Hundreds of people rallied against the proposed Sargent Mine project on Sept. 10 at an event co-sponsored by 70 area organizations that advocate for human rights and environmental protection.
The rally took place at McEntee Plaza in San Jose, in front of the Santa Clara County Government Building. More than two dozen people spoke, representing a range of organizations and California tribes opposed to Sargent Quarry due to its potential impact on wildlife and ancestral tribal land.
During the rally, about 75 members of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band gathered on stage to bless a bundle containing a petition signed by more than 21,000 people, according to a press release, who wish to preserve the land where the open-pit sand mine is proposed.
“The county’s regulations allow the destruction of the most sacred site of a Native American tribe. Can you believe that? Their regulations are fine with it. But we can’t allow that to happen,” tribal spokesperson Valentin Lopez said at the rally. “If this was a Catholic, Jewish or Muslim or any other religion’s sacred site, they would never even consider doing that.”
Among the speakers was Assemblymember Ash Kalra, who represents the state’s 27th District.
“Let’s keep in mind there are folks in this building, there are folks on the board [of supervisors], who are supportive,” Kalra said. “We want to let them know that you have a whole community with you.”
Alice Kaufman, of the environmental advocacy nonprofit Green Foothills, presented a “Statement of Opposition to Sargent Ranch Quarry” signed by more than 100 elected officials, organizations and other individuals.
The statement reads, in part, “We oppose the proposed sand and gravel open-pit mine at Sargent Ranch (Juristac). This land is of immense biological and cultural importance to our entire region, and should be preserved for conservation.”
Howard Justus, of Sargent Ranch Partners, welcomes the ongoing discussion and “multiple perspectives” on the quarry proposal. “We remain optimistic that together we can find a solution that addresses concerns and leaves all parties better off,” Justus said.
The Sargent Quarry proposal is currently undergoing an environmental review. Members of the public have until Sept. 26 to submit comments.