Saving Friendship Park

This just in from the activists working to save Friendship Park:

Hola amigos,

See John Fanestil’s email below about the great day this past Sunday at Friendship Park and details about this Sunday. I hope you can join us.

Here is the latest video I took of construction inside friendship Park standing about 120 ft. North of the friendship monument just outside the restricted area:

Dan

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: John Fanestil
Date: Mon, Jan 19, 2009 at 2:18 PM
Subject: Friendship Park was hopping on Sunday, January 18

For the past six months a coalition of community organizations have been hosting weekly communion services at Friendship Park, San Diego’s historic border park overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It really is very simple: we go to the border, make new friends with people on the other side of the international boundary, and then share communion together. You would think it was rather un-controversial.

It has become the source of controversy, though, because Customs and Border Patrol have declared their intent to eliminate all public access to Friendship Park. Private contractors are hard at work on a massive construction project that has seen them build a vast system of triple walls and fences across the canyons and mesa tops here at the San Diego coast. They began walling off Friendship Park on Christmas Eve and are now working on an extremely fast timeline, unencumbered by democratic niceties like environmental reviews and consultations with local authorities, thanks to the waiver of dozens of laws by DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff. You can learn more about the border fence here in San Diego by checking out the resources available at this link: http://www.foundation4change.org/borderfence.php.

Yesterday about 40 people gathered at the appointed hour and place — 2:30 p.m., Sunday afternoon, at the entrance to Border Field State Park (see the end of this e-mail for directions). The hike in to Friendship Park takes about 30 minutes. Yesterday it was hot – you would have thought it was a summer day.

Once again, as we hiked south on the beach and approached the border fence, we were greeted by an enthusiastic crowd on the Mexican side. We marched to the top of Monument Mesa and I prepared to serve communion, accompanied by my friend and colleague Myron Wingfield. As always, I emphasized that the communion ceremony is open to any who would want to participate, but there is no expectation or pressure for anyone to do so. People on both sides of the border are welcome to listen in and observe if they prefer. Religiously-speaking, it is a very low-key atmosphere.

Politically, by contrast, the environment is charged. We are not supposed to meet on top of Monument Mesa any more. It is now federal property and has been declared a construction zone, as the contractors are now blasting out concrete in anticipation of building the new wall. Last week we were told to leave and didn’t. This week the authorities simply ignored us and let us do our thing. Here is how Dan Watman of the Border Meetup Group described it:

“Border Patrol seemed antsy about our presence, but made no attempt to stop us from going up to the monument. About 6 of us went into the circle and after about 10 min just about 20-30 more stepped over the meshing to join us. Enrique (Morones) read a cool poem and John gave a beautiful touching sermon. There were probably around 50 people on the Mexican side that joined in the communion and several other on-lookers. … It was a beautiful day and there were some dance performers who concentrate on border themes performing on the beach from both sides of the border while we did the communion.”

All this, as Dan noted, was against the backdrop of noticeable advancement in the construction atop Monument Mesa.

I’ve learned that no two days are alike at Friendship Park, and I don’t know what next Sunday will hold. But for several weeks running the same thing has happened in this one regard. Hiking to the fence we have met people who have been turned back by Border Patrol, told that they can’t approach the border, told that the park is now off-limits. Some of them have come long distances to see their loved ones at this location – for instance, the couple featured in the Los Angeles Times ten days ago (http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-tobar6-pg,0,7275586.photogallery). But on our way to the fence we collect these people and say, “Come with us! We’re going to the fence!” And once we cross the lines that Customs and Border Patrol have drawn in the sand, others feel free to follow.

If you’d like to flip through some photos of yesterday’s gathering, check out this collection compliments of Jill Holslin, another “Friend of Friendship Park” — http://picasaweb.google.com/Jholslin01/FriendshipParkContestingTheCultureOfViolence#.

And if you’d like to join us next Sunday, we’ll meet up at 2:30 p.m. at the entrance to Border Field State Park. Take Hwy 5 South, exit Dairy Mart Road and turn west. Follow the winding road as far as you can go. Bring ID document residency or citizenship.

Adelante,

John Fanestil

Executive Director

Foundation for Change

http://www.foundation4change.org

(619) 692-0527

About Kinsee Morlan

Arts and web editor at San Diego CityBeat. Interested in art and the Tijuana/San Diego border.
This entry was posted in Border issues, Events. Bookmark the permalink.

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