MARGARET J PLEWS
PO BOX 20494
PHOENIX, AZ 85036

arizonaprisonwatch@gmail.com

480-580-6807

Established: July 18, 2009
Editor: Peggy Plews


This site is to offer some critical analysis of the prison industrial complex in Arizona from a prison abolitionist's perspective. Abolitionism is an anti-colonialist articulation of a vision of racial and economic justice, one in which we don't submit to or depend on the prison industrial complex to brutalize the "duly convicted" (and their loved ones) as a response to harm, as a preventative measure out of fear, or as a means of assuring social order. It's an optimistic vision which presumes that our society collectively evolves, both morally and socially, such that the root causes of criminalization and incarceration are addressed before we produce more generations of people being allowed to hurt eachother. The current system doesn't prevent people from being victimized - it just prescribes rules for who does and doesn't get to hurt or be hurt in America. That's not a good enough foundation for a system truly based on achieving justice.

Prison abolitionism argues that we don't simply need to shut down the prisons: we need to rewrite the way the rules around perpetrating harm against people and property are made in the first place, so that humanity, not profit (or state "savings", as the case may be) comes first. From re-prioritizing our world, our ideas around what is crime and how to punish it would look much differently...Critical Resistance is a good source for more info on that.

I'm just a freelance writer and artist, by the way, but if you are the loved one of a prisoner and need help, feel free to contact me. Emailing me works best: arizonaprisonwatch@gmail.com but 480-580-6807 is ok too.

AZ PRISON WATCH ACTION ITEMS:

RESIGN, CHUCK RYAN

RESIGN, CHUCK RYAN
Petition by the family of Tony Lester, victim of suicide in AZ DOC custody.

SUpport the Free Alabama Movement!

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AZ Prison Watch BLOG POSTS:


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Federal Persecution of Indigenous Activists steps up.

 
I lifted the following posts from Indigenous Action Media to catch myself up to speed on the resistance in Arizona. I spent New Year's Eve with Klee Benally and a small gathering of friends in Flagstaff, and saw the sunrise from the San Francisco Peaks before leaving the gift below at the entrance to Snowbowl Road. I was deeply troubled by all I learned about the US Attorney's office's latest attacks on Klee and his comrades. 

As many readers of this blog know, Snowbowl is celebrating 75 years of desecration this year with a new feature: treated sewage effluent. Flagstaff's waste water has extended their season as well as the amount of recreational activities they offer now. Of course, it's not only a health and environmental concern, but the spewing of sewage all over the mountain is desecrating a sacred site, a continuation of the genocidal process the prison industrial complex is now playing its part in perpetrating - witness the persecution of Indigenous resisters to the violence against their people and culture, and join us in solidarity actions. 

You don't need a Facebook event page or a whole crew to make your own thoughts on the desecration known, by the way...this was done by my lonesome with simple food coloring and spray bottles, and I set up my tripod so my camera was watching my back. Always make sure someone is watching your back...


 Snowbowl Road Entrance, Flagstaff
New Year's Day 2013


Below are the last three posts from Indigenous Action Media. They do good work there. Please support them every way you can. Info from their site:



Indigenous Action Media (IAM) was founded on August 25th, 2001 to provide strategic media support and direct action to address issues impacting Indigenous communities.


IAM offers media strategy consultation and support in the face of environmental & social injustices. We do this through direct support, workshops, web and graphic design services, documentaries and youth empowerment projects.

We are a volunteer collective of experienced Indigenous media makers & activists that work together on a project by project basis for media justice from an anti-colonial & anti-capitalist framework.



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Peaks Activists Targeted with Federal Charges and Arrest Warrants as Forest Service Announces New Sacred Sites Policy

December 10, 2012
By
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, December 10, 2012
CONTACT:
Klee Benally
indigenousaction@gmail.com

National Forest Service Announces New Sacred Sites Policy at the Same Time That Flagstaff Peaks Activists Are Targeted with Federal Charges and Arrest Warrants 
 
Peaks Activists Vow to Fight Charges and Plan to Turn themselves Over to U.S. Marshalls 
 
What: Peaks activist Klee Benally and others expected to be arrested
When: Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 8:15 a.m
Where: US Marshall’s Office 123 N. San Francisco St, Flagstaff, AZ




FLAGSTAFF, AZ — On the same day that secretary Tom Vilsack of the US Department of Agriculture issued a final report on Sacred Sites and an inter-agency memorandum to work towards Sacred Sites protection, the Coconino Forest Service filed federal charges against four Sacred Sites advocates who were part of a protest at the Forest Service offices three months earlier.

