A scuffle broke out between the anti-imperialists and some of the event crew, the Los Angeles Times reported
Activists caused a ruckus at California book festival on Sunday by storming the stage of an archaeologist they accused of imperialism.
The protesters “rushed” at Richard Hansen (pictured), an affiliated researcher at Idaho State University, during an interview at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.
The masked group of approximately 15 people opposed Hansen’s work excavating and researching an ancient Mayan complex in Guatemala known as El Mirador, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The event escalated quickly:
The protesters toppled chairs, shouted “this is stolen land!” and “f— imperialism!” and unveiled a large banner that read “Gringo colonizer fuera del Mirador.”
As stunned spectators looked on, a tussle broke out between the demonstrators and some of the event crew who were desperately trying to clear the stage. One stage crew member emerged with a bloodied nose as police arrived quickly at the scene.
After several minutes during which protesters continued to shout at Hansen while police formed a line between the demonstrators and the stage, Hansen and Maciel were escorted to a nearby tent for event speakers.
A representative from the Los Angeles Police Department told the paper that one person was being held on suspicion of battery.
Hansen told the paper his laptop had been taken but he himself had not been touched or harmed.
Hansen directs the Mirador Basin Project in northern Guatemala and has conducted archeological research and scientific study in the region for 38 years, according to his university bio.
Some have accused Hansen of intending to develop the area to boost “archeological tourism” and thus harm the local people, according to the Los Angeles Times. Many of the locals are indigenous.
However, several Mayan leaders have backed Hansen’s projects, and he claimed that his proposals “are environmentally sustainable” and would supply jobs to indigenous communities.
“I think they were profoundly influenced by lies and distortions,” Hansen told the paper, referring to the protesters.
“We all have the right to express our opinion and demonstrate, but what is not right or fair is the use of violence,” Veronica Alvarado, a Festival of Books program organizer, told the Los Angeles Times.
IMAGE: Idaho State University