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A representative of the Apache Stronghold arrived at Oak Flat, Ariz. on Mar. 17 and found that the four crosses of an Apache holy ground had been intentionally destroyed.
Two of the crosses were missing, ripped from the ground, and two had been left standing but destroyed with what appears to be an axe. Evidence of large tires driving through the space filled the surrounding dirt and went through the prayer site. Ceremonial eagle feathers were left lying on the ground.
The Apache Stronghold has demanded an immediate response from the U.S. Forest Service and law-enforcement officials and is asking local leaders to condemn this crime to help ensure it does not happen again. Law enforcement has been called to investigate the action and pursue those responsible for what constitutes a potential targeted hate crime against the Apache people and their spiritual practice.
On Feb. 8, 2014, hundreds of people gathered at the Oak Flat Campground to hold a gathering in protest of a proposed copper mine that would decimate the area.
Chi'Chil'Ba'Goteel, also known as Oak Flat, has been a sacred site for Apache people since time immemorial. The proposed copper mine is a direct assault on their spiritual practice and culture. At the 2014 gathering a group formed, calling itself the Apache Stronghold. It remained in prayerful resistance to the mine for more than a year and has held regular ceremonies on the site for the past four years. Central to these ceremonies is the holy ground, where four crosses with eagle feathers attached had been staked up and used as a place of prayer.
"This site is like a church. If this attack had happened at a church, it would be considered a crime," said Wendsler Nosie, an Apache Stronghold leader. "A lot of people have come here to be healed from sickness and for their loved ones, asking for blessings. Throughout the year, this has been a site for families to gather and teach their children about the land. There are federal laws that are supposed to protect a place like this. We have never seen this kind of violence against us here. There needs to be accountability for this crime."
Under the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, the U.S. federal government is required to protect American Indians' right to religious freedom, "including but not limited to access to sites, use and possession of sacred objects, and the freedom to worship through ceremonials and traditional rites." The four desecrated crosses and feathers fall under AIRFA and are in the jurisdiction of the Forest Service. Oak Flat is currently held as part of the Tonto National Forest.
Background on Oak Flat
Oak Flat is an area about an hour east of Phoenix that is a sacred site known to Apaches as Chi'Chil'Ba'Goteel. Also home to a diverse desert ecosystem, it's also currently federal land within the Tonto National Forest.
In December 2014 Arizona Sens. McCain and Flake attached a land-exchange rider to the National Defense Authorization Act. The bill included the Oak Flat land exchange and gave multinational mining company Resolution Copper the area to build one of the world's largest copper mines.
The mine is slated to permanently decimate Oak Flat and surrounding desert features. Apache and mining-reform activists had been successfully fighting the proposal for nearly a decade before this "backroom deal" was made in Congress. Currently the Forest Service is undertaking an "environmental impact statement," a legally mandated assessment that must be completed before the land exchange is finalized.
At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive.(520) 623-5252
"It is imperative that we demand an independent investigation into the police murder of Manuel 'Tortuguita' Paez Terán," said one group. "We join calls for the termination of the lease and for Mayor Dickens' resignation."
A coalition of more than 1,300 climate and racial justice groups from across the United States on Monday joined a call for an independent investigation into the police killing of forest defender Manuel Paez Terán earlier this month, and demanded the resignation of Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens.
Nearly two weeks after the fatal shooting of the 26-year-old activist and medic—known as Tortuguita—Dickens "has still failed to condemn the killing," said the groups, and has instead opted "to condemn protestors and parrot the rhetoric of extreme right-wing governor Brian Kemp."
Tortuguita was shot and killed on January 18 when a joint task force including Atlanta police officers raided an encampment at Weelaunee forest. The forest is the site of a proposed $90 million police training facility known as Cop City.
"His championing of Cop City occurs against the backdrop of a continued investment in the gentrification of Atlanta and a continued disinvestment of affordable housing for a city identified as having the country's highest level of wealth inequality."
Over the weekend Dickens, a Democrat, condemned people who have protested Tortuguita's killing in Atlanta, accusing protesters of traveling to the city to "wreak havoc" at demonstrations that were overwhelmingly peaceful.
"Within a few hours of the shooting, Dickens tweeted support for [an] injured state trooper and completely ignored the death at the hands of a task force which included Atlanta police officers on his watch," wrote the groups, which include People vs. Fossil Fuels, Jewish Voice for Peace, Climate Justice Alliance, and Oil Change International. "As a growing number of Atlanta residents, national and global news outlets, and human rights and environmental organizations worldwide call for an investigation of the police narrative of Tortuguita's death, Dickens has dismissed their concerns. He has refused to bring any scrutiny to the one-sided and unsubstantiated recounting of events. Dickens has yet to offer condolences to the slain protestor's family."
The groups noted that Dickens and the Atlanta City Council have the authority to terminate the land lease for Cop City in the forest and called for the mayor to do so immediately, denouncing his strong support for the Atlanta Police Foundation's proposal.
"His championing of Cop City occurs against the backdrop of a continued investment in the gentrification of Atlanta and a continued disinvestment of affordable housing for a city identified as having the country's highest level of wealth inequality," said the groups. "Mayor Dickens can somehow find $90 million dollars for Cop City, one third of which will come from taxpayer money. Still, he can't find money to keep our already overwhelmed hospitals open or to finance much-needed affordable housing."
Ikiya Collective, a signatory of the letter, noted that the training slated to take place at Cop City "will impact organizing across the country" as police are trained to respond to popular uprisings.
"This is a national issue," said the collective. "Climate justice and police brutality are interconnected, which is why we are joining the Stop Cop City calls to action with the frontline communities in Atlanta."