On September 21, 2012 more than a dozen Flagstaff community members peacefully delivered letters to address the US Department of Agriculture’s policy on sacred places. While community members delivered the letters, a “quarantine” was also theatrically staged in the Coconino National Forest Service lobby to protest the agency’s role in approving of an Arizona Snowbowl ski area expansion and snowmaking with treated sewage effluent on the Holy San Francisco Peaks. Several members of the theatrical staging wore white suits and held caution tape with signs that said, “Quarantine Snowbowl,” “Forest Service Kills Native Culture, Stop Snowbowl,” and “Protect the Sacred.”

The four protestors are facing multiple counts (Section 261.3a) of a misdemeanor charge for allegedly interfering with a Forest officer. The statute reads, “Threatening, resisting, intimidating, or interfering with any forest officer engaged in or on account of the performance of his official duties in the protection, improvement, or administration of the National Forest System is prohibited.”

“Not only are these federal charges absurd, they are an attack on freedom of expression,” stated Klee Benally, a Dine’ (Navajo) activist who has been advocating for Indigenous religious freedom and protection of the holy Peaks for more than 14 years. “The fact that the USFS would bring these charges the same day they released their report on the protection of sacred sites demonstrates that they are not acting in good faith.”

Klee Benally delivered two letters to acting Forest Supervisor Earl Stewart calling for an immediate halt to ski area expansion and snowmaking with treated sewage effluent on the holy San Francisco Peaks. The letters were addressed to the Obama administration and included: US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Tom Vilsack, Senior Adviser for Tribal Affairs USDA Janie Hipp, Coconino National Forest Supervisor Earl Stewart, and Counselor to the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Dion Killsback. The letters called for the termination of Snowbowl’s Special Use Permit and the protection of sacred places.

The letters also focused on public health concerns due to contaminants in the treated sewage effluent that Snowbowl ski resort intends on using for snowmaking on the Holy site and demanded a moratorium on the use of treated sewage effluent, commonly called reclaimed wastewater to avoid the “ick factor”, in public places.

“I entered the building with a group of people and requested to speak to Forest Supervisor Earl Stewart, we had a cordial conversation, he accepted letters regarding the sacred sites policy, we shook hands multiple times. We broke no laws. The Forest Service is the one who is violating the law of the creator.” stated Benally. “Myself and others will turn ourselves over to the U.S. Marshall tomorrow at 8:15 a.m. so we can move towards ending this act of repression and political retaliation against us by the US Forest Service.”

The U.S. Marshall’s office is located at 123 N. San Francisco St.. Benally and others are expected to be arrested and appear before a judge for arraignment at 10:00 a.m.

According to the Forest Service complaint, the fire department and a hazmat team were called to address a potentially hazardous spill of clear liquid that had flooded the Forest Service lobby floor after protesters exited. An unknown individual allegedly tipped over a 5 gallon bucket full of what the hazmat team determined to be treated sewage effluent.

“These charges are absurd! The irony is that the USFS has authorized Snowbowl to spill more than one million five hundred thousand gallons of treated sewage effluent per day onto a rare and pristine alpine habitat. Yet they feel its appropriate to call hazmat when a pail of wastewater is allegedly poured onto their polished tile floors? I hold the USFS liable for the environmental poisoning that is set to occur on the Peaks right now,” stated Flagstaff resident Evan Hawbaker.

On December 6, 2012, while addressing more than 500 Indigenous leaders at the “White House Tribal Nations Conference” Secretary Vilsack unveiled a sacred sites report stating, “This report represents a commitment by USDA and other agencies to be better partners and improve communications about Sacred Sites, better protecting those sites, access and provide government-wide training to ensure that there is a better understanding of the relationship those sites have to decisions we make.” Vilsack continued, “While we have made strides in improving services to Tribes, much is left to be done. One step we are taking today is the filing of our Sacred Sites report.”

“The President is insistent that these Sacred Sites be protected and preserved: treated with dignity and respect.  That is also my commitment as Secretary of USDA.  I know my fellow Secretaries share in this commitment.  We understand the importance of these sites and will do our best to make sure they are protected and respected.” Vilsack stated.

(http://blogs.usda.gov/2012/12/06/secretary-vilsack-addresses-white-house-tribal-nations-conference-unveils-sacred-sites-report/#more-43547)

Read the delivered letters here: http://protectthepeaks.org/protect-the-peaks-letter-to-usda-protect-the-holy-san-francisco-peaks-terminate-snowbowls-special-use-permit-for-higher-public-purpose/

Read the sacred sites report here: http://www.fs.fed.us/spf/tribalrelations/documents/sacredsites/SacredSitesFinalReportDec2012.pdf


News Release: Peaks Supporters Face Federal Charges in ‘Politically Motivated Attack’

December 12, 2012
By
Forest Service attempts to ‘Ban’ Peaks Activists from the Peaks to Prevent Further Protests
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 12, 2012
Contact:
Klee Benally
indigenousaction@gmail.com


Peaks Supporters Face Federal Charges in ‘Politically Motivated Attack’
Forest Service attempts to ‘Ban’ them from the Peaks to Prevent Further Protests

Note to editors: Video of September 21, 2012 protest available upon request.

