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Tohono O'odham Leader Rebukes Use Of Tear Gas On Protesters

Angela Gervasi


The leader of the Tohono O’odham Nation denounced the use of tear gas on protesters near the U.S.-Mexico border. 

"The use of tear gas on O’odham and fellow American citizens exercising their sacred constitutional right to protest is utterly appalling, and not something that should be tolerated in our democracy,” Tohono O’odham Nation Chairman Ned Norris Jr. said in a statement yesterday.


A protest had taken place by the border on Monday, near Highway 85 in southern Arizona, according to a release from the O’odham Anti Border-Collective. Demonstrators decried border wall construction on O’odham land.


Norris is among Tohono O’odham individuals who have stated strong opposition to border wall construction —  the construction has destroyed sacred sites and burial grounds, Norris said. More than 60 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border cut through the Tohono O’odham Nation, according to the Nation’s website, and through the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump administration has continued building a stretch of wall within O’odham land.


Norris also said the wall was “ineffective, easily bypassed, and a complete waste of taxpayer dollars,” in yesterday’s statement.


A">video sent to KNAU by the O’odham Anti-Border Collective shows tension building between protesters and Border Patrol agents during Monday’s protest. At one point, four agents can be seen wrestling one man to the ground. 


A Customs and Border Patrol spokesman confirmed to Arizona Public Media that agents used tear gas, and that eleven people were arrested in the protests.


The demonstration had taken place during Arizona’s first official Indigenous Peoples Day. 

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