Amber Ortega, a Southern Arizona border activist facing two federal charges for protesting the construction of the border wall near Quitobaquito Springs, was found not guilty by a federal judge on Wednesday.
Following a short motions hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie A. Bowman ruled that the federal government had imposed a “substantial burden” on Ortega’s exercise of her religious faith by closing access to the border road that runs just south of Quitobaquito Springs — an area that remains central to the spiritual practices of the Hia C-ed O’odham.
The on-the-spot change in the verdict felt like “a dream,” Ortega said.
Ortega and her friend and mentor Nellie Jo David were arrested on Sept. 9, 2020, by National Park Service officers just beyond Quitobaquito — about 120 miles southwest of Tucson…Continue reading