Klee Benally sings before being arrested.
FLAGSTAFF, AZ — On December 11, 2012 three Peaks activists peacefully turned themselves over to U.S. Marshalls in response to allegations of federal charges and “sealed” warrants resulting from a civil protest at a Forest Service building on September 21, 2012.

“It is obvious why these court documents were sealed, the Forest Service wanted to arrest and make an example out of us to deter further protests for protection of the Holy San Francisco Peaks.” stated Klee Benally a Dine’ (Navajo) activist. Benally has been advocating for Indigenous religious freedom and protection of the holy Peaks for more than 14 years, “This is a politically motivated attack that was clearly timed to send a message to anyone who cares about the Peaks from protesting Snowbowl snowmaking with treated sewage effluent.”

Benally declared to a crowd of supporters at the Marshall’s office, “The Forest Service lied in the Environmental Impact Statement, they lied in court, they are lying about these charges, and they are lying about their sacred sites policy. We are being arrested today because we are not afraid to stand up and speak the truth!”

Protect the Peaks supporters gather outside the Federal Courthouse.
The three Peaks activists were kept in shackles around their waists, hands and feet and caged for nearly 5 hours while waiting to appear before a judge. While in custody, plain clothed U.S. Forest Service agents attempted to individually interrogate the Peaks activists without lawyers present.

Forest Service law enforcement captain John Nelson was the only Forest Service representative in the courtroom. Nelson has a history of intimidating and harassing Peaks supporters and traditional practitioners engaged in prayer on the Peaks.

“It seems clear to me,” Benally stated, that the Forest Service is seeking to suppress any further possibility of us speaking the truth for religious freedom and protection of the holy San Francisco Peaks.”

The prosecutor repeatedly requested that the judge “ban” the activists from going on the San Francisco Peaks and to any Coconino Forest Service building as a condition of their release. During the arraignment, the federal prosecutor continually stated that he was concerned about the possibility of further protests.

Attorney Matthew Brown argued that Benally’s religious practice was directly connected to the San Francisco Peaks and restricting his access to the Holy Mountain would be akin to preventing him from going to church. The judge agreed not to ban Benally from the Peaks but cautioned him that if he broke any laws he would be immediately imprisoned until trial. Even a wrongful arrest on USFS lands would be grounds for imprisonment until trial.

The three Peaks supporters were released just after 2:30 p.m.. They re-joined the group of supporters and held a banner stating, “Protect Sacred Sites, Defend Human Rights.”

A status hearing for the Peaks activists will be held on December 27, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. at the Flagstaff Federal Courthouse. A date for a bench trial is expected to be set then.

The four protestors are facing multiple counts (Section 261.3a) of a misdemeanor charge for allegedly interfering with a Forest officer. The statute reads, “Threatening, resisting, intimidating, or interfering with any forest officer engaged in or on account of the performance of his official duties in the protection, improvement, or administration of the National Forest System is prohibited.”

“Not only are these federal charges absurd, they are an attack on freedom of expression,” stated Benally, “The fact that the USFS would bring these charges the same day they released their report on the protection of sacred sites demonstrates that they are not acting in good faith.”

“The final report on Sacred Sites repeatedly points directly at Coconino National Forest and Secretary Vilsack’s callous handling and subsequent approval of using treated sewage effluent to make snow at Arizona Snowbowl.” stated Rudy Preston, a citizen of Flagstaff. He continues his statement “it was the single most detrimental action to their ability to even be taken seriously while doing public outreach to create the report. I feel like the timing of these arrests had two goals in mind: the first was to ban effective activists from Snowbowl as the resort begins to make poop snow, and the second was to thumb their noses at the Sacred Sites report and say, ‘this is how we do it in the Coconino and we don’t care if you want to make good relations with Indigenous cultures.’ Even the Snowbowl Record of Decision clearly states ‘this project will likely have a disproportionately adverse effect on affected Native Americans (p.32)’ and additionally states that the no action alternative ‘is the environmentally preferable alternative because it would not have approved any of the physical, cultural or biological impacts that are anticipated under the implementation of Alternative 3 (snowmaking and expansion, p.33).’”

Peaks supporters have stated that they are undeterred from this attack on their freedom to express themselves and will continue their efforts to protect the holy San Francisco Peaks.

“The natural laws and the indigenous people were already here in a good relationship before the coming of the colonial society who draws law and boundaries.” stated Big Mountain resister Louise Benally who was outside the courthouse offering support, “However we Indigenous Peoples will always have ties with these lands, we will continue to live that way with nature and we will carry on. These man-made laws by the U.S. government will vanish soon.”

