Video of Trump Border Wall Construction Crew Demolishing Federally Protected Cacti at National Monument Sparks Outrage

; FlowerPhotos/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Saguaro cacti have a relatively long lifespan—often exceeding 150-175 years with their first arm sprouting around age 75-100—and can reach 40 feet in height. Thanks to conservation efforts, the once endangered plant native to the Sonoran desert of Arizona and parts of eastern California has gone from endangered to thriving.

Harming or vandalizing a saguaro in any manner is a class four felony and punishable with a possible 3 year, 9 month maximum sentence.


Unless you're destroying them to make way for President Donald Trump's border wall.

With Trump's wall announcement came news it would be exempt  from all environmental regulations and protections due to Trump's "national emergency."

Footage of what that means was made public as video of crews destroying hundred year old seguaros in the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument spread on social media.

The footage shot by Kevin Dahl—Arizona Senior Program Manager of the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA)—soon drew outrage. Army Corps officials previously stated the agency would relocate saguaros, organ pipe, ocotillo and other types of cacti out of the wall construction site.

But when Dahl visited Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument bulldozers were hard at work knocking down the multi-ton saguaros and other desert plants and piling them all into slash piles.

Dahl said:

"At that point, what they were doing was destruction, not construction."

Dahl also spoke of the Tohono O'odham Nation whose remaining tribal lands lie just east of the national monument.

Hon'mana Seukteoma, an Indigenous activist, stated:

"In O'odham stories, ha:sañ (saguaro cactus) are our people. They give us so many blessings and we respect them so deeply."
"Seeing this ha:sañ ripped out of the ground for this border wall construction breaks my heart. The Tohono O'odham Nation doesn't want this border wall! We don't want this border wall for the destruction and desecration of the land it will bring to us."

And more than saguaros are in peril.

In addition to environmentalists, archeologists and anthropologists are also fighting to preserve the 16,000 years worth of historical sites also in the wall's path of destruction.

As mentioned, destruction or vandalism of a saguaro is a felony. Entering the United States without proper paperwork is at most a misdemeanor and not illegal if the person is seeking asylum.

The series by documentarian Ken Burns, The National Parks: America's Best Idea, is available here.

Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The Senate undertook one of the gravest American political processes on Tuesday when the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump began in earnest as House Managers and Trump's defense team debated to set the rules for the ensuing trial.

On Wednesday, the Democratic impeachment managers began their 24 allotted hours (set over the course of three days) to make their case against Trump. They've cited documents, videos, and Trump's own words to create a compelling case for the removal of the President—or at least for hearing the evidence he's repeatedly blocked from coming to light.

But are Republican Senators listening?

Keep reading...
C-SPAN

Late last year, the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump on two articles:

  • Abuse of Power
  • Obstruction of Congress

Trump's allies have railed against both articles, but the obstruction of Congress charge has come under particular focus.

During its initial investigation, the House committees overseeing impeachment requested documents and witnesses from the White House, the State Department, and the Office of Management and Budget that would help get to the bottom of just what the deal was with Ukraine's foreign policy.

When they denied the House's request, the House subpoenaed the departments for the evidence. Claiming executive privilege, their subpoenas went ignored.

Keep reading...
CNN // David Corio/Redferns via Getty Images

House Impeachment Managers and President Donald Trump's defense team debated the rules for the ongoing impeachment trial in the Senate. The proceedings lasted for 13 hours and went on until around 2 o'clock in the morning.

Hours into the debate, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) responded to a rhetorical question from Trump attorney Jay Sekulow, who had asked "Why are we here?"

It led to a mic drop moment for Jeffries.

Keep reading...
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

This past December, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing where it heard from constitutional scholars and legal experts as to whether President Donald Trump's pressure on Ukraine to open politically beneficial investigations warranted impeachment.

House Democrats brought forth three witnesses who argued in favor of impeachment, and House Republicans brought one: George Washington University's public interest law chair, Jonathan Turley.

Keep reading...
PBS News Hour/YouTube

The White House Counsel is a staff appointee of the President and Vice President of the United States. Their role is to advise the President on all legal issues concerning the President and their administration.

Pat Cipollone has served as the current White House Counsel for President Donald Trump since December 2018.

Keep reading...
SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

In the current political landscape of the United States, you'd be hard-pressed to find any issue that Americans on which both sides of the ideological spectrum agree.

But it turns out that even on an issue as divisive as the impeachment of President Donald Trump, Republicans and Democrats agree on something.

Keep reading...