Man facing charges after fireworks discharged at Justice for Our Stolen Children camp

Teepees are seen at the Justice for Our Stolen Children camp near the Saskatchewan Legislative Building in Regina. June 27, 2018, THE CANADIAN PRESS

A man faces charges after fireworks were discharged towards the Justice for Our Stolen Children camp in Regina.

According to a news release, police were sent to the protest camp, located in Wascana Park at 2 a.m. on Sunday, after a man got out of a vehicle parked at the legislative building and discharged a Roman candle, which shot multiple flammable projectiles at the camp then fled in the vehicle.

Police said no one was injured as a result of the incident and the camp of teepees did not sustain any damage.

Twenty-five year-old Brent Holland, of Yorkton is charged with mischief under $5,000, uttering threats, assault with a weapon and arson with disregard for human life.

Holland was released from custody and will appear in provincial court in Regina on Sept. 17.

The camp has been set up in the park since late February to draw attention to racial injustice and the disproportionate number of Indigenous children apprehended by child-welfare workers

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Southern Alberta doctor under fire for alleged Racist confrontation with Indigenous people

Witnesses say Dr. Lloyd Clarke told a group of Indigenous people outside the Reddi Mart in downtown Cardston to “get a job.” (Google Maps)

Doctor told Indigenous people who are homeless to “get a job” and asked if they wanted prescriptions for Tylenol 3

A southern Alberta doctor is engulfed in controversy after he allegedly told a group of Indigenous people who are homeless to “get a job” and sarcastically asked them if they wanted prescriptions for the addictive painkiller Tylenol 3.

Alberta Health Services has placed Dr. Lloyd Clarke on administrative leave from his position as the associate medical director for the southern region of the province, while the health authority investigates the incident.

A lawyer representing two of the Indigenous people involved filed a complaint with the regulator and watchdog for physicians, alleging Clarke’s “racism against my community members impairs his ability to treat us as patients in a proper way.”

After reviewing the case, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta rejected the complaint. But Ingrid Hess, the lawyer and a First Nations advocate, is appealing.

Hess says the alleged incident, which witnesses say took place outside a Cardston convenience store in May, has triggered outrage among members of the neighbouring Blood Tribe and inspired efforts to document other claims of racism in the region.

Clarke doesn’t confirm or deny

The lawyer says she didn’t witness it, but took a statement from some of the people involved, and filed the complaint on their behalf. She also notified Alberta Health Services.

Clarke, who practises at the Cardston Health Centre’s emergency department and at a separate clinic in the town, didn’t confirm or deny the incident occurred when reached by a reporter.

“I’m aware that the appropriate bodies are investigating this and I’m co-operating with that,” he said.

When asked in a follow-up interview to comment on allegations he has racist views toward Indigenous people, Clarke said, “It’s not appropriate for me to comment. I’m working with the investigation to go through this in the proper channels. I am co-operating completely with them.”

According to AHS, if any of the First Nations people involved in the alleged incident seek care at Cardston’s emergency room, they don’t have to receive care from Clarke, unless they have life-threatening problems that require immediate attention.

“There is no excuse for the comments that were allegedly made in this instance, and we want to assure those involved in this incident that this sort of alleged language in no way reflects the beliefs or values of AHS,” the health authority said in a statement.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons, which regulates the medical profession and investigates complaints against doctors, told CBC News Clarke’s alleged behaviour is “damaging” and “appears to show poor judgment.”

Ingrid Hess filed this complaint with the College of Physicians and Surgeons. (CBC)

But the college said it doesn’t believe Clarke is prejudiced toward Indigenous people, concluding the incident didn’t amount to professional misconduct.

In a letter responding to Hess’s complaint, the college said it “cannot dictate the behaviour of what a physician does outside a clinical setting, excluding extreme circumstances.”

‘Blatant biases and negative views’

Hess has appealed the decision, calling for an investigation into whether “Dr. Clarke’s blatant biases and negative views of Indigenous people might influence his care of the Indigenous patients he treats, especially if they are drug-addicted, alcoholic or homeless.”

Clarke works in Cardston, where an estimated one in seven residents is Indigenous.

