August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Friday, February 17, 2012

Roberto Rodriguez 'Crouching while Mexican: TUSD escalates militarization of its meetings'

TUSD escalates militarization of its meetings
By Roberto Rodriguez
Censored News

TUCSON -- A high school student who addressed the school board this Tuesday about the Tucson Unified School District-Mexican American Studies, TUSD-MAS, controversy was reportedly pulled out of his classroom yesterday by security personnel. There is more to the story (and this will be updated soon), but to be sure, him being pulled out of his classroom was a direct result of his participation at the school board meeting.
At the same meeting, the issue of armed guards at TUSD school board meeting was brought up. School board member Adelita Grijalva requested an inquiry into how many armed guards are being deployed at each meeting , at what cost, and how long this will last? There may have been 30 audience members at the meeting Tuesday, along with perhaps 20 TUSD officials, employees and school board members. On Tuesday, 9 armed security personnel were visibly present at the meeting. At the recent White House Summit in Tucson, (which was at least 10 times bigger) with many White House administration officials present, there may have been 6 visible officers present.
However, the real travesty has to do with security coming into a classroom for the student during class time.
Board member Adelita Grijalva has confirmed that 2 TUSD security officers went into the student's classroom at Tucson High School as a direct result of the "crouching incident" at Tuesday's board meeting.
Initially, the student gave a firm critique of the TUSD Governing Board board and the superintendent for dismantling the district's Mexican American Studies Department. One by one, he criticized their conduct, including, not paying attention to speakers during call to the audience.
After the critique, he went back to his aisle chair.At a certain point he decided not to sit, but instead chose to crouch in the aisle next to his chair. For this the security in the board room took an alert position, and approached. He told the student to sit. The student asked why at which point the officer said it was against district policy for anyone to crouch in the aisle. The student asked to see the regulation.
On Thursday, that same TUSD officer, along with another TUSD security officer, went into the student's classroom and removed him from class. Apparently, the administration complied and directed the officers to his classroom.
Grijalva said it was mind-boggling that the Tucson High administration complied, but even more so for the officers to have been there in the first place. The officers purportedly went to show the regulation to the student during class time.
The unresolved question is who authorized and directed these two officers to go into Tucson High and pull the student out of class.
They first came after the department, the discipline, then the books... and now the students? Amazing the lack of outrage. Perhaps what's needed is a few thousand petitions to explain to this district that it is not acceptable to ban departments, thrash disciplines, ban books and now go into classrooms to yank out students... for the SERIOUS FELONY OF CROUCHING WHILE MEXICAN...

Outta Your Backpack Media: Empowering video of Native media makers!

Great new video from Navajo, Hopi, and Indigenous youths telling their own stories, with Native youth mentors describing video making in Flagstaff, Ariz.
Outta Your Backpack Media (OYBM) is an Indigenous youth response to the need for media justice in our communities. We offer free movie making workshops, resource access and distribution. Learn more at

Watch videos from our workshop on our channel and subscribe!

Shot on Panasonic GH2 (14mm-40mm kit lens, 50mm Nikon 1.4) | Edited on Final Cut X | Visual Effects on Motion 5, After Effects, Cinema 4D

Laguna Pueblo Film Festival: The real stories of uranium mining in Indian country Feb 2012

Navajos appeal Peabody's Kayenta Coal permit

Navajos protest Peabody to protect homelands
in Navajo capitol of Window Rock, Ariz.
Photo Sierra Club.
Navajo and Environmental Organizations Partner to Appeal Peabody’s Kayenta Coal Permit

Appeal aims to protect critical drinking water below Black Mesa

Censored News
Feb. 17, 2012

NIZHONI VALLEY, Ariz. -- A group of five organizations, To Nizhoni Ani, Black Mesa Water Coalition, Dine C.A.R.E, Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity filed an appeal yesterday that challenges the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement’s (OSM) decision to renew a permit for Peabody Coal Company's dirty Kayenta mine. The appeal charges that OSM revised a permit without considering data and analysis demonstrating how Peabody's pumping of the Navajo Aquifer for coal mining operations is linked to declining water levels, springs and groundwater quality in Navajo communities. The appeal also charges that OSM ignored these signs of material damage and changed the criteria that the agency has used for evaluating the mine’s impact on Black Mesa’s Navajo Aquifer since 1989.
Photo Mano Cockrum
Denver protest of Peabody coal
“With this appeal we are ensuring that Peabody is held accountable to the federal laws that protect our communities, environment, water, sacred places and cultural resources,” states Jihan Gearon of Black Mesa Water Coalition. “It's time for OSM to stop facilitating the destruction of our lands and instead support us in holding the corporations who operate on our lands accountable."

The Navajo Aquifer is the primary source of drinking water to thousands of Navajo and Hopi residents and has a central role in each tribe's cultural practices. For nearly 40 years Peabody has mined the Kayenta Mine, which has supplied approximately 8.5 million tons of coal annually to the Navajo Generating Station in northeastern Arizona. Both the Kayenta

Mine and the coal plant operations have significantly impacted several indigenous communities, particularly in the Black Mesa region, by damaging community health and polluting water resources.

“Drinking water wells in our community have declined over a hundred feet. Sinkholes and cracks near Forest Lakes have occurred where the surface is subsiding. Water quality has deteriorated and our sacred springs are disappearing. For OSM to just ignore this and say there are no significant impacts is a violation of their trust responsibility to our people,” states Marshall Johnson of To Nizhoni Ani.

Between 1969 and 2005 alone, Peabody pumped over 4,000 acre-feet of water annually from the Navajo Aquifer and continues to pump approximately 1,200 acre-feet for use at its mine operations. Peabody has historically been the largest pumper of regional groundwater, which is also used by local indigenous communities as their primary source of drinking water. Moreover, OSM’s permit allows Peabody to expand their operations into new areas that will force Navajo families to relocate, losing their ancestral homes for more coal development. “Four families will be relocated to make way for the mine expansion,” states Anna Frazier of Dine CARE. “How many more communities must be uprooted before OSM believes the impacts of this mine operation are significant?”

The appeal also argues that OSM failed to comply with several environmental laws and has not kept Peabody from posting adequate bonds to help pay for reclamation of the mine areas. "Peabody has gotten another rubber stamp from OSM and local residents' health and homes have been sacrificed in the name of cheap coal. OSM must do better a better job to protect the communities of Black Mesa,” states Andy Bessler of the Sierra Club.

The organizations are represented on appeal by attorney Brad Bartlett of the Western Energy Justice Project and Margot Pollans of the Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown University.
Marshall Johnson, To Nizhoni Ani
(928) 675-1852

Jihan Gearon, Black Mesa Water Coalition
(928) 380-6684

Anna Frazier, Dine C.A.R.E.
(928) 401-0382

Taylor McKinnon, Center for Biological Diversity
(928) 310-6713

Andy Bessler, Sierra Club
(928) 380-7808

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