About 25 protestors stood in front of the lighthouse along the street with signs. Although they did not organize the protest themselves, the Lindgren family were among the protestors.
The Lindgren’s are descendants of the Tsurai village and have been a major force in preserving the Tsurai ancestral lands–battles with the city spanning over a decade as well as court proceedings are included in their preservation efforts.
City Councilman Steven Ladwig was also present. His feelings were that the Tsurai people were not consulted in a timely manner on the project.
Axel Lindgren III is sixth generation Tsurai and an elder of the Tsurai village. His great-grandfather was born there in 1890 and was a caretaker of the village. Like his father and grand-father, he has since followed the same tradition.
“We have been pointing out that the ground there has been moving for many years and they have been trying to hide that and ignoring our concerns. Now they need this emergency move because it is failing around the lighthouse? We’ve been telling them that all along,” Axel Lindgren III said.
“We wanted them to move it about 50 miles down the road.”
Trinidad’s City Clerk said he first became aware of an issue when he started receiving emails concerning soil disturbance that was not supposed to happen on the lighthouse project.
“What you are seeing here is the proposal to move the lighthouse back 20 feet, just to keep those rains from sliding it off the hillside into the ocean–then they might move the lighthouse away completely and restore that site to maybe what it may have been years ago,” Gabriel Adams.
“It is my understanding in this whole process, there has been consultation with all groups involved.”
As the sun attempted to peak through thick clouds over Trinidad’s bay four protestors climbed atop the memorial lighthouse before crews were set to begin construction.
The Sheriff’s arrived soon after and about 4-5 officers stood around as security for the construction crew.
Despite people on top of the lighthouse, the crew continued to drill a huge saw through the bottom of the lighthouse. In the next week or so, a crane will come and lift the lighthouse 22 feet to the new slab of concrete already set in place.
“They’re up there sitting and as long as they are not climbing off or climbing on the peak, they are not in danger,” the head of Wahlund construction crew said.
Trinidad City Manger Daniel Berman explained the urgency in the immediate moving of the lighthouse.
“The normal permit process is slow and public and has a lot of opportunity for public comment and public meetings. An emergency permit is like it sounds–you do that when something needs to be addressed quickly. So you don’t necessarily have time for the normal permit process,” Berman said.
“The best outcome here is that we can find a new home for this memorial that is appropriate. I think it would be great if we can find a spot that everyone is comfortable with. No one wants to be in this type of fight over such painful issues.”
As night fell, protestors camped out at the lighthouse while people stood guard watching over those sleeping.
The head of the construction crew came to the site around 9:00 a.m. The day before he left a ladder for the protestors to safely climb down. He stated no construction would happen that day.
The Yurok Tribe gave people a paid day to come support the lighthouse protest and a little before 10:00 a.m members started to arrive, including the Tribal Council.
“We want them to move it–we just want them to move it further,” said Chair of the Yurok Tribe, Thomas P. O’Rourke Sr.
“Some things have to happen, but that’s why you talk through things so everybody knows. So there are no surprises and so people don’t feel disrespected. I don’t think that’s too much to ask, that they consult with us.”
O’Rourke Sr. said they are currently working to try to get an injunction on the project.
Different speakers took turns speaking and relayed words of wisdom, strength and oral history.
“We are done putting up with this type of stuff. You will not continue to encroach on our ancestral lands and develop over burial sites. Their motto is it is easier to beg for forgiveness, than to ask for permission.”
“We have county sherif’s patrolling the area protecting white interest, not Indian interest. The lighthouse stands here because of tourism.”
A woman from the Trinidad Rancheria was present and took to the microphone to share some words.
“It is sad for me to see the divide that gets created and the words that are being spoken about people I love. I came here in prayer really looking for a solution because I’ve seen the divide in our community for a long time,” she said.
“Sometimes knowing the right thing to do in certain circumstances when they come in your face is hard to do.”
Some of the people who were on top of the lighthouse also spoke.
“We had a lot of support. Some people from the Trinidad community came and asked questions and asked how they could help. They offered their homes, their sleeping bags and food,” the Native American man said.
A Native American woman with a megaphone announced the group would walk down by city hall even though no city officials were present.
“Let the town know we are here and we aren’t going anywhere,” her voice came through the megaphone loud and clear.
“When your village is under attack,” the Native woman said into the megaphone, “Stand up fight back!” the crowd responded.
“Why move it 20 feet before it is removed? We are not trying to hold up the process, we are trying to guide the process. It still has to come out, it can’t stay there and their geology report even says the same thing,” Sara Lindgren-Akana said.
“We are saying the lighthouse can’t stay on the bluff because it will make our traditional path fail faster than just normal erosion.”