Arrests Made After Group Blocks Road Leading to Mount Rushmore

Sunday, 05 Jul, 2020

The event drew an estimated 7,500 people, packed tightly into an amphitheater beneath the famed landmark that depicts the images of US presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.

"They think the American people are weak and soft and submissive".

The president recently organised large events in Oklahoma and Arizona, drawing criticism for risking further outbreaks as Covid-19 cases continue to rise nationwide.

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser had tried to dissuade the Trump administration from holding the fireworks display over the National Mall and informed the Department of the Interior that it went against health officials' guidance amid the pandemic.

"Make no mistake, this left wing cultural revolution is created to overthrow the American revolution", Mr Trump said.

Trump did offer thanks to "the doctors, nurses and scientists working tirelessly to kill the virus".

But Randy Seiler, who heads the state Democratic party, told CNN the planned festivities are problematic: That they are offensive to Native Americans who consider the land sacred, that the fireworks pose a fire risk in the extremely dry area, and that the virus danger is real.

Harold Frazier, chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe, said in a statement on Friday that the sculpture on Mount Rushmore is an insult to Native Americans.

"Nothing stands as a greater reminder to the Great Sioux Nation of a country that can not keep a promise or treaty than the faces carved into our sacred land on what the United States calls Mount Rushmore", Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Chairman Harold Frazier said in a statement condemning Mount Rushmore and the Trump event.

Infections are up in at least 36 US states as the country heads into the Independence Day weekend, according to a CNN tally on Friday.

He added, "This movement is openly attacking the legacies of every person on Mount Rushmore, " and that some on the political left hope to "defame" our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children".

The vans were towed away and several protesters were arrested after the police declared the road block an "unlawful assembly", local newspaper the Argus Leader reported.

For the Mount Rushmore event, Republican governor Kristi Noem, a Trump ally, insisted social distancing was not necessary and masks were optional. Some held their fists in the air as cars loaded with event attendees passed by.

Police and National Guard soldiers moved in, and a standoff ensued, with police using pepper spray on several protesters.

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Others held signs that read "Protect SoDak's First People", "You Are On Stolen Land" and "Dismantle White Supremacy".

His political supporters say there will be no social distancing at the event, but masks will be available.

Others are concerned that wildfires could be sparked by the first fireworks show at Mount Rushmore since 2009.

Mount Rushmore was previously called "The Six Grandfathers" by the Lakota Sioux before it was carved with the presidents' faces.

Many other USA cities have canceled or scaled back their firework displays this year because of the pandemic and concerns of large groups of people gathering.