August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Federal agents and police target Native Americans in three states

Federal agents and police target Native Americans in three states


By Brenda Norrell
Photo credit S.P.I.R.I.T/Peace and Dignity Journeys 2012     
Censored News
http://www.bsnorrell.blogspot.com



Update Monday, Sept. 10, 2012
Native Americans in Arizona, Nevada and Oklahoma have been targeted by federal agents, police and Sheriff’s offices in three different incidents. In Nevada, the ACLU is demanding all reports from the FBI on harassments and intimidation of American Indian Movement and No Bear Hunt activists opposing bear hunts in northern Nevada.
In Tempe, Arizona, Native Americans and anarchists say a typical tactic was carried out by Tempe police and anti-terrorism agents to halt a benefit show for Protect the Peaks. Protect the Peaks seeks to halt Arizona Snowbowl in Flagstaff, Ariz,, from transporting sewage water for snowmaking for tourists on sacred San Francisco Peaks. Already old growth pines have been cut down in the path of the pipeline. News coverage of the issue has been distorted due to local biased news reports. The Peaks are sacred to 13 area Indian Nations, including Navajos, Hopi, Havasupai and Hualapai.
In Oklahoma, a member of the Peace and Dignity Run was attacked by police this week and the sacred Eagle Staff desecrated.
In breaking news from Canada on Monday, Terrance Nelson, former chief of Roseau River First Nation in Manitoba, said the real reason that Canada closed the Iranian Embassy is because Nelson and two Dakota chiefs are heading to Iran in October.
Terrance Nelson is former chief of Roseau River First Nation in Manitoba. In a letter to Prime Minister Harper, Nelson said, "We both know that the accusation that the Iranian Embassy in Ottawa was recruiting Iranians in Canada was a smokescreen, the real reason for the closure is APTN reporting our scheduled trip to Tehran on October 8 to 20. Dakota Chief Frank Brown, Dakota Chief Orvile Smoke, myself and possibly Lubicon Lake Chief Bernard Ominayak were scheduled to travel to Iran. The implications of this trip are that the Americans would go ballistic with your government when Chief Frank Brown does his power point presentation in front of the Iranian Parliament showing pictures of the mass graves from the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre."
Read letter http://www.bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2012/09/terrance-nelson-israel-us-and-canadas.html
 
Nevada activists harassed and jailed, oppose bear hunt on spiritual teachings
In Nevada, the ACLU has filed a Freedom of Information request to find out what the FBI has reported on the Northern Nevada Chapter of the American Indian Movement and the group No Bear Hunt. AIM is opposing the hunting of bears, based on the spiritual teachings of the Paiute, Washoe and Shoshone.
Raquela Arthur, Pyramid Lake Paiute and AIM member, said, “We requested help from the ACLU because our rights have been violated, including our right to the First Amendment, freedom of speech.”
“We want the harassments, racial profiling, false incarcerations and intimidation tactics to stop. We are Native Americans that promote a peaceful fight in our fight to save our sacred bears. Its a sad day that Native Americans still have to fight for our basic rights.”
Read more: http://www.bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2012/09/aclu-intervenes-in-targeting-of-aim-and.html

Tempe police and anti-terror agents shut down Protect the Peaks benefit show
In Tempe, Arizona, Fires Never Extinguished tells the story of how Tempe police and anti-terror agents halted a benefit show scheduled for Friday night.
"A campaign of political repression is under way against anarchist and indigenous project in Arizona, spearheaded by the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center and the Tempe Police Department Homeland Defense Unit."
"The Tempe police department’s anti-terror division preemptively shut down the Protect the Peaks solidarity benefit show that was planned for Friday night, using the threat of a fire code violation to ensure that the venue would have to cancel the event. The Homeland Defense Unit acted on an alert they received from Arizona's main counter terrorism information gathering hub, also known as a fusion center, that a benefit show to raise money for the struggle to save the San Francisco Peaks was scheduled to take place in Tempe on Friday night. “
Read more http://firesneverextinguished.blogspot.com/2012/09/tempe-police-and-arizona-anti-terror.html
or http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2012/09/tempe-police-and-arizona-anti-terror.html

Oklahoma Racism: Peace and Dignity runners targed by police
In Oklahoma, Brenda Golden, Muscogee Creek, reports “on the ridiculous treatment of our indigenous people in Oklahoma and the red-neck mentality toward our esteemed guest.“
“A sacred Eagle Staff desecrated and a runner handcuffed by local police near White Eagle! Yesterday evening our Peace and Dignity Journeys Guests were accosted by the local police in Kay County according to Hector Cerda, the PDJ coordinator."
“Cerda said the runners were coming into White Eagle, they were about three miles away. He was in the van picking up runners to take into the host site. This particular runner, a citizen of the Mohawk Nation, had been running by himself on Highway 177."
Read more http://bsnorrell.blogspot.com/2012/09/oklahoma-racism-police-desecrate-peace.html

To repost this article in full: brendanorrell@gmail.com or feel free to share the link!



