November 12, 2019 / Modified nov 14, 2019 10:37 a.m.

Hundreds protest border wall construction through national monument

The crowd said they were there to protest wall construction as well as treatment of Indigenous sites and the environment.

Border wall protest2 The crowd pounding on the U.S. - Mexico border wall chanting "tear down this wall" during a protest in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Saturday, November 9, 2019.
Emma Gibson/AZPM

More than 200 people gathered in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument Saturday to protest the new 30-foot-tall border wall.

The crowd posted itself alongside the entrance to the visitor center on the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall to call for the destruction of a wall separating the United States and Mexico. After the protest at the visitor center, the group moved the protest to the border wall itself.

The Center for Biological Diversity hosted the protest, but members from other environmental, humanitarian and Indigenous activist groups attended.

Border wall protest The crowd listening to a speaker at the U.S. - Mexico border wall protest in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Saturday, November 9, 2019.
Emma Gibson/AZPM

"We are here today to demand that Congress immediately rescind the funds that Trump stole illegally to construct the border wall here in Organ Pipe," said Laiken Jordahl, the borderland campaigner with the Center for Biological Diversity. "We are here to advocate on behalf of the incredible landscape here and on behalf of all of the endangered species, all of the sacred sites, all of the archaeological sites here that are currently being destroyed by Trump's border wall, which is under construction right now."

The Center for Biological Diversity estimates that it takes almost half a million gallons of water to create enough concrete for a mile of border wall. Nellie Jo David says this and other aspects of militarization at the border, brought her out to protest the wall.

"This is really scary for us as Hia-Ced O'odham, because we do have that scared spring, Quitobaquito Springs, … and it is in danger because they are sucking that groundwater, and it puts our sacred sites in danger," said David.

Border wall protest3 Nellie Jo David speaking to the crowd at the protest against the U.S. - Mexico border wall in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Saturday, November 9, 2019.
Emma Gibson/AZPM

Many other protesters from Ajo and Tucson echoed David's desire to protect the environment, and to respect the traditional lands and culture of the Tohono O'odham Nation.

"I'm here, first and foremost, because the wall is being constructed on relatively sensitive land that doesn't belong to us — it's O'odham sacred land," said Kylie Walzak, one of the protesters from Tucson. "I think that the way that it's being rammed through and just built is hugely environmentally destructive."

Walzak also said she sees the events at the border as a humanitarian concern, and that "migration is a human right." She said she hopes her son learns the value of a democracy by attending this protest with her.

"We have a lot of privilege being able to be here when other people in other countries aren't able to peaceably assemble and voice their opinions," said Walzak. "People who are gathering like this are being teargassed and fired upon, and since we have that right, we need to protect that, that's why we need to protect our democracy. I think it's really important that we teach our children that from a really young age."

Eds.: This story was updated to correct a misspelled word.

By posting comments, you agree to our
AZPM encourages comments, but comments that contain profanity, unrelated information, threats, libel, defamatory statements, obscenities, pornography or that violate the law are not allowed. Comments that promote commercial products or services are not allowed. Comments in violation of this policy will be removed. Continued posting of comments that violate this policy will result in the commenter being banned from the site.

By submitting your comments, you hereby give AZPM the right to post your comments and potentially use them in any other form of media operated by this institution.
AZPM is a service of the University of Arizona and our broadcast stations are licensed to the Arizona Board of Regents who hold the trademarks for Arizona Public Media and AZPM. We respectfully acknowledge the University of Arizona is on the land and territories of Indigenous peoples.
The University of Arizona