The excessive use of force by a park ranger on a Native American visitor in a routine encounter was shocking.
Taos, NM – In response to the release of an alarming video that shows a park ranger repeatedly using a taser on an unarmed Native American visitor in Petroglyph National Monument, the National Parks Conservation Association issued the following statement.
Statement by Ernie Atencio, Southwest Regional Director for the National Parks Conservation Association and former National Park Service ranger:
“We are very disturbed by the video footage showing a park ranger using a taser on an unarmed Native American visitor at Petroglyph National Monument.
“The ranger’s failure to de-escalate the situation and his excessive use of force on a park visitor in a routine encounter is shocking and not the behavior we expect to see from our national park rangers. And watching the video we can’t help but wonder if a white visitor walking their dog off-trail would have been treated the same way. Millions of people visit our parks annually, and many people knowingly or unknowingly venture off trail. The treatment of this visitor is appalling, for behavior that is common here and at many parks.
“Every site in the National Park System is on ancestral Native American lands. This park was specifically designated to protect indigenous sacred sites and has always allowed access for traditional ceremonial activities. Our rangers are meant to protect our most valuable natural and cultural resources for all. They must also provide a safe and inclusive experience without fear, and serve all people with respect and dignity. This encounter is far from it.
“We urge a thorough and swift investigation into this violent incident. The Park Service must be clear and transparent about what happened here. The public deserves to know what standards and trainings are set for park law enforcement and that the agency will abide by them. We look forward to reviewing the report findings to ensure responsible parties are held accountable.”
About the National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its nearly 1.4 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.