22 year old Xicana (Chicana) woman Josie Valadez Fraire was protesting outside of the Denver, Colorado Convention Centre last Friday where Donald Trump, in the running to be the Republican nominee for President, was due to speak at the Western Conservative Summit. Fraire was in attendance to rally against Trump and his policies which she told ICTMN were "misogynistic" and "exemplify hatred".
Fraire had brought a bundle of sage, a sacred Indigenous spiritual object often used in ceremony and proceeded to smudge the area and any who asked her to.
A couple of hours in to the protest, Fraire was approached by Denver police, donned in riot gear, and asked to extinguish the sage stick she was holding. Though the object does not have an active flame when lit, police proceeded to force the bundle out of Fraire's hand.
She told ICTMN that she responded to the policewoman “There is nothing for me to put out, Ma’am, there is no active fire here. I tried to explain to her that it’s similar to a cigarette.”
In video footage taken at the scene, friends and fellow rally-goers can be heard shouting at police during the arrest "Let her go. Smudging is Indigenous!"
After being issued a ticket for disobeying a lawful order and summoned to appear before court on August 1, Fraire uploaded a video to Youtube, thankful that there was a record of the event.
I've gotten so much support, it's been phenomenal. I am so thankful that folks recorded the incident. Things like this happen so often and they either happen in isolated moments when there is no-one else around or they get swept under the rug completely.
Despite the incident, Fraire says that she will always stand up for her culture and rights. "I refuse to let the Denver Police and any other folk who are in support of them silence my communities."
I am going to resist here now, in court and always, standing up for my Indigeneity, my rights as a US citizen, and my rights as a human being.