Anti-Freeway Protestors Crash Loop 202 Networking Event!

June 18, 2015
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On June 17th, the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) hosted a Loop 202 networking event at Rio Salado College. Representatives from the three private consortia bidding to receive the contract to build the 202 extension attended the event. The three construction groups are South Mountain Mobility Group, Connect 202 Partners and South Mountain Development Group.

Rallying In front of building.

Rallying In front of building.

The protest was led by O’otham from the Gila River Indian Community and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. About twenty more 202 opponents from other Indigenous tribes and the Phoenix area supported the O’otham. Earlier that morning, Rio Salado College was chalked with anti-202 and anti-ADOT slogans, so that when the main group of protestors arrived, police were expecting a protest. The police were inside the building with ADOT and the three construction groups, so at the start of the rally, protestors stood outside and chanted “No Desecration for Transportation!” One member of the group, Alicia Morales, a Gila River Indian Community member, was allowed to go inside where the private contractors were meeting. Alicia stated that she was then told by police that she could not go inside the building, because she was carrying an anti-202 banner. Morales was able to get inside with the banner and stated that from inside the building, “I could hear everybody outside and everybody in the meeting could hear the chants as well.”

During this time, protestors opened the doors of the building to ensure that ADOT and the construction companies could hear the protest outside. Police then pulled the door handles out of their hands and forced the doors shut. The group countered by entering the building through another door. Traditional O’odham singers began to sing inside while others round danced around them. Other protestors held up banners around the traditional singers and dancers to not allow police through to stop the singers. After the songs were over, the group attempted to enter the conference room where the three groups were presenting their project overviews, and a panel discussion about 202 construction was taking place. However, the doors were locked from the inside. Throughout the morning’s protest, police and Rio Salado College security repeatedly told the protestors to leave or quite down. This did not happen until the ADOT event ended.

Inside Rio Salado College.

Inside Rio Salado College.

In an interview with KJZZ 91.5 FM, the local National Public Radio affiliate, Andrew Pedro, a Gila River Indian Community member, explained the connections between threats to Indigenous sacred sites around Arizona and the Sun Corridor, Arizona’s portion of the CANAMEX Corridor. The CANAMEX Corridor is a NAFTA superhighway designed to help facilitate international trade for multinational energy extraction corporations-the mining, coal, and oil industries in Canada, Mexico, and the United States. Pedro also said that the protest carried the message to ADOT and the three groups hoping to build the 202 that O’otham sacred land is not up for negotiation, and that Indigenous people will defend their lands, to stop their destruction in the name of progress and convenience. You can hear a short portion of the interview here

Fair Morago, 35, from Sacaton on the Gila River Indian Community said, “With the Loop 202, our ways of life are threatened. I am a mother, and I want my children to know where they come from. I felt the presence of our people with us as we sang. I am not afraid to fight and protect that feeling, for myself and my children.” Near the end of ADOT’s networking event, the protestors found an entrance to the conference room. They went into the conference room, with about half of the protestors going in the meeting with the traditional singers. Police rushed to block the doors after the first half got into the conference room, and would not let anyone else into the room. Before leaving the conference room, the protestors inside and outside the conference room chanted “No 202” together as the ADOT networking event ended.

-Akimel O’odham Youth Collective & Gila River Against Loop 202

About Akimel O'odham Youth Collective

We are a youth based group of the Gila River Indian Community outreaching, organizing, and informing youth about the issues going on in their community. An example includes the proposed South Mountain Loop 202 freeway extension, going on the reservation or off the reservation. We strongly oppose this project and will be working with all O’odham to stop this freeway. Youth today are always given false information, we hear so many sides of a story, yet most don’t hear all of the information. The AOYC is here to change that, we want to give the correct information to the youth so we may grow stronger as a group as well as a community. We will outreach to youth in the community so that they may become involved in the issues that will affect their future. We want youth to know of the issues that will directly affect not only themselves, but as well as their O’odham Himdag (traditional way of life). AOYC will organize gatherings and rallies so that youth have a say and are heard. In our previous experiences, we have not seen many youth out in the public participating in rallies or demonstrations. We want to empower youth so that the community knows how important these issues are to us. In near future expect more youth actively speaking and doing what is right for our community SO GET INFORMED AND TAKE ACTION!!!! Contact Info: Email: Phone #: (520) 510-3407 Phone #: (520) 350-0603
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3 Responses to Anti-Freeway Protestors Crash Loop 202 Networking Event!

  1. How can i get involved?

  2. Tim Lank says:

    Hello I was inside during your protest and could hear you loud and clear. One of the consortium speakers even made a comment about the chanting. Keep up the good work. Tim Lank VP, PARC – Protecting Arizonas Resources and Children

    Sent from my iPad

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