Flagstaff Police Aggressively Disrupt Protect the Peaks March
Six Arrested at Peaceful Protest
Flagstaff, AZ – August 7th, 2011. More than one hundred people, including families with children and elders, marched through downtown Flagstaff on Sunday in protest of the destruction and desecration of the San Francisco Peaks by Arizona Snowbowl. Demonstrators first gathered at Wheeler Park where they were immediately ordered to leave the public park by the Flagstaff Police Department. As the march wound through downtown Flagstaff demonstrators were met with positive responses and support while dozens of police – many out of uniform — harassed the demonstrators. Police cars drove alongside the marchers. As the protesters passed out flyers and carried banners through Flagstaff’s Southside, police violently disrupted the march, grabbing those who were closest to the street and arresting them. As six marchers were handcuffed, the remaining demonstrators continued to yell demands for an end to the Peaks’ destruction.
“As long as Arizona Snowbowl, the Obama Administration’s Forest Service and the City of Flagstaff continue this ecocide and cultural genocide, we will not stop,” said Klee Benally (Dine’), one of the arrested marchers. “We will pray, march, protest, and take whatever action is necessary to ensure that our basic human rights, dignity and environment are safeguarded. Today’s unjustified force from the Flagstaff Police Department demonstrates that they are not on the side of justice or healthy communities. The Forest Service and City of Flagstaff are on the side of corporate interests that are destroying our communities.”
Since May 25, 2011, the owners of Arizona Snowbowl, with the support of the U.S. Forest Service and the Flagstaff City Council, have laid over five miles of a 14.8 mile wastewater pipeline and have clear-cut over 40 acres of rare alpine forest. A current lawsuit against the Forest Service, focusing on human health impacts of wastewater snowmaking, is still under appeal in the 9th Circuit Court. The individuals at today’s march are separate from the Coalition involved in the lawsuit.
Sunday’s march joins four decades of sustained resistance to desecration of the Holy Peaks. Over the past three weeks since Snowbowl began clear-cutting, dozens of protest camps have been established on the mountain.
“The Week of Action is a culmination of efforts to directly address the lack of political will of the Forest Service and City Council to safeguard the community, public health and cultural rights,” said Nadia Del Callejo who was arrested while simply video taping the incident.
“The same profit driven push that has desecrated the Peaks, is the same sickness that has lead to the militarization of the border and is now trying to desecrate South Mountain, which is sacred to all O’odham.” said Alex Soto (Tohono O‘odham ) who was also arrested, “Sacred sites are under attack, but today we said no. Our solidarity in these struggles is re-establishing our traditional networks of support ”
Demonstrators invite everyone to join them Monday, August 8, 12:30pm at the United States Coconino National Forest Service Office at 1824 S. Thomson St, Wednesday, 12:30pm at High Desert Investment at 504 E Butler Ave and Wednesday, 4:00pm at Flagstaff City Hall.
Protesters vowed to not stop until the desecration of the Peaks stops. “I am not afraid of what will happen to me if I protest, what I am more afraid of is what will happen if I do not stand up for what the Peaks are,” Stated Del Callejo.