 

ACLU intervenes in targeting of AIM and 'No Bear Hunt'

 
Photo Mark Smith
ACLU intervenes after AIM and 'No Bear Hunt' activists are tracked, harassed and jailed by law enforcement after speaking out


By Brenda Norrell
Censored News
http://www.bsnorrell.blogspot.com

The ACLU has filed a Freedom of Information request to find out what the FBI has reported on the Northern Nevada Chapter of the American Indian Movement and the group No Bear Hunt. AIM is opposing the hunting of bears, based on the spiritual teachings of the Paiute, Washoe and Shoshone.

Raquela Arthur, Pyramid Lake Paiute and AIM member, told Censored News, “We requested help from the ACLU because our rights have been violated, including our right to the First Amendment, freedom of speech.”

“We want the harassments, racial profiling, false incarcerations and intimidation tactics to stop. We are Native Americans that promote a peaceful fight in our fight to save our sacred bears. Its a sad day that Native Americans still have to fight for our basic rights.”

Bear hunt opponents said they were watched at home and harassed by federal agents after speaking out. Among those targeted by law enforcement was Lisa Bonta.

Lisa Bonta and her husband, Johnny Bonta, a Reno Sparks Indian Colony member, were the victims of a hate crime and beaten by skinheads in Fenley, Nev., on May 24, 2011. This case is proceeding to federal court.

Then,  after speaking out against the bear hunt in 2012, Bonta was arrested and jailed, without any charges being filed.

Bonta said, “I was arrested without a warrant and held in jail for four days. They released me with no charges. I was drugged in the infirmary and told I was going to be put on suicide watch! Then I was released and driven home by Washoe County sheriff. I had no charges."

"My paperwork says default at booking. I am an activist for our Native people! I spoke using my first amendment rights and they labeled me as a terrorist!” said Bonta. She added that she is not a member of Northern Nevada AIM as stated in some news reports.

At public meetings, several Native Americans from various Paiute Tribes were present and spoke on the record in opposition to the Bear Hunt for religious reasons, stating that the black bear was a sacred animal to them, and that to kill one for sport was the same as burning a Bible would be to a Christian, Northern Nevada AIM said in a statement.

Shortly thereafter, during the period April 2-4, FBI agents visited and questioned two of the Native Americans who spoke at the open public meetings, by arriving at their homes and places of work.


Native American Daniel Thayer was visited by federal agents at his place of work on April 3, and was told that the Nevada Department of Wildlife had requested an investigation because the “audience felt threatened” by his presence, and was similarly questioned. On April 4, another Native American, Raquela Arthur, saw federal agents watching and carrying out surveillance on her private residence, AIM said.

Arthur told Censored News that the bear is sacred to Indian people in northern Nevada.

“The bears has always been sacred to us Natives in Nevada. We are the Paiutes, Washoes, who reside along the Tahoe Basin, and Shoshone. We all honor bears with bear dances. We see the bear as our healers, and to see a bear is a blessing and we would sing to them. Bears have a significant place in our ceremonies. It is like the eagle being the prominent winged animal, well the bear has the status as the four legged animal. The bear carries many medicines that are being taken away from us with these hunts,” Arthur said.

"The hunts are open to hunting in the south of Tahoe, the pine nut hills where many Indians families take their family to pick pine nuts. This can be a disaster since the hunters are angry at us American Indians for joining the fight.”

The ACLU filed a Freedom of Information request on Aug. 22 to find our what federal agents have reported about AIM of Northern Nevada and the group “No Bear Hunt,” said ACLU legal chief Staci Pratt. The ACLU wants to know what information the FBI has collected about people who spoke out against the bear hunts in public meetings.

The Associated Press also reported the story this week: http://www.northjersey.com/news/crime_courts/168983756_ACLU_wants_FBI_records_about_Nevada_bear_hunt_foes.html?c=y&page=2

The ACLU said in a statement, “One of the most cherished values we have as a nation is that those who engage in peaceful political speech, in public forums, are deserving of the fullest protections afforded by the First Amendment to the Constitution. Verbally opposing the hunting of bears should never lead to harassment by law enforcement officials,” stated Staci Pratt, Legal Director of the ACLU of Nevada. “We aim to discover the full extent of the FBI’s efforts and ensure that there is accountability for investigatory behaviors that do not accord with the Constitution.”

The FOIA requests any records related to surveillance of expressive activity during public meetings of the Nevada Wildlife Commission on March 23-24, 2012, and the public meeting of the Washoe County Wildlife Advisory Board on March 15, 2012.

The ACLU seeks any records related to contact with and investigation of Native Americans or AIM members during the period of April 2 -- 4, 2012.

