Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

January 22, 2014

Court rules in favor of Native Youths attacked in Flagstaff Arizona

Racism in Flagstaff Arizona

Court rules in favor of Native Youths attacked at Flagstaff Dew Downtown event 

City council and mainstream media continue to ignore racist attack

By Indigenous Action Media
Posted at Censored News
French translation Christine Prat

FLAGSTAFF, Arizona — A Flagstaff Judge ruled today that Snowbowl ski area supporter Lindsay Lucas, must pay restitution for assaulting two Native Youth at a Flagstaff event called Dew Downtown on February 9, 2013.

“I’m pleased to report that the Judge was in our favor. It’s been a very long year of constant continuances. We’ve all suffered emotionally as a family from this ordeal," said Leslyn Begay, Diné (Navajo) mother of the two boys who were 11 and 13 when assaulted. "It’s nerve wrecking walking into the judicial system not knowing what to expect. As a Diné and person of color you worry it may not go in your favor," Ms. Begay said.

On February 9, 2013, more than 50 people had gathered in downtown Flagstaff for a peaceful Idle No More round dance in protest of Snowbowl ski area expansion and snowmaking with treated sewage on the holy San Francisco Peaks.

The protest coincided with Dew Downtown, a City of Flagstaff sponsored event in partnership with Arizona Snowbowl.

The group formed a circle and were closing the protest with the American Indian Movement song when the Snowbowl supporter rushed into the circle of protesters swinging her arms and tore through a large banner, pulling it from the people holding it and smashed it on the ground. She then pushed further into the circle and assaulted the two young Diné who were singing and drumming. After punching at them, she grabbed at the drums and tried to break them.

Police initially refused to charge the assaulter.

At the time Ms. Begay stated, “I feel if the roles were reversed it would have been a different outcome. If I attacked a caucasian child I would have gone straight to jail. This white female attacked us and knocked their drums out of their hands and may get away with it. It’s racism. The cops refused my request to arrest her for assault. They gave her a disorderly conduct ticket but refused to charge her with assault or jail her for her actions against my kids,” Ms. Begay said.

“This attack and how it was handled by the cops underscores the racism that exists in Flagstaff,” states Klee Benally, a longtime advocate for protection of the holy San Francisco Peaks.

"The Flagstaff City Council is complicit in this attack, they created the conditions to permit this kind of attitude to fester in our community. This is called structural violence."

"This racist attack has not only been ignored by local mainstream media, but City officials have turned a blind eye on this incident in order to promote winter tourism. It is not only irresponsible to ignore such an attack on Native youth, it makes racism the norm in Flagstaff,” Mr. Benally said.

"The boys and I will still stand up for our beliefs and continue to Protect Sacred Sites," Ms. Begay said after the court decision. "This will not deter us from this path. Thanks to all the folks who have been supportive and continue showing solidarity by boycotting Snowbowl and the Dew Downtown event.”

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

They also don't like Mexican Americans. The top elementary school told us all the Mexican and Native kids were transients, OK be racists, but wtf did these kids do to you; they didn't ask to be born near you!!