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Two Arrested As Kumeyaay Protests Against Border Wall Construction Ordered To Stop
Tuesday, September 22, 2020
Photo by Matthew Bowler
A protest that had gone on for weeks at the border wall construction site east of Campo has been broken up by Border Patrol.
The protest was part of several separate efforts by members of the Kumeyaay Nation and its supporters to stop wall construction.
On Monday, just hours after marshals from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) gave notice of the closure of the site to the public, Border Patrol agents arrested two protestors who remained at the construction site, which is on public land. Both protesters were released from custody later that day and neither were charged with a crime.
BLM told protestors that it was issuing a temporary closure order to allow for blasting in a canyon where contractors for the US Army Corps of Engineers are continuing construction of the 14-mile stretch of new border wall. Now, K-rail barriers and a Border Patrol agent block the entranceway to the construction sites, which are on public land.
In a statement, a BLM spokesperson told KPBS:
"Over the last several weeks, a small group of individuals have been utilizing public lands in the area for the purposes of camping and expressing concerns over the construction of the border barrier. The individuals were previously informed of the camping limits on public land and asked to relocate to a safer location. In order to provide for the safety of those individuals within proximity of the construction site, as well as the public in general, the BLM has issued a closure order for this area."
BLM also told KPBS that the original two-day closure had been extended for 30 more days in order "to provide for public safety in the construction zone, which includes the use of explosives and heavy equipment."
BLM had transferred control of the area to the Army last year as part of a proclamation by the Trump administration. The protest site had been a draw for local supporters of the Trump Administration, including one woman who physically assaulted protesters over the weekend.
A legal challenge to the construction, which alleges the government has not followed the law in preserving native heritage sites, fell short of stopping the project in federal court last month. The La Posta Band of Mission Indians is now challenging that ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
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