Category Archives: Law

Minneapolis Natives Protest Black Man’s Death in Custody!

“The death of a handcuffed black man in police custody in Minneapolis has stoked anger and frustration among many Native people in the city.” E. Chuculate, ICT

From left, AIM members Robert Pilot, Frank A. Paro, Joe Rodriguez and Lisa Bellanger attend a protest Thursday in Minneapolis. Photo by John A. Anderson

Excerpt: Minneapolis Natives condemn Black man’s death in custody, ‘racist ideologies’ By Eddie Chuculate, ICT

“Leaders say relations with law enforcement have remained strained in the more than 50 years since the American Indian Movement was founded here in response to alleged police brutality.

A portrait of George Floyd is seen as part of a memorial for him Wednesday near the site of his arrest. AP Photo:Jim Mone

The Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors Group, a collaborative of 30 Native organizations operating in the Twin Cities, released a scathing public letter Wednesday condemning George Floyd’s death, along with the ‘ongoing and systemic racist ideologies that continue to run strongly’ through the Minneapolis Police Department.

The letter cites the department’s “long history of violence against Indigenous people and people of color,” including the 2011 shooting of an Alaska Native man at a Native American housing complex.

AIM members attend a demonstration Thursday in Minneapolis Photo by John A. Anderson

American Indian Movement leaders also expressed outrage over Floyd’s death at a news conference in an area of south Minneapolis known for its Native-owned businesses, housing and community centers. AIM planned to set up a patrol of Native businesses Thursday night after fires damaged or destroyed 30 buildings in the city the night before, and rioting encroached on the corridor. 

Meanwhile, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz activated the state National Guard and urged widespread changes, saying it is time to rebuild: ‘Rebuild the city, rebuild our justice system and rebuild the relationship between law enforcement and those they’re charged to protect.’

Photographs from the George Floyd protest in South Minneapolis

Floyd, 46, died Monday while being arrested by Officer Derek Chauvin, who had Floyd pinned and restrained face-down on the street with a knee wedged against his neck.

A video filmed by a bystander captured Floyd’s pleas of ‘Please, man, I can’t breathe’ and sparked a national outcry and protests in Minneapolis that have resulted in three days of rioting and looting.

Demonstrations also spread to other U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, Denver and Memphis…At the AIM news conference, co-director Frank Paro, Grand Portage Chippewa, noted his movement was founded in 1968 in response to police brutality in Minneapolis.

Joe Rodriguez, left, and Frank Paro Photo by John A. Anderson

‘They used to beat us and take us down to the river and leave us down there,’ he said. ‘If we were lucky, they took us to jail and we got medical attention. In the 2000s, they aren’t beating us no more. They are killing us. That has to stop.’

Speakers also denounced the rioting and looting.

‘First of all, as a mother, grandmother and auntie, daughter and a sister, I couldn’t even watch the whole video, it made me so sick,’ said AIM co-director Lisa Bellanger, Leech Lake.

‘We support our community and other nations and know when it’s time to take action, but we can’t condone the violence, rioting and looting. This is where we shop, where our children play,’ Bellanger said at the news conference, which was live-streamed on Facebook via Native Roots Radio.”

Resource Sites for the COVID-19:

INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY:

COVID-19 Tracker in the United States: Story summaries, lists of closures, resources. Last update 5/29/20   Information Here

COVID-19 financial strain? Here are resources in 50 states

If you are interested in Indian Country Today’scontinued coverage of COVID-19, please feel free to access our continually updated Coronavirus syllabus.

(See related: Indian Country’s COVID-19 syllabus)

Where to begin?

After extensive research, the most comprehensive and user-friendly website for finding assistance from a multitude of programs is arguably Benefits.gov.

Basic information.

Indian Health Service

National Congress of American Indians

National Indian Health Board

 

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his wife, Jill Biden, at a veterans memorial in Wilmington, Del.  May, 25, 2020. Credit- Erin Schaff: The New York Times

“What gives me hope is when I see somebody do just the little things they didn’t have to do, to go out of their way,” ~Joe Biden~

Gallup NM On Strict Lockdown!

“The lockdown in Gallup N.M. on the edge of the country’s largest Indian reservation… All the roads into this city on the edge of the Navajo Nation are closed. The soldiers at the checkpoints have their orders: outsiders must turn around and drive away.” S. Romero, The New York Times

A roadblock at one of the entrances to Gallup, N.M. Credit…A. Zehbrauskas for The New York Times

 

Excerpt: New Mexico Invokes Riot Law to Control Virus Near Navajo Nation

“Cities across the country have closed down businesses and ordered residents to remain at home, but the threat of the coronavirus in Gallup became so serious last week that Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham invoked the state’s Riot Control Act to lock down the entire city. The downtown of shops, bars and Indian trading posts is now nearly deserted.