The ACLU also seeks any records related to the arrest, incarceration, and questioning of Lisa Bonta, and the related effort to force her to sign documentation about alleged “terrorist” activity or membership in targeted organizations.

"The FOIA request also seeks any records since January 2005 related to the FBI conducting assessments, training, legal opinions, policies, final memoranda, and other material related to individual Native Americans in Nevada; the American Indian Movement, No Bear Hunt Nevada, and other Native American organizations in Nevada; and environmental organizations in Nevada, especially but not only under the FBI’s Domestic Investigative Operations Guidelines," the ACLU said.

"Some events that prompted this FOIA request were previously reported on by various news media, in the following stories: “FBI Probes Native Americans Opposed Nevada Bear Hunt,” Indian Voices, April 2012; “American Indians Questioned About Nevada Bear Hunt by FBI,” Reno Gazette-Journal, April 11, 2012; and “Native Americans Join Fight vs. Nevada Bear Hunt,” Associated Press, March 23, 2012. Versions of the Associated Press article were published or posted in the Las Vegas Sun, Censored News, and YubaNet.com, among other media outlets."

“It is extremely disturbing that the FBI has apparently chosen to treat peaceful Native Americans who have legitimate issues with various hunting practices and environmental policies as if they are, or are potential, domestic terrorists,” said Dane S. Claussen, Executive Director of the ACLU of Nevada. “Surely the FBI in northern Nevada has better things to do with its time and taxpayer dollars," the ACLU said.

AIM of northern Nevada released this statement on April 11, 2012:

Following their appearance at the March Wildlife Commission meeting, where they stated their opposition to the bear hunt on religious grounds, Native Americans from various Paiute Tribes the Pyramid Lake Paiute Band we were recently questioned by FBI and U.S. Marshalls.

FBI Agent, George Chillito, an FBI agent with the Task Force on Counter-Terrorism in Reno, reportedly stated that he was investigating the Native Americans at the request of Nevada Department of Wildlife game wardens because the “game wardens” and the “audience felt threatened” by the presence of the Native Americans at the March Wildlife Commission meeting.

Several Native Americans appeared at the Wildlife Commission meeting held on March 23 and March 24 (“meetings”), and at the Washoe County Advisory Board Meeting held on March 15, to oppose the bear hunt, adopted in December 2010. Shortly after the Commission meeting, FBI agents and U.S. Federal Marshals began appearing at the homes and places of work of the Native Americans, and questioning them about why they opposed the bear hunt, and what were they going to do if the bear hunt continued, etc.

At the meetings, several Native Americans from various Paiute Tribes were present and spoke on the record in opposition to the Bear Hunt for religious reasons, stating that the black bear was a sacred animal to them, and that to kill one for sport was the same as burning a Bible would be to a Christian.

Shortly thereafter, during the period April 2-4, FBI agents visited and questioned two of the Native Americans who spoke at the open public meetings, by arriving at their homes and places of work.


 Native American  Daniel Thayer was visited by federal agents at his place of work on April 3, and was told that the Nevada Department of Wildlife had requested an investigation because the “audience felt threatened” by his presence, and was similarly questioned. On April 4, another Native American, Raquela Arthur, saw federal agents watching and carrying out surveillance on her private residence.

When independently contacted, one Nevada Department of Wildlife staff member stated that he had no knowledge of any request by the Nevada Department of Wildlife for the FBI to investigate Native American opponents of the Bear hunt.

Mr. Chilito is reported to have said that he was also investigating members of
www.NoBearHuntNV.org who were present at the meetings, and who have been peacefully and professionally opposing the bear hunt since December 2010 by working within the NDOW public process without incident. Many members of the press from TV and newspapers were also present at the meetings, and were interviewing both Native Americans and members of NoBearHuntNV.org throughout the day. A video of the Commission meeting, and the testimony of the Native Americans, is posted on the Nevada Department of Wildlife website.

This FBI intimidation comes on the heels of alleged racial slurs directed at the Native Americans when they spoke at the Washoe County Advisory Board held on March 15th.

The  Native Americans questioned are members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) of Northern Nevada, a recently registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. AIM members call for NDOW to conduct an internal investigation and to make public who made the request to the FBI, on what grounds it was made, and why the Director of Nevada Department of Wildlife supported such a request.


 

 

Tempe police and Arizona Anti-Terror unit shut down Protect the Peaks show

Tempe Police and Arizona Anti-Terror Unit are targeting anarchists and indigenous projects in Arizona

 
By Fires Never Extinguished
http://firesneverextinguished.blogspot.com/2012/09/tempe-police-and-arizona-anti-terror.html
Sunday, September 9, 2012

A campaign of political repression is under way against anarchist and indigenous projects in Arizona, spearheaded by the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center and the Tempe Police Department Homeland Defense Unit. The Tempe police department’s anti-terror division preemptively shut down the Protect the Peaks solidarity benefit show that was planned for Friday night, using the threat of a fire code violation to ensure that the venue would have to cancel the event. The Homeland Defense Unit acted on an alert they received from Arizona's main counter terrorism information gathering hub, also known as a fusion center, that a benefit show to raise money for the struggle to save the San Francisco Peaks was scheduled to take place in Tempe on Friday night.

