A hitchhiker stands near a road sign advising the community to stay home due to the coronavirus outbreak on Saturday afternoon in Many Farms, Ariz.
Law enforcement is not checking anyone’s “paperwork,” setting up roadblocks to keep people from entering towns like Gallup or Flagstaff, and there is certainly no gestapo-style harassment happening anywhere on or near the Navajo Nation.
Law enforcement is, however, being extra careful when dealing with someone who may presumptively be coronavirus-positive.
Regardless, the public has taken to social media and has been sharing that roadblocks were preventing people from entering border towns like Gallup, people were being stopped and asked for documentation to prove they are “essential” employees, as well as curfews being enforced across the Navajo Nation
“Do not believe the rumors!! We are not setting up roadblocks. We are not shutting down access to the city. We are not stopping to determine their purposes for being outside or on the road,” the Gallup Police Department wrote on its social media page on Thursday.
Navajo Nation Police Chief Phillip Francisco said the Navajo Nation Police Department is not preventing people from traveling, but did add people need to abide by the public health order that is in place prohibiting non-essential travel.
Undersheriff James Maiorano III with the McKinley County Sheriff’s Office also reiterated they are not preventing people from traveling to their destinations, nor are they questioning drivers about why they are driving on the highways.
Apache County Sheriff’s Office and the Arizona Department of Public Safety also said they were not restricting travelers.
“AZDPS is enforcing the law but is not involved in (those) types of traffic stops,” posted AZDPS Public Information Officer Bart Graves, explaining troopers were not restricting travelers from traveling to their destinations while a shelter-in-place order was in place in Arizona and New Mexico.
On a more serious note, law enforcement has been arresting criminals, only to release them because jails have been refusing prisoners who are suspected to have the coronavirus.
Officers in McKinley County and Sandoval County have said local detention centers have refused prisoners who were exhibiting symptoms related to the coronavirus.
Francisco said Navajo Nation jails were taking all prisoners, especially people who have been arrested in connection with a serious crime. After they are booked, it is up to judges whether to release them or keep them in jail.
As far as keeping people from traveling, that was a hoax.
“There is no curfew in Gallup. But please stay home unless it is absolutely necessary to go out,” the Gallup Police wrote on their social media page.
"Dii, Diné bi Naaltsoos wolyéhíígíí, ninaaltsoos át'é. Nihi cheii dóó nihi másání ádaaní: Nihi Diné Bizaad bił ninhi't'eelyá áádóó t'áá háadida nihizaad nihił ch'aawóle'lágo. Nihi bee haz'áanii at'é, nihisin at'é, nihi hózhǫ́ǫ́jí at'é, nihi 'ach'ą́ą́h naagééh at'é. Dilkǫǫho saad bee yájíłti', k'ídahoneezláo saad bee yájíłti', ą́ą́ chánahgo saad bee yájíłti', diits'a'go saad bee yájíłti', nabik'íyájíłti' baa yájíłti', bich'į' yájíłti', hach'į' yándaałti', diné k'ehgo bik'izhdiitįįh. This is the belief I do my best to follow when I am writing Diné-related stories and photographing our events, games and news. Ahxéhee', shik'éí dóó shidine'é." - Donovan Quintero is an award-winning Diné journalist, who is based in Window Rock, Arizona. He can be contacted at email@example.com.