The Latest Excuse for Abusing Native Americans
It's all in the name of Homeland Security
! We must protect ourselves against the threat posed by those Indians, who have been practicing genocide against whites for centuries--oh, wait, did I get that backwards?
Ofelia Rivas, the “subject” of this article, has been advised to refuse to speak to the Press and that her life may be in jeopardy. We are placing the story - with her consent - in the hope that if more people are aware of her danger, that danger may cease.
Sells, Arizona – Internationally known Tohono O’odham border rights activist Ofelia Rivas, organizer of the “O’odham Voice Against the Wall” was handcuffed, roughed up, told to cooperate and then released by tribal police working closely with Homeland Security.
“They wanted to intimidate me, threaten me and abuse me to stop my voice,” said Rivas, who has taken the grassroots voice of traditional O’odham to the United Nations and human rights community.
“It is the voice of the elders, it is not my voice. I just carry the message.”
The incident began when the U.S. Border Patrol was driving back and forth in front of Rivas’ mother’s home, on tribal land in Arizona near the U.S. border on Dec. 27. Rivas began photographing the patrol units, which she considers unwarranted intimidation and harassment of tribal members on tribal land.
Border Patrol agents approached her and warned her that it was a violation of law to photograph the U.S. Border Patrol.
Rivas then began driving to the family’s other residence in the desert area, the equivalent of three city blocks, to deliver a prayer ribbon to her mother. As soon as she turned on to the paved road, she saw a tribal police car tailgating her.
“We weren’t doing anything, but driving in our community,” said Rivas, who was traveling with another woman who witnessed what happened.
After pulling off the road, non-Indian police officer J. Branshure, working for the tribe, accused her of failure to stop when he turned on his lights.
Then he twisted her arms up high behind her and began to handcuff her. “I started screaming because of my arthritis,” said Rivas, who has severe rheumatoid arthritis.
“He started pushing me up against the car and saying, ‘You are under arrest, get in, if you don’t get in, I’m going to charge you with threatening an officer.’”
Rivas documented the bruises with X-rays and attempted to file a federal complaint of abuse in Tucson. However, she was told that since a tribal police officer is the accused, no action could be taken.
“The U.S. Border Patrol has the tribal police carry out their dirty work. That way they can get away with anything,” Rivas said.
In the heavily militarized region, the U.S. Border Patrol is now under Homeland Security, and working in conjunction with the Tohono O’odham Nation Police Department. O’odham tribal members live in fear of arrest and entrapment by federal agents.
Rivas said O’odham can no longer walk freely on their land, explore their territory, as they once did, or gather their traditional cactus fruit because of the fear of the tribal police and federal agents’ harassments and arrests.
“People can’t go out on their homelands, the place they grew up. You step outside your yard and you have to have documents or you will be suspected of being as an illegal and harassed.”