The benefit show organizers had contacted a DIY venue/space run out of a warehouse in west Tempe, a well regarded space that has hosted a number of shows over the last year, often receiving coverage in the Phoenix New Times and other media. It is a labor of love for the person who runs it, who has a full time job in addition to hosting the occasional show at the venue. The Protect the Peaks benefit show would have been the first political show to have been hosted at the space, it also put the venue on the radar of Arizona's counter terrorism fusion center.

On Thursday, September 6th the venue operator received an unannounced visit at his workplace from an officer assigned to the city’s Homeland Defense Unit. The officer, Detective Derek Pittam, threatened to have the venue shut down for fire code violations if the Protect the Peaks show wasn’t canceled immediately. Detective Pittam informed the person that he was aware that the venue regularly held shows and made it clear that under no circumstances would this benefit show be held at the venue. The venue's future is now up in the air due to the threats of the Homeland Defense Unit, even though Detective Pittam admitted to the venue operator that he was aware that there had never been one call to police or reports of any illegal activity at that location.

Detective Derek Pittam of the Tempe Police Homeland Defense Unit

At least one officer working in the Homeland Defense Unit spent last week locating the DIY venue, identifying the operator of the venue, finding his cell phone number, and where he works his full time job so that he could be harassed by Detective Pittam. They had also decided that their anti-terror unit was going to manufacture a fire code violation as pretext to shut down the show, unless the Homeland Defense unit is regularly enforcing code violations in Tempe.

I've learned that during the workplace visit, Pittam specifically identified support for the "Save the Peaks" as a concern for the authorities. Throughout his visit Detective Pittam made it clear, the issue is with the benefit show not the venue, however the venue would face the consequences for allowing a radical, anarchist, and indigenous themed event.

I've also learned that the venue operator was again contacted on his cell phone Friday night by a Tempe police commander who wanted the venue's permission as the primary property manager to arrest individuals (who may not even know the show was canceled) for trespass on site. The venue operator declined, and was then asked by the commander for the landlord's phone number, which he also declined to provide to the Tempe Police. A friend who drove by the venue Friday evening observed one marked police vehicle on the property where the venue was located, and another vehicle parked near by.

In the short time since word got around about the show being canceled, many people involved with various projects are shocked and outraged over this show of state repression. I was able to chat with Alex Soto, a Tohono O'odham MC from the hip hop group Shining Soul, one of the acts that was scheduled to perform on Friday. In addition to his music, Alex has organized against border militarization on his traditional land, the Tohono O'odham nation, a land divided by the US/Mexico border wall and militarized by the border patrol.

He had this to say about the cancelling of the show:
"The show itself is an example of the solidarity between indigenous people, the Diné and O'odham, and anarchist people who are supportive, it also means that the authorities are afraid of us acting in collaboration, collectively. They’re afraid of all of us coming together, it’s not new, it’s happened before at past demonstrations where we’re targeted, we’re marked for oppression, mainly just by being ourselves and being there.

It doesn't matter to them whether it's an action or protest, or in this case with our talents and our musical gifts to bring people together, the state doesn’t respect that. This act of repression by the police further motivates myself and everyone else involved to push forward and to have another benefit or show, because we know this will be effective, and all we’re doing now is picking up mics and guitars.

In addition, I’d like to express that as a Tohono O'odham person, I have solidarity with other indigenous people in this area, in this case it’s Diné people and the other 12 tribes that hold the San Francisco Peaks as a sacred site. This act by Tempe police, and all the entities involved is an attack on who I am and who we are as indigenous people, it verifies to me that we’re doing our role, in this case by standing in solidarity with the peaks, or when we oppose the loop 202 freeway or oppose the border and militarization because this is what solidarity and healthy communities look like. When we stand together, fight alongside each other, or in this case sing together to defend who we are and what we hold sacred, then fuck the Tempe PD, fuck Phoenix PD, fuck DPS, and any entity that tries to stop this energy that’s building here in Arizona."

When the authorities act to intimidate or threaten dissident voices and movements, it causes a chilling effect, in this case the Tempe police were willing to let a fire inspector poke around in the venue until any little violation could be found that would shut the show down. We also know that they wanted to arrest anyone who came to the property expecting to see a show. This is a direct attack on the ability of people to freely gather, communicate, and organize without the potential of arrest or physical injury by police, in addition to the potential for serious financial problems for the venue operator.

More information will be coming this week.