Nicole Gros Ventre Boy, one of two people Hess is helping with the complaint, told CBC News she was sitting outside a Cardston convenience store in May when she claims Clarke emerged from the exit.

“He stood there and he told us, ‘You guys should get a job’ … then he’s like, ‘My family are scared to come and shop here. You guys just bother people for money,'” she recalled.

‘I just felt like he was racist’

“Afterwards, he said, ‘Should I write you a prescription of Tylenol 3s?’ and he put his hand out and acted like he was writing.”

Gros Ventre Boy, who received health care from Clarke in the past, said the comments hurt her.

“I just felt like he was racist, like he didn’t like natives,” she said. “There was no reason for him to come up to us and talk. We were not doing anything.”

Gros Ventre Boy’s account lines up with the description of events outlined in Hess’s complaint. It’s also consistent with how Scott Many Grey Horses remembers the confrontation.

Many Grey Horses said he was not involved with the group, but was walking by when he heard Clarke say, “All you people need to get jobs.” In an interview with CBC News, Many Grey Horses said he didn’t hear the comment about Tylenol 3, but he intervened in defence of the group.

Downtown Cardston. (Google Street View)

Clarke called police

He said he was worried at the time the confrontation could come to blows, though Gros Ventre Boy said she didn’t believe there was any risk of violence.

“I said, ‘You need to get out of here; you’re just here to cause trouble,'” Many Grey Horses recalled.

The college said in its letter to Hess that Clarke had called police.

Hess said she has known most of the Indigenous people involved for most of her career and described them as having “overlapping social disadvantages,” including homelessness, poverty and chronic health conditions.

She said the allegations concerned her, especially because of the social and power imbalance between a doctor and people who are homeless.

“The people that we’re talking about were living in tents on the edge of town,” she said. “Those aren’t the kind of people who can just go out and get a job at the Reddi Mart in downtown Cardston.”

‘Concerns like this are damaging’

Steve Buick, spokesman for the college, said the regulator didn’t investigate whether the alleged incident actually happened. He said it reviewed the incident to determine whether the claims, if true, violated the college’s code of conduct and standards of practice.

“We have no doubt that there is an issue here of behaviour, and we will be telling the doctor that concerns like this are damaging and that he needs to avoid them in the future,” Buick said.

“We cannot have a physician practising in a community where the community has good reason to believe that he or she is racist or has other discriminatory views,” he said. “But let’s be clear: on the basis of this complaint alone, our judgment in the first phase of review is we don’t think it necessarily comes up to that standard.

“We don’t think that this complaint, on its face, would justify sanctioning a physician or removing him from practice.”

Buick said Hess can escalate her complaint to a second stage in the college’s process — an appeal to its complaint review committee — if she feels the first decision was unreasonable. She has done that.

“It will be up to the physician in this case to assure patients when he sees them face-to-face, if they’re concerned about it at all, that he does not have views that should disqualify him from treating them,” he said.

Dr. Lloyd Clarke, who is accused of making discriminatory comments toward Indigenous people in May, works at the Cardston clinic. (CBC)

Hess calls case ‘extreme’

Buick said the college’s priority when assessing complaints is the behaviour of physicians when they are treating patients. Still, he said there have been “extreme” cases in which the college took action against doctors for their behaviour outside the clinical setting.

He cited the case of Dr. Fred Janke, whom the college said would not be allowed to continue practising while he faces child exploitation charges.

Hess said she believes a doctor “exhibiting biased and discriminatory conduct toward a vulnerable and identifiable group of people is pretty extreme.”

Clarke’s alleged comments were the catalyst that inspired several members of the Blood Tribe to set up camp near the Cardston border in June to document claims of racism. The group said its goal is to raise awareness about prejudice against First Nations people, and to build healthier relationships between the two communities.

Last week, the group dismantled its camp along Highway 5, the dividing line between the town and reserve, after documenting a number of other alleged cases, which members plan to pass along to authorities, including the Alberta Human Rights Commission.

