Blockade Halts Ski Resort's Desecration of Peaks!
Flagstaff, AZ -- August 8th, 2011. Nine people took direct action at 5:00 AM on Monday morning; blockading the ongoing destruction and desecration of the Holy San Francisco Peaks. The nine individuals directly confronted the eco-cidal actions of Arizona Snowbowl, halting their daily clear-cutting and pipeline excavation plans for eight hours. The group’s police liaison, who was attempting to ensure the safety of the demonstrators, was immediately arrested. More than 50 law enforcement officials, using industrial saws and a jack hammer to forcefully break apart the blockade.
“The action we took today is one part of a series of events with the intent to stop Snowbowl, the US Forest Service, and other corporations from further desecrating the Holy San Francisco Peaks,” stated Haley Coles after being released from jail. “The pipeline will not be tolerated. Spewed waste water turned into artificial snow will not be tolerated. Clear cuts, slash piles, and burning of hundred-year old trees will not be tolerated. The Holy mountain will be defended, and the desecration will be stopped; at whatever cost. We have the mountain on our side,” said Coles.
James Kennedy, also arrested during Monday’s blockade, stated, “Today, a small group of people decided that they had enough of wealthy investors, cultural genocide, and privileged white people who are indifferent to the destructive impacts of their recreational activities. We decided to take matters into our own hands and you can too. Whatever you feel is sacred, defend it with all your heart and take a risk, because our future generations will not forgive inaction.”
Jenna Tomasello, who was also part of the action, stated that “Almost all of our options have been exhausted. The US Supreme Court failed to protect religious freedoms of Native peoples. The Flagstaff City Council has failed to meaningfully listen to its constituents who have consistently vocalized their opposition to Arizona Snowbowl development for decades. And the US Forest Service has failed to protect the public from the environmental impacts of treated sewage effluent. It is time for more people, wherever you are, to open your eyes. Respect the land of which we are dependent on and the people that the land has been stolen from. The only choice for us is to take action against those who threaten Indigenous cultures, the environment and our future. It’s frustrating that we had to do this in order to make this point clear.” stated Tomasello.
“For those of us who have chosen to fight the colonial strongholds, we have also chosen to fight for the minds that hold this power. If harmony is to prevail, all beliefs attempting to control nature must be liberated. We belong to the Earth; the Earth does not belong to us.” stated Tom Lang, who was part of the protest.
All 10 arrested were released within hours due to strong outpouring of community support.
17 people have been arrested during the week of action to “Protect the Peaks.” 23 arrests have been made since June when 6 people locked themselves inside the pipeline trench and to Snowbowl equipment.
"This was an autonomous action planned by those who took part. It was beautiful and powerful and very responsible. They took every measure to ensure their safety. Nobody was unwillingly put in the way. A crowd was not gathered." stated Rudy Preston, police liaison for the protesters who was also arrested. "The Civil Disobedience roadblock on Snowbowl Road was not a family event or publicized with the rest of the legal actions planned for the 'Week of Action.'"
"Today will be a day for families, elders, youth, and all people of conscience to come out and once again speak up!" stated Preston.
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 action are separate from the Coalition involved in the lawsuit.
The San Francisco Peaks are Holy to more than 13 Indigenous Nations.
They are a place of worship, a place where deities reside, a place where offerings are made, where herbs are gathered, where emergence has occurred, and more.
Monday’s blockade to protect the Peaks 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 and solidarity actions have occurred in Phoenix and Los Angeles.
Demonstrators invite everyone to join them on Tuesday, August 9, at 12:30PM to protest High Desert Investment, the private company in-charge of the current clear-cutting, located at 504 E Butler Ave. Afterward, there will be a gathering at the Flagstaff City Hall at 4:00PM to continue vocalizing opposition to Snowbowl’s destruction and desecration.
Note to editors: Video & High Resolution Photos Available Upon Request.