"It is imperative that we demand an independent investigation into the police murder of Manuel 'Tortuguita' Paez Terán," said Ikiya Collective. "We join calls for the termination of the lease and for Mayor Dickens' resignation."
Brazil's far-right ex-president has applied for a visa to remain in the U.S. amid worsening legal troubles in his home country, where he is facing multiple investigations.
Brazil's far-right ex-president Jair Bolsonaro has applied for a six-month visitor visa to remain in the United States amid worsening legal troubles in his home country.
U.S. authorities received Bolsonaro's application on Friday, The Financial Timesreported Monday, citing "his lawyer, Felipe Alexandre, who has advised the former president not to leave the country while it is being processed—a period that could last several months."
Bolsonaro is facing multiple investigations in Brazil. That includes longstanding probes into alleged wrongdoing committed during his four-year presidential term as well as the Brazilian Supreme Court's recently launched inquiry aimed at determining whether his incessant lies about electoral fraud are to blame for the coup attempt that his supporters launched in Brasília on January 8.
The close ally of former U.S. President Donald Trump—whose unceasing lies about his loss in the 2020 presidential election sparked a deadly right-wing insurrection in Washington two years ago—retreated to Florida on December 30, two days before the January 1 inauguration of his leftist successor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, commonly known as Lula.
"He has been staying at the Kissimmee home of a former mixed martial arts fighter, José Aldo, where he is often thronged by adoring members of Florida's right-leaning Brazilian expat community," the Times noted. "Bolsonaro had been traveling on an A-1 visa reserved for diplomats and heads of state. It expired the day he left office, with a 30-day grace period."
Earlier this month, several members of U.S. Congress urged the Biden administration to rescind Bolsonaro's visa.
"We must not allow Mr. Bolsonaro or any other former Brazilian officials to take refuge in the United States to escape justice for any crimes they may have committed when in office," stated a letter to the White House signed by 41 Democratic lawmakers.
Alexandre claimed that there is no evidence that Bolsonaro committed any crimes related to the anti-democratic assault in Brasília, when his election-denying supporters ransacked Brazil's presidential palace, Congress, and Supreme Court.
Bolsonaro has tried to distance himself from the rioters, saying that they "crossed the line." In December, however, Bolsonaro broke his post-election silence to tell his backers—many of whom spent weeks after the October 30 runoff calling for a military coup to prevent Lula from taking office—that his political fate rested in their hands.
"Who decides where I go are you," Bolsonaro told a crowd outside the gates of the presidential residence on December 9. "Who decides which way the armed forces go are you."
Days later, hundreds of Bolsonaristas set fire to cars and buses and tried to breach federal police headquarters in Brasília in a preview of the larger January 8 insurrection.
A bigger right-wing mob invaded Brazil's main government buildings earlier this month under the false pretense that Lula's victory in October's election was the result of widespread fraud—a mistaken belief fueled by years of Bolsonaro and his allies' baseless attacks on the integrity of the country's election infrastructure, disinformation that spread rapidly on social media.
The day after the attack, thousands of democracy defenders took to the streets of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo to demand jail time for those who carried out the violence as well as those who aided and abetted it.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Western Hemisphere panel, said earlier this month that the U.S. should comply if Lula's administration requests Bolsonaro's extradition.
Alexandre, meanwhile, told the Times that Bolsonaro "might eventually decide to petition for a more permanent U.S. visa than the six-month extension he is seeking."
"I hope that some talks are going on, otherwise we are inching toward the Third World War," said President Zoran Milanovic.
Croatian President Zoran Milanovic became the latest critic to condemn the decision of Western countries, including the United States, to send dozens of tanks to Ukraine to help fight the war against Russia, warning that continued military escalation will not help bring the conflict to an end.
"I am against sending any lethal arms there," Milanovic said at a press conference. "It prolongs the war."
The Biden administration last week announced that it will send more than 30 Abrams battle tanks to Ukraine, while German officials confirmed they will supply Ukrainian soldiers with 14 Leopard 2 tanks. Poland, Spain, the Netherlands, Finland, Denmark, and the United Kingdom have already dispatched tanks to the country, which was invaded nearly a year ago by Russian forces.
Conservative British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said last week that the continued military support for Ukraine will "ensure Ukraine wins this war and secures a lasting peace," but peace advocates have long said that countries including the U.S. must prioritize promoting diplomacy between Ukraine and Russia.
"What is the goal of this war? A war against a nuclear power that is at war in another country? Is there a conventional way to defeat such a country?"
The Stop the War Coalition in the U.K. announced an upcoming demonstration last week following the announcement by the U.S. and Germany, saying, "Arming Ukraine and sending tanks is a step further away from negotiation."
In October, progressives in the U.S. House said in a letter to Biden that "the alternative to diplomacy is protracted war" before distancing themselves from the statement under pressure. The White House has resisted calls to aggressively push for peaceful negotiations even from Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Mark Milley.
Milanovic's most recent comments follow his accusation earlier this month that the U.S. and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization NATO) are fighting a "proxy war against Russia through Ukraine."
"What is the goal of this war?" Milanovic asked on Monday. "A war against a nuclear power that is at war in another country? Is there a conventional way to defeat such a country?"
He also predicted that European countries will "pay the price" for becoming militarily involved in the way and that Europe will ultimately pour more resources into the effort to end the war through military might.
"America pays the least," he said. "Not a single American tank will go to Ukraine in a year. Only German tanks will be sent there."
Last week, he expressed hope in a television interview that negotiations between Ukraine and Russia are ongoing.
"Supplies of Western tanks to Ukraine will extend the war. If America and Russia don't agree, and that's not in sight so far, the war won't be over," he toldN1. "I hope that some talks are going on, otherwise we are inching toward the Third World War."