Ought to ranchers with agricultural wells be allowed to promote their water? What if it’s being trucked away to irrigate an unlawful crop? Is it truthful to cease the transport of water on sure roads if it negatively impacts, for essentially the most half, a particular group of individuals?
These are the questions that a whole lot of protesters had been asking once they occupied a block of Yreka’s Fourth Avenue on Thursday morning. A majority of the protesters had been of Asian descent and advocated for his or her proper to water. Many asserted that the county’s newest ordinance, which prohibits water vans on particular roads and highways, unfairly impacts Asian Individuals residing and farming in Siskiyou County.
On the opposite aspect of the problem, residents of the Huge Springs space joined the protest to staunchly oppose the trucking of 1000’s of gallons of water from the aquifer. They fear that such exercise might result in their wells going dry and assert that unlawful hashish grows are negatively impacting the surroundings and say accusations of racism are clouding the true difficulty.
Whereas all the block was cordoned off by sheriff’s deputies and a gaggle of legislation enforcement officers stood on the courthouse entrance, inside, a demurrer on a civil case in opposition to a Huge Springs space rancher who’s been accused of promoting water for hashish irrigation was being heard. Final yr, the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors made it a public nuisance to pump water for unlawful actions, however the ordinance did little to cease the vans.
Within the county’s newest try to curtail the transport of water, on Tuesday the supervisors permitted an urgency ordinance that made it a misdemeanor to drive water vans on particular roads the place there’s an abundance of hashish grows. Any truck that carries greater than 100 gallons of water was instantly prohibited from touring on particular routes in each the Butte Valley and Huge Springs areas except they’d a sound allow, which had been to be issued freed from cost for many who had a sound agricultural errand.
‘Can’t bathe in oil’
Hmong activists Sia Lo and David Thao served as spokesmen for Thursday’s protesters, a lot of whom don’t communicate English. Each mentioned they’re not from Siskiyou County, however have relations who dwell right here and got here to point out their help.
“We simply wish to shield peoples’ rights,” mentioned Lo, including his opinion that what’s occurring in Siskiyou County is unjust because it’s not been confirmed that each one trucked water is getting used to irrigate unlawful crops.
“They’ll’t develop their greens or give water to their animals,” Lo mentioned of those that rely on water vans. He mentioned the county’s new ordinance is hurting harmless individuals and alleged that some have been stopped of their water vans they usually automobiles have been unfairly impounded, even when there was no water inside.
Thao mentioned as quickly because the supervisors permitted the ordinance Tuesday, legislation enforcement was out in power everywhere in the Huge Springs space by that afternoon.
Dry wells, indignant neighbors:Big Springs residents protest water trucking for illegal marijuana grows
The penalty for driving a water truck on one of many specified roads is a $100 advantageous.
Thao mentioned he’s talked to individuals in different areas of the county who’ve been rising marijuana for 30 years with none issues. He mentioned these growers had been white and added he’s personally skilled racism whereas visiting Siskiyou County up to now.
Thursday’s crowd was peaceable whereas individuals chanted slogans like “Cease Asian hate” and held up indicators that mentioned “We want water to dwell!” “Siskiyou Cops are Thieves,” “We dwell right here in Siskiyou County, “Asian Lives Matter,” and “Can’t bathe in oil.”
One signal mentioned wells dry up resulting from many components, “Depth, local weather, and placement,” and “Farmers which have water rights have the best to promote it as their very own product.”
‘One thing must be finished to cease these unlawful grows and cartels’
Yreka’s Louise Gliatto, who was standing by watching the protest with others, mentioned she was upset by the scene and helps the county’s new ordinance. She mentioned the vast majority of the protesters had been unfairly characterizing the struggle for water as a racial difficulty when “race has nothing to do with it.”
She mentioned calling the ordinance racist is solely a diversion from the true difficulty – unlawful rising of hashish. And Gliatto worries that cartels are working the grows and are inflicting irreversible ecological injury.
“That is hurting the neighborhood,” Gliatto mentioned.
Yreka resident Steve Radford, who ran for a seat on the Yreka Metropolis Council in November of 2020, mentioned the accusations of racism had been “unfair and completely not the case.”
He mentioned the problems stemming from unlawful hashish grows have blossomed over the previous yr.
“That is one thing that has been occurring for method too lengthy,” he mentioned. “One thing must be finished to cease these unlawful grows and cartels.”
Misdemeanors and ‘unintended penalties’
Siskiyou County District Legal professional Kirk Andrus mentioned the penalty for driving a water truck on one of many specified roads is $100 and other people will be charged with a misdemeanor the primary time they violate the ordinance. As well as, automobiles will be impounded on the discretion of legislation enforcement, since they’re the “instrumentality of a criminal offense.”
“It’s identical to if (the truck) was being utilized in another crime, resembling a DUI,” he mentioned.
Andrus mentioned he didn’t know what number of citations have been issued, or what number of water vans have been impounded since Tuesday. Calls to Siskiyou County Sheriff Jeremiah LaRue weren’t instantly returned.
Associated protection:To curtail illegal cannabis grows, water trucks aren’t allowed on these Siskiyou roads
Non-public investigator Ed Szendrey, who collected info for Huge Springs space ranchers who’ve been accused of unlawfully promoting their water, mentioned the ordinance has some “unintended penalties,” together with higher hearth hazard.
“The day the ordinance was enacted there was a hearth within the Shasta Vista Subdivision,” mentioned Szendrey. “The water truck drivers weren’t allowed to reply.”
The ordinance particularly states that it doesn’t prohibit emergency automobiles.
“One other unintended consequence could probably be lots of the 4,000 individuals residing in Shasta Vista who rely on the vans for life-sustaining water might undergo,” Szendrey mentioned in an electronic mail to the newspaper.
‘They’ve a proper to be upset’
Each Thao and Lo mentioned they imagine a compromise may very well be made if Siskiyou County officers would sit down with representatives of the native Hmong neighborhood. They mentioned it’s upsetting that the supervisors’ determination was made so unexpectedly, with out listening to the farmers’ aspect of the story, which left them feeling marginalized.
“They’re looking individuals and property who haven’t damaged any legal guidelines,” Lo asserted.
“They’ve a proper to be upset,” Thao mentioned of the gang. “They wish to be handled like different Individuals.”
If a compromise is just not reached, Thao and Lo mentioned they imagine the protests will proceed and extra individuals will come to struggle what they see as an injustice.
Water vans aren’t allowed on these roads
Roads the place water vans at the moment are prohibited embody the next: Picard Highway, Matthews Highway, Redrock Highway. Meiss Lake-Sam’s Neck Highway, Richardson Highway. Meiss Lake Highway (starting with intersection of Cook dinner-Campbell Highway and persevering with west), Dorris Tecnor Highway (starting on the intersection of Sheep Mountain Highway then south), Sheep Mountain Highway, County Highway A-12 (east of Huge Springs Highway between Huge Springs Highway and Freeway 97), Huge Springs Highway, and Harry Money Highway.