Members of the Blood Tribe held a peace camp along the reserve’s border with Cardston to document cases of alleged racism. The group dismantled its camp last week. (CBC)

‘No excuse’ for alleged comments, AHS says

AHS said it’s also continuing to investigate the alleged incident involving Clarke, “and will take any necessary action once that investigation is complete.”

“We know that trust is a significant barrier to First Nations people accessing the health-care system, and acknowledge that institutional racism and stereotyping have kept people from getting the care they need,” AHS said in its statement.

“We also know that the relationship between AHS and First Nations people must continue to improve, and we are committed to building, nurturing and growing those relationships.”

CBC News

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Family of Colten Boushie files lawsuits against Gerald Stanley and RCMP

Gerald Stanley walks out of North Battleford provincial court after his first preliminary hearing on April 3, 2017. (Saskatoon StarPhoenix)

Almost two years after the fatal shooting of Colten Boushie his family has filed lawsuits against Gerald Stanley and the RCMP seeking total damages of more than $1.86 million.

The Star Phoenix reports, Boushie’s mother, Debbie Baptiste, and two of Boushie’s brothers are named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the RCMP. Baptiste is the lone plaintiff in the lawsuit against Stanley.

Boushie, 22, was shot and killed on Aug. 9, 2016 while sitting in the driver’s seat of an SUV that was driven onto Stanley’s farm near Biggar, Sask.

In February, Stanley was found not guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Boushie.

According to a statement of claim filed late Wednesday in Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench, the lawsuit against Stanley claims the “death of Colten Boushie is a direct result of the negligent, reckless or intentional acts of the defendant, Gerald Stanley.”

In the suit, the family claims Stanley failed to assess or monitor the risk of the situation and failed to contact police to deal with any potential risk. In the lawsuit, the family claims Stanley then used “excessive force when it was uncalled for,” shot Boushie at “point blank range” in the back of his head when he wasn’t a threat and did not administer or call for any medical assistance. It also says that Stanley’s wife, Leesa, is a registered nurse and didn’t take any action to provide life-saving measures.

The suit is seeking over $400,000, including $30,000 in damages to be paid directly to Baptiste, $20,000 in funeral expenses, $60,000 in grief counselling, $60,000 in out-of-pocket expenses, $100,000 in lost employment earnings for Baptiste, and $200,000 in “aggravated, exemplary and punitive damages to be proven at trial.”

Debbie Baptiste, the mother of Colten Boushie, holds a photo of him outside provincial court in North Battleford on April 6, 2017. (CTV Saskatoon)

A separate court filing by the family is also calling for $1.45 million in damages to be paid by members of the RCMP.

The lawsuit lists seven RCMP officers as defendants, along with the Attorney General of Canada, and alleges they conducted an “unlawful search” of Baptiste’s home the night of Boushie’s shooting.

The plaintiffs claim the RCMP “deliberately engaged in discrimination by subjecting three proud members of the Red Pheasant First Nation to ridicule, unlawful searches, and humiliating breath tests.”

None of the claims made in the lawsuit have been proven in a court of law.

The defendants have 30 days to respond.

In a statement to media, RCMP said “Our sympathies remain with the family and friends of Colten Boushie, who have suffered such a tragic loss.”

“We are fully cooperating with the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (CRCC). The CRCC is investigating the death of Mr. Boushie and the events that followed, including the next of kin notification, the search of the family residence, and the dissemination of media releases. The RCMP’s handling of an initial complaint filed by a family member is also under review by the CRCC,” the statement reads.

RCMP said they had no further comment on the lawsuit, since it was before the courts.

Two women charged with inciting hatred after social media post called for “shoot an Indian day”

Two women have been arrested and charged after racist comments on a Facebook page called for “a 24-hour purge” and a “shoot an Indian day.”

RCMP say the women, along with another who has not yet been arrested, posted hateful comments online after some vehicles were vandalized.

A Manitoba woman, Destine Spiller ranted on a Flin Flon Facebook page, blaming the local First Nations community for damage to her car after it was spray-painted with large, black lettering on all sides.

(Destine Spiller/Facebook)

Spiller’s post escalated into racist and threatening language against First Nations people.