Previous News Release & Forest Service Report here: http://www.indigenousaction.org/peaks-activists-targeted-with-federal-charges-and-arrest-warrants-as-forest-service-announces-new-sacred-sites-policy/

More info: www.ProtectthePeaks.org

News Release: Arizona Snowbowl Starts Making Fake Snow from Treated Sewage… and it’s Yellow

December 24, 2012
By
 
 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, December 24, 2012
Contact: Rudy Preston
Email: info@truesnow.org
Phone: 480-382-5288
www.TrueSnow.org
Arizona Snowbowl Starts Making Fake Snow from Treated Sewage… and it’s Yellow
FLAGSTAFF, AZ (San Francisco Peaks) — After a decade of legal battles and opposition from environmental groups, concerned citizens, and Indigenous Nations, Arizona Snowbowl ski area has started making fake snow from Flagstaff’s treated sewage effluent.

Surprise… it’s yellow!

“My parents always told me not to eat yellow snow, this is absolutely disgusting,” said Katie Nelson, longtime resident of Northern Arizona. “ Will parents tell their kids it’s OK to play in it? I used to be a skier and snowboarder, but I am boycotting Snowbowl because they obviously don’t care about my health or the environment.” stated Nelson.

Snowbowl is set to be the only ski area in the world to make snow from 100% treated sewage effluent. This action has raised serious concerns from community and environmental groups due to potential risks to human health and the sensitive mountain ecosystem.

“Snowbowl is clearly disregarding public health by not fulfilling their requirement to have signs posted that the fake snow is made from treated sewage and that it must not be consumed. I checked the entire area where kids ski and learn to ski and I could not find any warning signs.” stated Rudy Preston, former board member of the Flagstaff Activist Network. “There were none posted on the childrens ski lifts either,” he continued.

Although Snowbowl manager JR Murray has stated that treated sewage would be “…cleaner than the snow falling out of the sky” the yellow colored snow clearly indicates that something is wrong.
State law mandates that it is illegal for anyone to consume snow made from treated sewage effluent. Ingestion pathways include the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and skin. Additionally, any “direct reuse” cannot even have the “potential for ingestion.” While Snowmaking is considered legal, the “direct reuse” of this treated sewage effluent is in fact “skiing” and ADEQ is ignoring their own laws when it allowed Snowbowl to make snow (Arizona Administrative Code: R-18-9-704).

“Despite the obvious health risks, you would have thought that respect for our Indigenous brothers and sisters would have been enough to stop this project years ago, treated sewage for snowmaking is an absolute affront to Indigenous Nations that revere the Peaks as holy and I for one choose to respect their wishes and will no longer ski at Arizona Snowbowl.” stated Rudy Preston.

Multiple protests and prayer gatherings have been held since Snowbowl opened last Thursday.
On November, 14, 2012 the Hopi Tribe filed a new lawsuit and for injunctive relief due to threats reclaimed water poses to an endangered plant that is found nowhere else in the world but on the Peaks. The Hopi Tribe requested an injunction to be placed on snowmaking activities until consultation was completed with both the US Fish and Wildlife and Department of Agriculture. The court has yet to issue a response.

The wastewater, which is treated to Flagstaff’s highest standard, has been proven to contain endocrine disrupting chemicals (http://azdailysun.com/article_a53bda53-1369-5d4b-bf1f-cbce10164267.html) and now even anti-biotic resistant genes (http://www.rwlwater.com/antibiotic-resistant-bacteria-genes-found-in-flagstaff-water/). Since the Environmental Protection Agency has no regulations addressing these contaminants in treated sewage, the Forest Service, City of Flagstaff, AZ Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), and Snowbowl continue to call it “clean enough to drink” although it would be illegal to do so.

ADEQ regulations allow A+ treated sewer water to contain fecal matter in three out of seven daily samples (R18-11-303 2a). In addition, according to Northern Arizona University biologist Dr. Paul Torrence, the treated sewage effluent may also contain antibiotics such as triclosan and triclocarban, which break down into bio-accumulating cancerous dioxins when exposed to sunlight.

For nearly a decade every environmental concern brought to the courts by Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Flagstaff Activist Network have been swept under the rug on filing technicalities and no court has ruled on the issues raised about direct reuse and ingestion. In another lawsuit by the Hopi challenging the legality of the City’s contract with Snowbowl, Judge Joe Lodge ruled that the tribe waited too long for the court to make a ruling on clear ADEQ environmental law violations.

Download high resolution pictures here:

https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B9AUXPXEUmRJS1NtaWVMdHBPVEU

Photo credits: Katie Nelson and Rudy Preston


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