The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of events for everyone opposed to the expansion of the Loop 202 freeway. For the No South Mountain Freeway crew we have been busy for the entire month of May. Rather it being drafting and editing statements for the 5-year-transportation plan, asking all the unwanted questions in Laveen or confronting the police as they kick out indigenous youth from a hearing about their sacred site, we continue to be busy indeed.
We had the chance to table at the May 11th Public information event on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), which was hosted by Protecting Arizona’s Resources and Children PARC. The main speaker of the event was Steve Brittle of Don’t Waste AZ. He shared his amazing insight on the draft DEIS and did so immensely well. This is a link to talking points regarding the DEIS from Steve Brittle and PARC.
Just Last week on May 21, we joined many others from around the Valley to attend the Public hearing on the DEIS at the Phoenix convention center downtown.
It truly was a mixture of tense feelings inside the convention center. Between booths of information from ADOT and seats cluttered together to sit shoulder-to-shoulder with their foes. Members of groups such as PARC which have been organizing against the freeway since the early 2000’s shared close quarters with newbie pro-build residents. Members of the Akimel O’odham Youth Collective and the No South Mountain Freeway group peered down the sidewalk as numerous pro-builders were bused to the convention center and greeted by Christi Perez of the Tempe based LLC Pangea. Perez handed out bright green pro-build T-shirts as busloads of valley residents entered the convention center to demand South Mountain be cut into to solve their traffic problems. Perhaps the most blatant example of environmental racism of the day came from 2 officers of the Phoenix Police Departments, South Mountain Precinct which kicked out Gilar River Indian Community member Andrew Pedro. According to Joey Perez also of the Tempe based LLC Pangea Pedro “pointed his fingers at him like a gun.” So an officer under the supervision of South Mountain Precinct Sargent Dupra, kicked Andrew out of the event. Perez and Pangea are currently under investigation for fraudulent signatures on petitions to force Gila River Indian Community members to build the freeway on the reservation opposed to the off-reservation alignment that the DEISR has currently been submitted for.By far, providing information regarding the route at both of the Pro-202 event in Laveen and The PARC event has been the best of times for us! Due to the lack of easily accessible route maps and information pertaining to them, we have become a resource to community members attempting to find their homes in terms of the right-of-way “path of forced relocation and destruction” of the Freeway. And this we intend to do even more during the next few months of DEIS limbo.
Throughout the next few days we will expand on our report-back of these incredible events. We are also in the process of editing the video to share with everyone later. To veiw a copy of the DEIS you can find it on our Draft Environmental Impact Statement Report page.