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No Border Militancy and Supporting Resistance to the South Mountain Freeway Loop 202

June 19, 2010

Earlier this month a statement was released on possible anarchist responses to SB 1070 could be. In respect to continuing that dialogue with more of a strategy, enters this newest article:

Militant Responses to the Militancy of the Border and What Supporting Resistance to the South Mountain Freeway Loop 202 Could Look Like

For those of us on the occupied ground of occupied Akimel O’odham Pi-Posh land (Phoenix) or Scuckson (Occupied Territories of Tucson, AZ) these two subjects, one-the militarization of the O’odham land two-the encroaching infrastructure project of the South Mountain Freeway loop 202 are two places to show support and take action.

On the Militarization of the O’odham Land

The border is a project of many tiers. While Arizonans commonly think of the border as the line dividing the state of Arizona from Mexico, Tohono O’odham land is also violently divided by the Mexico/US border. Some attribute the border division to the original 45 tribes shrinking down to nine. The tribes are still hurting with population on one of the last nine
shrinking.

Spanish invaders first occupied Tohono O’odham land in the 1500’s. But after the US seized half of Mexico in the 1840’s, the Treaty of Guadalupe created the current border, one which splits O’odham land into US and Mexican sides of the line. US and Mexican territory. In an interview with Jeff Hendricks, O’odham Activist Ofelia Rivas describes her experience with the current state of the US Borders as:

“The increased drug trafficking and human trafficking started funneling through the O’odham territory when the United States decided to re-channel the traffic flow of “immigrants” through O’odham territory with operations such as “Operation Gatekeeper”’ The increased border patrol (bp) forces in Texas, New Mexico and California forced the traffic to flow through O’odham territory.”

The US bp has used the high numbers of people migrating through O’odham territory from Central America (from as far as Southern America) as an excuse to harass O’odham people. O’odham land spans area on both sides of the border. This leads bp to accuse O’odham people of drug trafficking in.
These allegations also lead to severe harassment by the Border patrol of O’odham people. There are many reports of masked, gun toting-thugs raiding O’odham houses and demanding to see US identification. The O’odham have asked for support with documenting the violence they have experienced and witnessed.

The violence from bp and other facets of homeland security on O’odham land takes many numerous forms. Raids have been occurring as recent as May 24, of this year. In 2009 an O’odham youth was murdered by border patrol. Since 9/11 Children living on the “Mexican” side of the border have been forced to obtain special clearance just to attend classes and avoid day-to-day harassment from BP. The violence also takes the form of literally digging up O’odham ancestors to build the border that divides them.

The border issue that people are more familiar with generally is operation Safe Guard. The well-known work being done in that area is the humanitarian aid provided by No More  Deaths. People from all over the US and beyond travel to the Sonoran desert to do desert patrols and water drops. Volunteers also work checkpoints, and perform an assortment of other supportive work. While this work is of great relevance and we would in no way like to challenge it we do want to challenge the relationship it has to border abolition.

While delivering gallons of water to the border and performing on-the-ground medical work is literally a lifesaver, as anarchists and non-reformists we aim to develop more confrontational and direct demands and actions to respond to the violence of the militarization of the border. More specifically bring awareness to the violence the border and it’s enforcers perpetuate on O’odham people. As well as demanding an uncompromising, non-reformist call for an end to the militarization of the border.

Supporting those that cross the border is a very crucial, necessary first step. Developing a long-term strategy that will eventually lead to the destruction of the metal fences that reinforce the racist policies of the US and Arizona is a must. Respecting peoples obvious right to provide humanitarian aid along the border is important. Yet the reality is that nothing will change if we all play it safe. A comprehensible, strong and universal No Border dialogue must be developed and disseminated with a speed to match the pace of lives lost annually to the border.

International borders walls will never fall unless there is a consistent force driving relentlessly to bring them down. The safe middle ground of this discussion was started years ago. It’s time to get dangerous. We need to create an outlet for those that are frustrated with the limitations of current approaches to the border. Lives are being lost, and as long as borders stand lives will be lost attempting to defy it.

The obvious main cause of deaths to borders is the militarization of thems. A non-militant movement will never be able to change that. Multiple points of vulnerability within the militarization of the border exist. These weaknesses in the states infrastructure need to be targets of our attacks. Everything from the Department of Homeland Security, separate security companies to detention firms involved are all potential targets.

Throughout the world there are numerous No Border movements exploding out of the woodwork. The US/Mexico border was host to a No Borders Camp in 2007. Every year in Europe No Border Camps occur, often multiple ones. While these camps obviously do not make walls immediately fall, they do provide the much needed space for large-scale anti-border analysis to develop rapidly among large groups of people from diverse backgrounds with different skills and experience levels. That along with increased intentional No Border dialogue in our own communities will be some of the most integral tools in developing the analysis and strong networks necessary for re-energizing the North American No Border movement.

Every time there is a public event on the border or laws related to those crossing it we need to be there providing an uncompromising border abolition stance for any ear ready to hear it. The No Borders network of the US needs a lot of support to get back up on it’s feet so it can kick down the borders around us. Every aspect of the militarization of the border should be considered a possible target for attack.

