Tohono O’odham Nation gives statement on protester arrests near SR 85 border checkpoint

Tohono O’odham Nation gives statement on protester arrests near SR 85 border checkpoint
(Source: WAVE 3 News)

SELLS, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - On Monday, Oct. 12, 2020, American citizens, including members of the Tohono O’odham Nation were tear gassed by law enforcement near the Border Patrol checkpoint on State Route 85 in southern Arizona after they gathered to protest desecration of sacred land and burial sites.

The incident was captured on video and one image shows four law enforcement officers on a single protester.

The following statement is from Tohono O’odham Nation Chairman Ned Norris:

"The use of tear gas on O’odham and fellow American citizens exercising their sacred constitutional right to protest is utterly appalling, and not something that should be tolerated in our democracy. For years, I and other O’odham leaders have been raising the alarm about the very issues that are at the root of this travesty – the wanton destruction of burial and other sites that are sacred to the Tohono O’odham, and that should be protected by law.

We, the Tohono O’odham, have been on the front lines of border security for generations. We are committed to national security and law enforcement. We have implemented vehicle barriers, Integrated Fixed Towers, and many other measures to protect the U.S. We have spent our own funds to do so. As such, when we say a fortified wall is ineffective, easily bypassed, and a complete waste of taxpayer dollars, we know what we are talking about. This irrational, mad dash to build a wall is destroying our environment, desecrating sacred places, and physically separating our people for no real reason beyond serving as a wildly-expensive campaign prop for the President. THIS MUST END.

Through letters, meetings, and congressional testimony, time and again the Tohono O’odham Nation has raised these concerns. Yet time and again, the Trump Administration has failed to respond, continued to plow ahead, and completely bypassed the legally required consultation and notification processes. The Administration’s reckless disregard for our religious and constitutional rights is embodied in the dynamite and bulldozers now employed all through our original homelands. This is why these individuals feel they have no choice but to take to the streets to protest these destructive activities. This is a travesty that was entirely avoidable.

The Trump Administration must take responsibility for this situation. I call on the Administration to cease the destruction of our sacred sites and engage in meaningful discussions with the Nation on preventing further harm to sacred sites and burial grounds."

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