On Sunday, the downtown of shops, bars and Indian trading posts was nearly deserted. Credit…A. Zehbrauskas for The New York Times

The lockdown comes as state and local authorities grapple with one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the United States on the nearby Navajo Nation, the country’s largest Indian reservation, and a surge in detected cases in places near the reservation.

As of Sunday, the Navajo Nation had reported a total of 2,373 cases and 73 confirmed deaths from the virus. With a rate of 46 deaths per 100,000 people, the tribal nation has a higher coronavirus death rate than every state in the country except New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

While Gallup is not within the boundaries of the Navajo Nation, the city of 22,000 serves as a regional hub for the Navajo and other nearby Native American pueblos. Many citizens of various tribal nations regularly drive into Gallup to buy food and other goods.

The refusal to follow social distancing guidelines by some residents of Gallup and other so-called border towns near the reservation has emerged as a source of tension, as tribal authorities say the behavior is undermining their attempts to control the virus.

The Gallup area had the third-highest rate of infection of any metropolitan area in the United States as of Sunday…McKinley County, which includes Gallup, now accounts for about 30 percent of all confirmed coronavirus cases in New Mexico, surpassing counties in the state with much larger populations.

In addition to shutting down all roads into Gallup, including the exits off the interstate highway, the lockdown order directs the essential businesses that are still operating to close from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. Nonessential businesses remain entirely closed in Gallup, as they are in other parts of New Mexico.

A nearly empty intersection in Gallup. Credit…A. Zehbrauskas for The New York Times

The order also prohibits residents from leaving their homes except for emergency or essential outings, and allows only two people in vehicles at a time.

Soldiers from the New Mexico National Guard were stationed at some of the checkpoints into Gallup on Sunday. Dusty Francisco, a spokesman for the New Mexico State Police, said the agency had sent 32 officers to assist.

Mayor Louis Bonaguidi, who requested the lockdown, said he understood that the ask was unusual. ‘However, the Covid-19 outbreak in the city of Gallup is a crisis of the highest order,’ Mr. Bonaguidi said. ‘Immediate action is necessary.’

Mr. Bonaguidi on Sunday requested an extension of the lockdown and the governor said she would sign an order on Monday extending the measure until Thursday at noon…Before the lockdown, tribal leaders complained that their attempts to curb infections on the reservation by setting curfews and creating checkpoints were being undermined when Navajo citizens ventured into Gallup. Residents of Gallup also groused that many people were ignoring social distancing guidelines by crowding into vehicles and food stores.

The riot control law invoked by the governor allows police to issue misdemeanor citations for first-time violators. Repeat offenders could face felony charges…Native Americans account for 53 percent of New Mexico’s confirmed coronavirus cases, while making up about 11 percent of the state’s population. Epidemiologists list several contributing factors, including multiple generations living in single households on reservations and a shortage of running water, making basic hygiene difficult…The fight to curb the spread of the virus in Gallup comes at a time of anger over the Trump administration’s failure to distribute the billions of dollars in coronavirus relief allocated to tribes in the $2.2 trillion stimulus package.

Tribes including the Navajo Nation are suing the Treasury Department over its decision to allow for-profit native corporations in Alaska, in which Native Alaskans hold shares, to access the federal relief…Jonathan Nez, president of the Navajo Nation, said he fully supported the lockdown order. ‘We have many members of the Navajo Nation that reside in Gallup and many that travel in the area and their health and safety is always our top priority,’ said Mr. Nez.”

Indigenous Shoppers Were Racially Profiled in Store by Winnipeg Police

“Desiree McIvor wants to see changes in how retail employees interact with Indigenous people.” H. Caruk, CBC News

Excerpt: Winnipeg couple told they ‘look like’ thieves, asked to leave Winnipeg craft store

Desiree McIvor is in the process of filing a complaint with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission against a Michaels store.

“A Winnipeg woman was hoping to buy a Christmas gift for her grandmother at a craft store earlier this week but was told she wasn’t welcome to shop in the store.

Desiree McIvor and her partner were out shopping on Monday afternoon and stopped at the Michaels store on Regent Avenue West.

‘We weren’t even in the door for about five seconds and this lady approached us and I thought it was going to be the usual ‘Hey, do you need any help or assistance?’ said McIvor, a member of Sagkeeng First Nation.

