Anti-Snowbowl graffiti grows
"Now it's not just one group, it's lots of groups, and not just one person over them, so it is really hard to tell who did this."
AZ Daily Sun | Link to original
Graffiti found over the weekend in the Southside and Plaza Vieja neighborhoods is carrying an anti-Snowbowl sentiment.
Police responded to Nimarco's Pizza, Beaver Street Gallery, Guadalupe Park, the old Flagstaff Fire station on Malpais Street, Harbert Chapel AME Church and First Missionary Baptist Church for reports of spray-painted graffiti that included phrases such as "Protect the Peaks," "Smash Snowbowl" and "No poop snow."
An anti-Snowbowl activist connected to recent protests and to a website promoting them denied any connection between his group and the graffiti.
But Rudy Preston said he wasn't surprised by the acts.
"That graffiti's to be expected in a situation where genocide against a people is happening," he said. "I think it's pretty normal."
The damage was reported last Friday. As of Tuesday afternoon, First Missionary Baptist Church showed no signs of graffiti or a fresh repaint on the church building itself, but the gray concrete wall facing Butler Avenue showed writing. Harbert Chapel's south-facing wall had the words "no poop snow" faintly legible on its white brick.
Such graffiti is typically considered a misdemeanor, but the damage at the churches is considered a felony under state law.
Preston, who runs the website truesnow.org, said he doesn't necessarily condone the graffiti. He prefers to spread messages through non-permanent chalk.
During Tuesday's Flagstaff City Council meeting, he denied a true snow.org connection to the graffiti. The city has agreed to send Snowbowl treated wastewater to make snow.
Another activist opposed to Snowbowl's snowmaking plans was troubled by graffiti at places of worship.
"The parallel to me is putting the wastewater fake snow on the mountain," said Mary Sojourner, a Flagstaff author.
"Any violation of a spiritual space is an indication that something in a community is very, very wrong," she added.
Police are requesting the public's assistance in investigating the incidents. The police department can be reached at 774-1414. The Silent Witness phone number is 774-6111.
HISTORY OF RESISTANCE
Snowbowl's plans to use treated effluent to make snow have long been contentious.
This summer has seen protests and civil disobedience as Snowbowl began installing a pipeline to convey treated wastewater to the ski area for the 2012-13 ski season.
Snowbowl's owners say their business cannot survive without snowmaking.
The San Francisco Peaks are held holy by 13 area Native American tribes. Opponents of Snowbowl's development have filed lawsuits against the snowmaking plan, but their religious claims were rejected by the courts. Their objections based on environmental and health grounds are before a federal appeals court.
This summer's demonstrations have led to 26 arrests, activist Rudy Preston said. (He has been among them.) Activists have locked themselves to construction equipment along Snowbowl Road, blocked the road by chaining themselves to concrete-filled barrels, held marches downtown and protested outside regional offices of the U.S. Forest Service, among other acts.
Last month, the Hopi tribe filed a lawsuit in Coconino County Superior Court to invalidate the contract between Snowbowl and the city of Flagstaff for up to 2 million gallons of treated wastewater per day for four months. The tribe also wants the court to declare that spraying the San Francisco Peaks with manmade snow is a health hazard, will create a public nuisance, and infringe on the tribe's rights to water and religious freedom.