On Thurday, November 28th, 2013, a group of people made up by members of the Tohono O’odham Nation, the Anti-Colonial Anarchist Bloc, and various Tucson community members in solidarity with those resisting ongoing colonisation on stolen Native land, gathered in front of the gates to the Border Patrol headquarters at Golf Links and Swan in Tucson. They carried banners and signs and spoke passionately about their reasons for skipping “thanksgiving” celebrations in order to draw attention to the ways that colonisation is being perpetuated by institutions such as U.S. Border Patrol, the Department of Homeland Security, Tucson Police, the University of Arizona, the mayor and council of Flagstaff, and the Arizona Department of Transportation.
Ofelia Rivas, a grandmother from the O’odham Nation, welcomed the group in her traditional language and spoke to the ways that she has experienced harassment and abuse from U.S. Border Patrol occupying her Nation’s lands. She described the ways that the checkpoints on the Nation, and the activity of the Border Patrol agents, make it impossible for O’odham people to participate in traditional ceremonies, and how this disrupts traditional culture. She spoke about how the demanding of proof of “american citizenship”, to people who sometimes do not not have birth documents, systematically disrupts the freedom of O’odham people. She described scenarios in which O’odham people had been held at gunpoint by Border Patrol officers. And as she spoke, a bus packed with people being detained by Border Patrol drove through the gates. Some of the protesters cried, some waved, some booed the agency and its atrocities, while a large banner advocating “¡Fuera Migra! ¡Fuera Policía!” was held up for people on the bus to see, who waved and watched as they were taken away.
Chants to “End U.S. Imperialism!”, to get “Off O’odham lands!”, saying “No Thanks For Genocide!”, and to take down the border were heard by people in their cars at the busy intersection, likely traveling on the holiday to visit family and celebrate what protesters called “a distraction from genocidal violence that is ongoing”. A banner that loudly pronounced “NO BORDER PATROL ON STOLEN LAND” was held high. A list of demands was read, including that Border Patrol immediately leave Tohono O’odham lands and deconstruct all surveillance equipment on those lands, and that they close down ALL Border Patrol checkpoints, especially those on O’Odham lands.
The protest ended with a closing from Ofelia Rivas, and a promise from the group that they will continue to demand accountability and an end to ongoing colonialism long after the distraction of “thanksgiving” is replaced by another one.