Michaels said it is investigating the incident and take matters of discrimination seriously. (Holly Caruk:CBC)

‘She said, ‘Well, you’re not welcome here and you guys have to leave.’

‘I was in complete shock, I couldn’t believe what she said.’

McIvor, who is eight months pregnant, said the employee then accused the couple of stealing from the store earlier that day.  ‘She said right to my face, ‘You guys look like people who robbed us this morning,’  she said. ‘It was humiliating because everybody in the store stopped and stared at us.’

McIvor said they tried to explain to the employee that they had never been to the store before but the employee insisted they leave…McIvor said they asked to speak to a manager, and the employee said that she was a manager, so they decided to leave the store.

McIvor’s partner called the store from the parking lot and asked for the general manager to try and make a formal complaint. That manager then admitted the employee made a mistake, McIvor said.

‘They just apologized and said we can shop, get a discount for the day, but at that point, who wants to spend your hard earned money when somebody just basically straight out called you a thief?’

A spokeswoman for Michaels said the chain is committed to treating customers with dignity and respect but would not elaborate on their store policies surrounding these kinds of events, or say what recourse a customer has if they feel mistreated…’We are actively investigating the situation and will take appropriate action as necessary.’

McIvor, a 31-year-old university student, said she’s been followed around stores in the past, something she says is common for Indigenous people, but has never been asked to leave.

McIvor said she and her partner felt like they were racially profiled and singled out because of their appearance…McIvor said she won’t ever shop at the store again, and is in the process of filing a complaint with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission. She wants the store to change its policies so this doesn’t happen to anyone else. ‘I want them to stop treating Indigenous people… grouping them all together in the same category and saying because one stole everybody steals.’

The Manitoba Human Rights Commission said complaints of racial profiling are common and continue, especially in retail and in law enforcement.

‘This kind of discrimination has been a steady source of complaints for the commission for a number of years,’ said Karen Sharma, executive director of the Manitoba Human Rights Commission.

‘Anytime you’re making those kinds of judgments based on who you think a person is, rather than on who they’ve proven themselves to be, you open yourself up to risk, whether that’s a human rights complaint or some kind of other legal action,’she said. 

Sharma said customers need to be aware of their rights, but, even more importantly, retailers need to ensure their staff are aware of their obligations.”

Arizona Border Patrol Car Hits Native…And Keeps Going!

“Tensions flared on Friday between federal authorities in Arizona and residents of a Native American reservation straddling the border with Mexico after a video surfaced in which a Border Patrol vehicle appears to hit a man from the tribe before driving away.” S. Romer, The New York Times

U.S.-Mexico border.

Excerpt: U.S Border Patrol ran over an O’odham man today By Simon Romer, NYT

“The video, which was recorded on the phone of the victim, a member of the Tohono O’odham Nation identified as Paulo Remes, spread quickly on social media after several tribe members and Indivisible Tohono, an organization focused on the impact of border policies, posted the footage on Twitter and Facebook.

Click here to see video on Twitter

‘They just ran me over, bro,’ Mr. Remes is heard saying on the video. He told The Arizona Daily Star that he was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment of injuries from the incident, which took place on Tohono O’odham land about 60 miles southwest of Tucson. Mr. Remes appeared to be standing in a dirt road facing the vehicle when it made contact, knocking him to the ground. Mr. Remes told the newspaper that the driver of the vehicle did not stop.

Leaders of the tribe have expressed opposition to Trump’s pledge to build a wall through their land along the border. Largely because officials strengthened security at other points along the border, the reservation of the Tohono O’odham has emerged as an important transit point for unauthorized immigrants and drug traffickers, leading to frequent encounters with law enforcement and the Border Patrol…Robert G. Daniels, a spokesman in Arizona for the Border Patrol, said the agency was not able to release the identity of the agent involved in the episode; the video seems to show the vehicle speeding away after the victim is hit. ‘All I can say is that this incident is under investigation,’ Mr. Daniels said.

Edward D. Manuel, the chairman of the Tohono O’odham Nation, said in a statement that the victim is 34 years old. Mr. Manuel, who did not identify the victim by name, added that the tribe’s police department was investigating the incident together with the F.B.I. and the United States Attorney’s Office.”

