Despite Protests And Injunction, Work Continues On San Diego Border Wall
Monday, October 12, 2020
Photo by Max Rivlin-Nadler
For months, members of the Kumeyaay nation have tried to stop the hasty construction of a wall on the Mexican border.
They say the federal government has not followed the law to consult with them, and in doing so, is destroying their cultural heritage sites.
On Monday, members of the Kumeyaay Nation from both sides of the US-Mexico border met at the wall in Tecate to continue their protests. The protest marked Indigenous Peoples’ Day, which has been supplanting the Columbus Day holiday in many parts of the country, including California.
It also came a few days after a federal appeals court ruled that the Trump Administration had illegally redirected defense spending to pay for border wall construction in San Diego county, and it ordered the government to stop construction.
“They’re trying to keep us away from our own family, our own friends. Our own relatives," said Stan Rodriguez, a member of the Santa Ysabel Kumeyaay. "These [walls] are put up, but they do not work. It is a waste of time, a waste of money.”
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed by the Sierra Club that was joined by the state of California among others. It found that the Trump administration had misappropriated $3.6 billion in military spending to go towards the border wall.
That ruling hasn’t stopped construction. On Monday morning, KPBS saw construction equipment continue to work on the wall, east of Tecate where the Kumeyaay were protesting
On Monday afternoon, a Customs and Border Protection spokesperson told KPBS that despite the court’s injunction ordering an immediate stop, “construction continues” on the border wall.
“It saddens our hearts that we can’t just easily come together,” said Brooke Baines, an organizer with the group SHIELD, which organized Monday’s protest.
The protests featured chanting and dancing on both sides of the border that was separated by a wall and concertina wire.
“That there is this border wall and all this Border Patrol, interfering between us, when we’re trying to do things together,” Baines said.
On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, it’s important to raise awareness of the people who were here before borders, she added.
“The Kumeyaay people and the native people of this land in general, we go unnoticed a lot,” she said. “And especially on the other (Mexican) side, they go unnoticed a lot.”
Members of the Kumeyaay Nation currently have two separate lawsuits against border wall construction winding their way through the courts.
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