Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

December 4, 2011

Shut Down ALEC! This week in photos

Photos by Shut Down ALEC
Article by Brenda Norrell
Censored News
Photos by Shut Down ALEC
Article by Brenda Norrell

PHOENIX -- (Dec. 2, 2011) Shut Down ALEC! this week in the Phoenix Valley exposed the corporate greed and control of the Arizona legislature by the American Legislative Exchange Council, which met in Scottsdale this week.
Navajo and O'odham took the lead to expose the behind-doors machinations of corporations cutting deals with the Arizona government, including energy companies and private prisons, that exploit the resources and people in Indian country.
The corporate profiteers included Boeing. After its billion dollar boondoggle of spy towers on the Arizona border, Boeing is now asking Tohono O'odham districts to approve new spy towers on their lands. Homeland Security says it will begin the bidding process in Jan. 2012 for the Integrated Fixed Towers surveillance system. However, Boeing announced it was hiring for a technician for the project in Ajo, Ariz., last week.
The corporate profiteers working in collusion with Arizona legislators include Corrections Corporations of America, CCA, targeting migrants and all people of color to fill their prisons for profit in Arizona. Wackenhut G4S also profiteers with a contract to transport detained migrants from the Arizona border.
During a protest of the Salt River Project in Tempe, Ariz., on Friday, Louise Benally of Big Mountain on Black Mesa, Navajo resisting relocation, demanded SRP halt the coal fired power plant near Page, the Navajo Generating Station, on the Navajo Nation and begin the conversion to renewal energy sources. SRP electricity flows to Southwest cities, while many Navajos live without running water and electricity, and suffer from the extensive pollution and environmental destruction. Speaking at the protest, Benally said SRP and Peabody Coal mine are depleting the aquifer and already springs and streams have dried up.
“We have no water in our community," Benally said at the SRP protest. "The wells are drying up, the water wells, the water table is dropping, a lot of pollution is being released into the ground water. There are lands that are cracking open, which has never happened before. Vegetation is being totally poisoned by sulfur dioxide from the blasting."
Before the protest began, Ofelia Rivas, O'odham, welcomed the people to O'odham land and offered a prayer for the land, people and all living things. Rivas said SRP diverted water from O'odham lands in southern Arizona, which was used for irrigating their crops by way of their canals. The result was devastating for the O'odham way of life.
“As Indigenous People we understand that the balance of the land is the balance of our people and any disturbance of that is very devastating, not only to our spiritual health, but to our deep connection to the land and all living things. As Indigenous People we are not separated from our environment. We’re deeply connected to everything in the universe: the land, the mountains, water, air, and all plant and animal life," Rivas said.
During the protest, five people locked down, then were cut away by police and arrested. On Wednesday, O'odham were among those pepper sprayed by police outside the ALEC conference in Scottsdale. O'odham Veteran David Ortega, peacemaker, was hospitalized at the Mayo Clinic with a mild heart attack after being pepper sprayed.
Eight people were arrested at the action at the resort where the ALEC summit took place on November 30. Sixteen were arrested at the action at SRP December 2nd, including 5 who locked down in the building. One more was arrested at the First Friday march also December 2. All have been released as of 2 p.m. on December 3.

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