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Protest of Trinidad Memorial Lighthouse

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TRINIDAD, Calif. - On Dec. 29 construction workers began cutting the foundation of the Trinidad Memorial Light house as four protesters stood on top. 

"It a simple goal really. To stop construction," protester Thomas Joseph said. 

The light house is on unsteady according to geological study done around a year ago. The study showed that the light house needed to be moved before the rainy months in winter. The city granted an emergency construction permit to the Trinidad Civic Club, the owners of the lighthouse and the land that sits on, in order to get the light house move before it topples over into the ocean.  

"We were warned by engineers and the city of Trinidad the light house could fall onto the sacred grounds," Patty Fleschner, with the civic club, said. 

The plan is to move the lighthouse around 20 feet east of its current location as a temporary measure. According to Yurok Tribal Chairman Thomas O'Rourke, tribal members want the lighthouse moved to a completely new location because the land on which the lighthouse sits ia a sacred burial ground known as the Tsurai Village. 

"This village has been here for thousands of years," O'Rourke said. "The Yurok tribal members are the ones who speak for this village."

Tribal members said they worry that even after moving the lighthouse it will still pose a threat to the sacred land. However, the biggest issue has been that the city did not seek tribal input before administering the emergency permit.

"They started breaking ground on the lighthouse without consulting with the Yurok Tribe of what there plans were." O'Rourke said. "We sent a letter and it went unanswered. The city failed to talk to the Yurok tribe and see what our thoughts are."

Protesters spent the night, ensuring that construction halted, but it is expected to pick up again after the New Year. Yurok Tribal leaders hope to meet with the city and civic club and discuss how to move forward. 

Chairman O'rourke shared some of the tribe's goals: "Working together, communication talking through potential problem areas and come up with a solution that works for all of us because we want a good relationship with out neighbors."

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