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Police used excessive force on San Francisco Peaks defenders

Protest Halts Snowbowl Waste water Pipeline Construction End Destruction
and Desecration of Holy San Francisco Peaks

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News June 19, 2011

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- Navajos and others defending sacred San Francisco
Peaks said police used excessive force on those taking action to defend
the Peaks from the use of sewage water for snowmaking on the mountain.
Native American medicine men conduct ceremonies on the mountain, and
gather herbs for healing ceremonies, on the Peaks, long sacred to 13 area
American Indian Nations.

"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 one of the young woman who locked

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, the six arrested said in a
statement released Sunday, June 19.

Kristopher Barney, Dine’ (Navajo) and 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

“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.

Those arrested decribed the action and excessive police force in their
statement released Sunday:

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, and 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

“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 one of the young woman who locked 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 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 Haley 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

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

“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.”

Press contact for those defending San Francisco Peaks:
Contact: Beth Lavely Tel: 928.254.1064 protectpeaks@gmail.com

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