Lopez update: Mt. Graham activist busted in D.C.

He lost his fight to keep UVA off Mt. Graham, but Native American activist Guy Lopez hasn't quit fighting the man.

On October 14, the 39-year-old member of the Crow Creek Sioux Reservation in South Dakota made headlines when he was arrested by U.S. Park Police officers while protesting the annual Columbus Day celebration outside Washington's Union Station.

Lopez maintains he was arrested "preemptively," to thwart his exercise of freedom of speech. Lopez tells The Hook that charges have already been dropped and that he and a national coalition of American Indians have already applied for a permit to organize next year's Columbus Day celebration in Washington. They want it taken away from the Knights of Columbus who have held the parade for 90 years and who, Lopez says, "choose to celebrate Columbus from a narrow point of view that would have Columbus declared a Saint by the Vatican.

"The Knights of Columbus and their friends in the National Park Service cannot expect us to sit back and allow them to celebrate the genocide of American Indian peoples any longer without a fight."

The National Park Service is expected to make an initial decision this week.

A member of the Dakota Nation, Lopez spent several months trying to persuade UVA not to join the University of Arizona in building a large new telescope on Mt. Graham, a peak considered sacred by the nearby San Carlos Apaches. On October 3, UVA announced it was going forward with the $4 million project.