Scores marched last week in Scottsdale to protest ALEC, a national organization whose membership is composed of primarily Republican legislators and some 300 corporations including BP and Amazon.com and which promotes an anti-immigration, anti-union and anti-federal health-care reform agenda. ALEC was holdings its annual “States and Nation Summit,” at which “model bills” supporting its pro-corporate interests are devised. 19 out of 36 such bills have been introduced into the Arizona state legislature.
ALEC stands for the American Legislative Exchange Council. It is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization with approximately $6.5 million in annual revenue. APEC receives significant funding from the Charles Koch Foundation (CFK) and other hard-right groups.
Last Wednesday (November 30), the first day of the ALEC summit, dozens of protesters marched to the Kierland Westin Resort and Spa in an attempt to shut down the meeting. They were pepper sprayed and eight people were arrested. At least 100 police officers had been stationed at each entrance to the resort, two helicopters were spotted overhead and police cars lined the streets. One of those pepper-sprayed was David Ortega, O’odham community member who was sprayed so much with a “cloud” of the peppery stuff that he suffered a stroke. He was initially refused “medical” assistance from EMS but was eventually provided with this and sent to the hospital, which he was released from the following day.
Here’s a video of the Phoenix protest:
On Friday (December 1), Indigenous Dine’ (Navajo) and O’odham elders and supporters attempted to occupy the headquarters of Salt River Project (SRP) in Tempe. SRP is not only a member of ALEC, but holds a seat on ALEC’s corporate board. A resident of Black Mesa, Louise Benally, described in a letter how SRP’s operations are affecting her community and our nation’s archaeological heritage.
“My community is heavily impacted by Salt River Project’s coal and water extraction activities. SRP has extensive ties to Peabody Energy’s massive mining operations and the Navajo Generating Station which they co-own. Coal mining has destroyed thousands of archeological sites and our only water source has been seriously compromised. Their operations are causing widespread respiratory problems, lung diseases, and other health impacts on humans, the environment, and all living things.
“…We demand that SRP & Peabody [the world's largest private-sector coal company and an ALEC member] meaningfully involve the indigenous communities they are impacting, and that they convert to non-fossil fuel based energy sources and address the health impacts on our communities.”
Ofelia Rivas, founder of O’odham VOICE against the Wall and an elder, spoke of how proposed highway construction would devastate sacred land. 16 were arrested, including five protesters who locked down in the building.
As of Saturday, December 3, all who were arrested in the Occupy ALEC protests have been released. To help in their legal defense, including that of a young man named Branson who was present at a December 2 march in downtown Phoenix and charged with two counts of aggravated assault on a police officer, go here.
Keep up the fight to stop ALEC.
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