South Mountain Freeway Loop 202
One infrastructure project that we need to prevent from ever being built is the South Mountain Freeway Loop 202. The Freeway Loop is still in the pre-Environmental Impact Statement phase. Aside from the obvious unneeded destruction that looms close behind the pavement of any highway, the 2 current proposals for the freeway would be sinking its teeth into the Ahwatukee South Mountains, and ultra-sensitive areas around the Gila River.

The Gila river is home to the Spikedace and loach minnow, both federally threatened species as well as the Gila topminnow and the Desert pupfish, both federally endangered species. The fact that the habitat of these fish could be under attack should be taken seriously since according to Arizona fish and game of 36 fish species historically native to Arizona, 21 are listed as threatened or endangered, and one species has gone extinct.

Studies have proven that the two main reasons for the species decline is due to habitat loss and negative interactions. The river is also home to mountain lions and the threatened Mexican Spotted Owl. The construction of this highway would also unavoidably disrupt Indigenous sacred burial sites. The unneeded pavement (you can easily already cover the ground that it would be used to “bypass”) could also lead to the forcible relocation of Ahwatukee and West Phoenix residents.

The Freeway would be an extension of the Interstate-10 (I-10) trade Corridor of the Future. The two proposals for the highway would either go through the Gila River Reservation or through the Ahwatukee foothills.
Both proposals are clear examples of colonialism destroying anything that stands between capitalism and it’s profits. If state bureaucrats involved in Phoenix transportation planning have their way, this will be yet another example of eradicating sacred natural lands in the Sonora desert from Phoenix to Tucson.

The US government has been attempting to award grants to states for the construction of roadways that lessen congestion and aid in the transportation of goods. The US Department of Transportation says, “Congestion is one of the single largest threats to America’s economic prosperity and way of life.” Corridors of the Future such as I-10 are their solution to this problem. The Corridors of the Future are the roadways that will facilitate the movement of goods for Trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). According to the US Department of Transportation (DOT), traffic congestion is responsible for $200 billion in economic losses each year in the US alone.

As the Zapatistas did we need to resist every attempt of the state to further colonize and destroy what is natural and sacred. Freeway 202 would not only tear apart indigenous communities on the Gila river Reservation or in the Ahwatukee foothills, it would further colonize and exploit  people in Central and Southern America.

Many people would be affected by this road, and the time to talk to them is now. Using tactics such as the Listening Project model could be one of those ways. If a route for this highway is decided on, talking to those that the proposed highway would relocate and communicate what our support for them could look like would be one of the first steps to creating
fertile resistance to this infrastructure project. Some of them may feel alone, and if they have people to talk to and help them sort out there options it may be easier for them to defend their homes.

Meetings are ongoing for freeway 202 and every other part of the I-10 Corridor; having a strong presence at these meetings is a must. City meetings often leave those involved feeling extremely alienated by the state’s complete dismissal of concerns raised by those affected by their projects. The state hardly ever provides ample time for everyone that goes to actually say what’s on their mind. Being present to listen to people who are affected can help assist them in finding their place in resistance to the road

Starting early to develop a strong network of supporters could aid those that are attempting to defend their land from the possibility of a highway in the future. Gaining a strong support base can also help provide the means of support for those that choose to attack and take action against the road.

From here on out we only gain more and more targets. It should be our goal to turn anyone in favor of this road against it. Anyone actually providing the energy, planning and resources for this road is definitely a target. Whether capitalist figure or business, personal or political, the tactics exist for swaying people to either neutralize our enemies or possibly become active opponents to this road.

It is necessary to consider both the strategic benefits and negative ramifications before blindly taking action. Definitely think about whether or not your actions would support or hurt Indigenous people affected by this project. Also, be sure to analyze how your actions can be the most inclusive and be the best use of your resources. Some of the first obvious actions are engaging in dialogue with groups like O’odham Solidarity Across Borders about strategy. An important part of our strategy to attack needs to be exploiting every weak point of State Transportation planners. Fortunately the economy is far from flourishing. If this road does get approved the building of it will probably be privatized. Whoever those companies might be that put bids in should find out fast that we are not going to allow them to build this road.

The South Mountain Freeway Loop 202 is a frivolous idea that should never be built. A large first step in the fight against this road is helping support the Solidarity Across Borders Collective and elders around the from the Salt River area by asking what support for resistance to this highway would look like. We should also work our hardest to meet those that are already opposed to this road and try our hardest to help them and provide support where it is needed. Preventing this road from being built is an act of confronting colonization and directly cutting off the growth of capitalism through the expansion of it’s infrastructure. Lets work to support each other in defending this sacred land. The time to attack is now!

Additional resources regarding Freeway Loop 202

O’odham Solidarity Across Borders Links to Ahwatukee

Maricopa Associations of Governments (MAG) Transportation Policy Committee

Root Force (Anti-Infrastructure Group)

The Ecological Effects of Roads (PDF)

Road Ragging Online Resource

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