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Native Americans Protesting In Vallejo Park Stay Put

VALLEJO (CBS SF) -- Bay Area Native Americans on Monday continued to protest the construction of a parking lot on an ancient burial site in the Glen Cove Waterfront Park in Vallejo but reached an interim agreement before protesters could be physically removed by police.

Hours before Vallejo police were set to attempt to remove the protesters from the Glen Cove shellmound and burial site, an agreement was reached with the recreation district that has jurisdiction over the site, according to protest organizers.

The interim agreement, according to protest organizers, temporarily allows the spiritual ceremony to continue without threat of arrest.

Mark Anquoe, a member of the Kiowa tribe, said the protesters were told earlier Monday they had to be off the property by sundown.

KCBS' Dave Padilla Reports:

"We plan to stay until the situation is resolved," Anquoe said.

Another protester, Norman "Wounded Knee" DeOcampo, said there were about 60 protesters Monday morning and that they expected arrests Monday evening for "camping in the park."

"This is not a park. This is the sacred burial site of our ancestors," DeOcampo said.

Vallejo police Lt. Abel Tenorio said Monday afternoon that police did not plan to make any arrests unless there was a public safety issue or a court injunction.

About 200 people made a showing at the site Monday to defend the spiritual gathering and protect the sacred site, protest organizers said.

Glen Cove Waterfront Park, a 15-acre stretch of land and water in the southern part of Vallejo, is slated to have its natural trails enhanced and receive a new parking lot sometime this year, according to the Greater Vallejo Recreation District.

But the area, which features a protected shoreline and groves of eucalyptus trees, is also the final resting place of many Native Americans dating back more than 3,500 years, according to DeOcampo, a Vallejo native.

In a late Monday afternoon meeting mediated by the U.S. Department of Justice, recreation district officials and Native American leaders reached the interim agreement.

Key points of the agreement were that the ongoing vigil could continue at the site around the clock, that police would not make arrests Monday night, that the recreation district board would draft a new policy to allow Native Americans ongoing spiritual use of the site, and that both parties would meet soon to devise a long-term solution.

Shane McAffee, general manager of the Greater Vallejo Recreation District, said earlier Monday that the protesters would have to leave the area by sunset but that construction on the site is not imminent.

"We're still trying to work out a schedule with our contractors," he said. "We have park rules. The park closes at sunset. We have been lenient the past few days."

The Sacred Site Protection & Rights of Indigenous Tribes said Friday it has filed a civil rights complaint against the recreation district and city of Vallejo.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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