Dear CTOC, What part of Sacred Don’t You Understand?

Dear CTOC, What part of Sacred Don’t You Understand?

January 24, 2012, a group of more than 3-dozen Loop 202 resisters united to confront the Citizens Transportation Oversight Committee (CTOC) at their first meeting of 2012.  A portion of the resisters travelled from the Gila River Indian Community (GRIC), the community that would be most effected by the current proposal. Community members from Phoenix and surrounding cities also amassed to bring their heartfelt messages to the heartless CTOC.

Why the CTOC?
The CTOC is a group of individuals elected by the Governor and Maricopa County Board of Supervisors. This board holds the power (over the people) to convey and recommend messages pertaining to the allocation of state transportation funding and planning. They work hand-in-hand with other bureaucratic politicians such as the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) (which saw a strong community presence at their January 14, 2012 transportation committee meeting), Governor Brewer, and the director of the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT). Conveniently enough, Chairpersyn Roc Arnett of CTOC is also a voting member of MAG.

At 3pm there was a high-energy rally held outside of the 206 S. 17th Ave. ADOT building, where the CTOC meeting was to be held. The entire block was host to numerous large banners, chalking of sidewalks, chants through a megaphone and other visible signs of resistance. Many Indigenous Dine’ and O’odham youth and Elders from Gila River were there to drive an often intentionally left out point of view to ADOT.
The rally eventually snaked around to the adjacent block. As they marched to the entrance their footsteps echoed to the chant of “What do we want?” “No Loop 202” “When do we want it?” “NOW!”

A strong spirit of confrontation filled the air and continued as the large group took their energy toward the building entrance. They lined the main walkway with banners, their chants reverberating through the courtyard. As the group lined in front of the entrance, a DPS officer aggressively barked orders declaring they could not block the door with their banners. He was answered with the chant: “No more needless roads! People need their fucking homes!” The same officer then got in the face of one of the protesters but was shouted down with the chant: “What part of Sacred don’t you understand?”

As the community members entered and advanced toward the meeting room with their banners they were told banners were not allowed. One of the resisters yelled inside that a border patrol checkpoint was being erected just like in the Tohono O’odham Nation. No laws were cited and upon request, once again, officers on duty refused to identify themselves while serving at a public meeting.

Leading up to the meeting the head of the CTOC approached one of the Gila River Community members and attempted to dissuade her from filling out two comment cards. This same tactic was used at the November CTOC meeting to make it impossible for the voice of the O’odham community to be heard at the meeting. It was demanded that he stop providing misinformation and to discuss this during the meeting as part of public record.

The public-comment period of the meeting was utilized by more than 15 different people opposed to the Loop 202 proposal.  Although the committee repeatedly insisted the Loop 202 extension was not on the agenda, it fit in with three agenda items. Within the comment period for these items people addressed their animosity and full rejection of the Loop 202.
The meeting opened with a public comment period packed to the brim with disgust for the Loop 202. In general, the spirit of the rally was transferred into the auditorium as the Loop 202 resisters dominated the majority of the meeting.  An assortment of varying comments were given by GRIC members, elders, as well as concerned community members representing most of the valley’s major cities.
Youth and elders from the community spoke to their personal experiences with health problems due to pollution, their necessity to maintain autonomy from the state, and a demand to protect sacred sites. Promises were made by all to fight until the freeway proposal is entirely dismantled.

The next agenda item commented on by Loop 202 resisters was the “Approval of the Minutes” from the CTOC meeting on November 15, 2011. GRIC members and other opponents spoke to their enragement that the Loop 202 had yet to been placed on the agenda, after it was demanded by GRIC members at the previous meeting that it be added to the agenda for the January meeting. It was also brought up how GRIC members were not allowed to speak at the November meeting.

The level to which the CTOC consistently ignores the demands of its constituents highlights its members’ blatant disregard for anything that doesn’t lead to the lining of their pockets.

During the “Five Year Performance Audit of the Maricopa County Regional Transportation Plan” agenda item, many approached the mic to share their discontent with the environmentally racist and harmful cultural, ecological, and physical repercussions of building the freeway extension. One member used the time to express his rage about the plans to transport ancestral remains dug up by ADOT to a museum. This was in response to one committee member’s statement of “odd reassurance” in regards to their process for frequently disrupting the burial grounds of indigenous people in the valley area.
Numerous times, the chairman and others said they understood there were a lot of “emotions” about the proposed freeway. Reducing human rights grievances to mere “emotions” by CTOC was evidence of their cultural, human, and environmental insensitivities and inability to listen to the hard facts that members were bringing up.

We will see if the CTOC is capable of bringing up the Loop 202 on the next agenda. We do not look to the CTOC or MAG for direction or understanding. Our presence at their meetings is to bring their arrogance to public attention. We rally to tear the social fabric holding their corporate networks and security together. Because we know under the outward togetherness of their business attire lays a permeable fragile bundle of nerves held together by the chance they stand unchallenged. Yet we know when we rise to challenge them, they quickly fall to the wayside of our challenge.


About survivalsolidarity

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