“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
“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.
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.
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.’
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.
‘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.”
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