Protesters arrested after occupying the lobby of the Ministry of the Interior | WGN 720 radio
WASHINGTON (AP) – Protesters staged a sit-in Thursday at the Home Office building in downtown Washington and clashed with police as they challenged fossil fuel projects and called for the declaration of a climate emergency. Multiple arrests have been reported.
A spokeswoman for the Interior Ministry said a group of protesters rushed into the lobby, injuring at least one security guard who was taken to a nearby hospital. Police and protesters clashed outside the building, and officers used Tasers against several unarmed protesters, a spokeswoman for the protest group said.
Home Secretary Deb Haaland was traveling on Thursday and was not in the building during the protest.
“The leadership of the Home Office strongly believes in respecting and defending the right to freedom of expression and peaceful protest,” Haaland spokesperson Melissa Schwartz said in a statement. “Centering the voice of legitimate protesters is and will continue to be an important foundation of our democracy. It is also our obligation to keep everyone safe. We will continue to do our utmost to defuse the situation while respecting the rights of the First Amendment. “
She said the protesters were taken for booking.
Jennifer Falcon, spokesperson for the Indigenous Environmental Network, a coalition of Native American activists and environmentalists, estimated the number of people arrested at 50.
The protest was part of “a historic wave of indigenous resistance” in the nation’s capital that began on Monday, Indigenous Peoples Day, outside the White House, she said. More than 100 people have been arrested as protesters tied their arms and sat along the White House fence to call on the Biden administration to do more to fight climate change and ban fossil fuels.
The Andrew Jackson statue in the center of Lafayette Park in front of the White House has been disfigured by the words ‘Wait for us’ – part of a rallying cry used by indigenous peoples fighting against fuel pipelines fossils. Jackson, a slave-owning president, forced the Cherokees and many other Native Americans on deadly marches out of their southern lands.
Protesters also climbed a mast in front of the Army Corps of Engineers office, demanding the shutdown of Line 3, a recently completed oil pipeline upgrade in Minnesota. The pipeline will transport oil from Canada’s tar sands to Wisconsin.
Falcon said in an interview that her group had no formal role in the protest, which she said was led by “self-governing frontline leaders” and “water protectors.”
The group called for an end to fossil fuel projects such as Line 3 and the Dakota Access pipeline, as well as the abolition of the Office of Indian Home Affairs and the restoration of millions of acres of land seized from Native Americans.
Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe in New Mexico, is the first Native American Cabinet Secretary.
Protesters who refuse to obey the law and leave the building after multiple warnings can be arrested, Schwartz said.
This story was first published on October 14, 2021. It was updated on October 15, 2021 to correct the fact that the Line 3 pipeline is not yet under construction but is complete.
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