 

Category: Law, Social

Natives in the Hamptons Fight for Right to Catch (Very Expensive) Fish

“Shinnecock Indians have fished the local waters here on the East End of Long Island since before European settlers first appeared in the 1600s, up through its evolution into the wealthy summer playground known as the Hamptons. So David Taobi Silva, 42, a tribal member who lives on the reservation just outside of Southampton village, says that when he harvests fish locally, he needs no commercial license from New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation and is exempt from its strict regulations to protect fish populations.But that is not how the state sees it — and the result is a clash between contemporary rules and ancient customs.” C. Kilgannon, The New York Times

David Taobi Silva, a Shinnecock Indian, stood on a dock within the Shinnecock Reservation in Long Island, near where he received a ticket for illegal fishing.

Excerpt: Indians in the Hamptons Stake Claim to a Tiny Eel With a Big Payday, By Corey Kilgannon, The New York Times

“Two Environmental Conservation officers got a tip last year that Mr. Silva had stretched a long net in a creek off the reservation. They found him at night harvesting an elusive and valuable catch: the nearly invisible tiny eels that wriggle into the headwaters of local bays along the Atlantic coast for several weeks each spring.

These toothpick-size eels, also called elvers or glass eels for their translucent bodies, can bring staggering prices in Asian markets, up to $2,500 per pound in a peak market.

Mr. Silva had been harvesting elvers, or glass eels. The eels can bring up to $2,500 per pound in a peak market. Credit Robert F. Bukaty:Associated Press

They are illegal to harvest in New York, a regulation state officials call vital in protecting a depleted population. But Mr. Silva told the officers that he was free to gather the eels, citing an aboriginal right to fish locally that is based on Shinnecock tradition and ancient treaties that predate and supersede government laws.

Mr. Silva had been harvesting elvers, or glass eels. The eels can bring up to $2,500 per pound in a peak market. Credit Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press

‘We’ve been fishing here forever, so it’s hard for me to understand that it has suddenly become illegal for Shinnecock people,’ said Mr. Silva, who was nevertheless charged with illegally harvesting the eels.

The officers seized his nets. And though the several hundred tiny eels added up to perhaps a fistful, they were still worth $500, said Mr. Silva, who now faces possible fines that could exceed $80,000…The eels have sparked a gold rush hysteria and a related reality show in Maine, which has restricted catch quotas.

In 2016, federal and state agents conducted a four-year investigation they called “Operation Broken Glass,” and charged dealers and fishermen across several Atlantic states with trafficking nearly $2 million in elvers, which are flown live to Asian aquaculture companies and raised for use as seafood delicacies (sushi and sashimi).

Mr. Silva plans on citing cases in which local courts have recognized Shinnecock fishermen’s exemption from state regulations, and federal cases in which Indian treaties were deemed to have superseded state laws.”

Category: Law

Dine College to Train More Navajo Police as Crime Increases on Rez

“The Navajo Nation banned alcohol from its reservation more than a century ago. But that hasn’t stopped people from drinking and in more recent years, doing drugs.The lack of jobs makes bootlegging and dealing meth, marijuana and cocaine all the more appealing. More substance abuse has led to a surge in violent crimes. And the tribe’s police officers say they’re overwhelmed.” L. Morales, Fronterasnavajo police

Excerpt: Diné College to train police officers, The Navajo Times

“Diné College is developing a plan to train police officers and establish a new police academy, according to a press release from the college. The initiative stems from a June 28 meeting between Diné College leaders and the Navajo Nation’s Law and Order Committee. Navajo Nation Police Sgt. Stanley Ashley stated at the meeting, The lack of police officers is a huge concern.

Navajo Nation police officers meet at Dine’ College for an academy status update. Photo: Tribal college

Navajo Nation police officers meet at Dine’ College for an academy status update. Photo: Tribal college

Inspired by the committee’s commitment to this imperative, Diné College is immediately pursuing a historic multi-state compact to fast-track the preparation of a significant number of new police officers for the Navajo Nation, the release states. The college will partner with communities, institutions, and other key entities in the states of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah.

This plan, according to the release, will develop and implement a memorandum of understanding among all key stakeholders which will be centered on providing tailored educational services to prepare law enforcement professionals — as well as on securing land, facilities, equipment, and technology required to establish a state-of-the-art Navajo Nation Police Academy.”

RELATED:

Why Was There a Delay in Amber Alert for Ashlynne Mike?  U.S.News

Gunman Leaves Two-State trail of chaos Navajo Times

Recent Navajo Police Officer Deaths Expose Increased Violence By L. Morales, Fronteras News

Former Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly

Former Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly

“When I was growing up I remember a Navajo hungry or thirsty another Navajo will pick him up and feed him give him water,” What’s today’s world? You get beat up or you get killed. These are Navajos I’m talking about. Society is changing.”  ~Former Navajo President Ben Shelly~

Category: Law