Filed under: Featured, IGDcast, Interviews, Radio/Podcast
On this episode of the It’s Going Down podcast, we present a special on the ground conversation with a group of folks on the border of the so-called United States and Mexico in southern Arizona. In the last few weeks, a motley crew of local residents, anarchists, progressives, and environmentalists have converged and set up a protest camp, facing down construction crews and freezing temperatures, in the face of an attempt by former Cold-Stone Creamery CEO and soon to be former Arizona Governor, Doug Ducey, to place a “wall” of used shipping containers along the border. According to the Associated Press, the project has cost $95 million, and “comprises about 3,000 steel containers.”
As the Intercept wrote:
Doug Ducey…has transformed a remote section of rugged desert into what looks like a junkyard. Along the way, he has set the stage for an unprecedented legal showdown with the feds. In a lawsuit he filed three days before the installation began, Ducey admitted he had not received authorization for the project but was proceeding anyway.
The governor’s actions create precisely the sort of state’s rights and border security confrontation the Biden administration would be inclined to avoid less than two weeks from the midterms. The situation has left environmental advocates racing to stop the project, which cuts through a corridor that is designated as critical for endangered jaguars. The environmentalists’ options, however, are limited.
In what is clearly red meat for the Republican base, Ducey has cited increased border crossings and the trafficking of fentanyl as justification for the trash wall’s construction, despite the fact that most drugs are brought in through established points of entry, not the desert. Ironically, while the wall itself is filled with holes and is easy to slip through or climb over, it remains a looming threat to migrating wildlife and the existing watershed – to say nothing of the horrific impact that US border policy has on migrants attempting to cross.
As National Geographic noted:
…the barrier will…block critical wildlife corridors for diverse populations of animals, including endangered jaguars and ocelots, along with mountain lions, black bears, coati, mule deer, and javelinas.
Despite the federal government declaring the wall illegal, local residents and activists grew angry in the face of continued inaction, spurring a small group of locals to mobilize. Moreover, the legal chaos surrounding the project has created a situation in which law enforcement has been largely hands off the anti-border activists who have been resisting the continued wall construction over the past several weeks.
As Unicorn Riot reported:
Since Nov. 29, a loose collection of locals, environmental activists, hippies and migrant solidarity workers have been putting their bodies in the way of the machines. They have successfully delayed the work crews for a week and a half, who had been rushing to drop as many shipping containers into the wilderness as possible before Arizona Governor Doug Ducey leaves office in early January.
What began as a tentative experiment in disruption, escalated to a full-fledged encampment earlier this week. When workers switched to night shifts so they could work unimpeded, blockaders started camping on the site to keep watch.
This struggle is only part of a much larger chorus of ongoing resistance to border militarization and construction; against both Trump’s wall, Biden’s continuation of many of Trump’s policies, and the very existence of settler-colonial borders on Indigenous lands. As of this reporting, the protests have been successful in completely halting the continued wall construction and represent a success story for a direct action campaign and self-organization in the face of government bureaucracy.
According to new reports:
Arizona agreed Wednesday to dismantle a wall of shipping containers at the Mexican border that critics said was an expensive, ecologically damaging political stunt…Now Ducey, who leaves office early next year, will have to get rid of the 915 containers from the Coronado National Forest.
In an agreement reached Wednesday with the federal government, Ducey’s administration said it will “remove all previously installed shipping containers and associated equipment, materials, vehicles, and other objects from the United States’ properties on National Forest System lands within the Coronado National Forest.”
Don’t let the trash wall hit you on the way out!