Officials from the Arizona Department of Public Safety used excessive force and tear gas against demonstrators protesting the construction of a border wall at sites considered sacred to the Tohono O’odham Nation, according to a press release from Rep. Raúl Grijalva’s office.
The release says Tohono O’odham Nation Chairman Ned Norris confirmed the use of force against protesters at Quitobaquito Springs.
“For months, the O’odham people have pleaded with DHS to protect Quitobaquito Springs and other sacred sites along the border while the Trump Administration has continued to bulldoze their ancestral lands to build his useless vanity wall,” Grijalva said in the press release. “Now, law enforcement officials are using tear gas and excessive force against Native Americans exercising their constitutional rights in an abhorrent attempt to silence their voices. Americans are keenly aware of the historical mistreatment of this nation’s indigenous peoples, and the public will be rightfully incensed by this action. This treatment will not stand.”
The U.S. Representative for Arizona's 3rd congressional district held a hearing in the house’s Subcommittee on Indigenous Peoples in early February after the Trump administration used explosives to clear the way for border fencing at Monument Hill in the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, a site considered sacred to the Tohono O’odham.
“The federal government’s continued destruction of our religious and cultural resources are nothing less than bulldozing of our church grounds and cemeteries,” Chairman of the Tohono O’odham Nation Ned Norris said at the hearing. “The federal government owes our government and the governments of local border communities more respect.”
According to the press release, Grijalva is demanding an investigation into the use of force against protestors.
“Those responsible for this egregious display of excessive force against peaceful protestors, who are members of the Tohono O’odham Nation and their allies, must be held responsible,” Grijalva said. “I’m demanding an investigation into this act. The border wall has already destroyed precious desert habitats, divided families, and left an ugly scar across Southern Arizona.”
This article was misattributed when first published. The reporter's name has been corrected.