Protestors stood outside Arizona Senator John McCain’s Phoenix office on Thursday, March 23 with signs and flags to express their opposition against President Trump’s proposed border wall.
“We are here to ask Senator John McCain to officially oppose the border wall and reverse waivers that allow the government to build without environmental impact studies, without regard to American Indian Religious Freedom Act and NAGPRA,” said Gabriella Cazares-Kelly at the start of the protest.
Cazares-Kelly (Tohono O’odham) went on to say she wants Senator McCain to share how he plans to work with the Tohono O’odham to ensure that the 75 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border that runs through the Tohono O’odham Nation is not further militarized.
“…We have had a lot of tribal members share stories of harassment and infringement of civil liberties and human right violations that are occurring on our tribal land,” said Cazares-Kelly. “We have strangers on our land who are not always trained whether or not they are doing the best job they can. We need to address that before we have an influx of Border Patrol agents being let free [on the Tohono O’odham Nation].”
The protest was organized by Indivisible Tohono which was created by four women: April Ignacio (Tohono O’odham), Annamarie Stevens (Tohono O’odham), Rebecca Cohen and Cazares-Kelly. Indivisible Tohono is a “grassroots group concerned with current federal and Arizona legislation primarily impacting the Tohono O’odham Nation.”
The protest had a diverse crowd of 120 people and plenty of people who drove by honking their car horns in support. There was also the occasional person who would yell out their car window “Trump, Trump, Trump.”
Indivisible Tohono also had a table where people could write letters to Senator McCain. The organization collected more than 50 letters in two hours.
Towards the end of the protest people gathered in a circle to hear what six Tohono O’odham tribal members had to say about the border wall. Those individuals were Cazares-Kelly, Ignacio, Thomasa Rivas, David Garcia, Faith Ramon and Vana Lewis.
“The border wall would destroy a lot of families and affect every O’odham,” said Rivas when she addressed the crowd of protestors.