In the comments, she said that she was going to “kill some Indians when I get home” and talked about putting together a day to shoot “Indians.”

A second woman agreed with her, and suggested getting a shotgun and alcohol.

A Facebook user under the name Raycine Chaisson suggested “a 24-hour purge.” Destine Spiller commented “it’s time to keep the animals locked up or have a shoot an indian day!”

According to CTV News, RCMP haven’t released the names of the women but said a 25-year-old from Denare Beach, Sask and a 32-year-old from Flin Flon, are facing charges of uttering threats and public incitement of hatred.

The same charges are pending against a third person. All three suspects are cooperating with police.

Urban Trendz Hair Studio, a salon in Flin Flon, posted on Facebook that it had let go of an employee following the social media posts.

“Our business has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to any form of discrimination or racism. The person in question is no longer employed by us.”

The other woman’s Facebook account stated she worked in Flin Flon as a mentor and as a substitute teacher in Creighton, Sask.

The Flin Flon and Creighton school divisions said they do not tolerate racist behavior and that the woman hasn’t worked with the divisions for “some time.”

The first woman apologized the next day, saying she was angry and upset about her vehicle being tagged.

However, several people had already called RCMP about the women’s comments.

Both women have since deleted their Facebook accounts.

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) is applauding RCMP actions in investigating and arresting the two women.

Redwolf Pope accused of sexual assaults fighting extradition to New Mexico

Photo provided by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s office shows Redwolf Pope arrested in Phoenix. (Via AP)

Police seek additional victims after Redwolf Pope arrested on sexual assault charges 

Redwolf Pope has been arrested in Phoenix, Arizona after a warrant was issued by the Santa Fe Police Department.

Santa Fe police issued an arrest warrant Monday for Pope, 41, after investigating him for more than a month on suspicion of sex crimes. The warrant accuses Pope, who police say has residences in Seattle and Santa Fe, of sexually assaulting females who appeared to have been slipped a date-rape drug.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports, local police have been investigating these and other allegations since at least early June, when Pope’s roommates told officers they had found videos that appear to show him raping unconscious women. The roommates also told police they believe he planted hidden cameras in the bathroom and other rooms of an apartment they share with him in Santa Fe and one where they sometimes stay in Seattle.

KING 5 says, Pope would also rent his Seattle apartment on Airbnb. The company has removed Pope as a host and reached out to law enforcement to offer help with the investigation.

A woman from the Seattle area told police in that city earlier this month that she believes Pope raped her in Santa Fe during a visit last year.

He was taken into custody late Tuesday night and is being held at the Maricopa County jail without bond.

Pope, is a activist who spent time at Standing Rock fighting the Dakota Access pipeline reports nativenewsonline.net. He was featured in a TEDxSeattle talking about his activism called “Lessons of Courage from Standing Rock.”

Lessons of courage from Standing Rock | RedWolf Pope | TEDxSeattle. TEDx Talks

TEDxSeattle has since removed the video of his presentation from the web.

The Seattle Times reports Pope’s LinkedIn page lists him as an attorney, however Tulalip Tribal Court Director Wendy Church said that he doesn’t work as a lawyer for the tribe and a spokeswoman for the Washington State Bar Association confirmed that Pope is not a licensed lawyer in the state.

Pope is identified in other news media as a member of the Tlingit tribe of the Pacific Northwest.

The tribe says he is not an enrolled tribal citizen.

Although Pope has been showing up at American Indian events for decades he is not Native American.

Pope is charged in Santa Fe with rape, aggravated battery, false imprisonment and other crimes.

Police in both Seattle and Santa Fe are investigating the case.

Pope has not faced any other criminal charges in New Mexico.

Juan Ríos, the public information officer for the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office, said Friday that Pope is fighting extradition from Arizona to New Mexico.

The Seattle police are seeking additional victims and ask anyone with information on the case to contact the department’s Sexual Assault Unit.

Story updated July 30, 2018

Man Shot and Killed by RCMP during ‘Standoff’ on Frog Lake First Nation

ASIRT investigating rcmp shooting at Frog Lake reserve 

A man is dead after he was shot by RCMP during a ‘standoff’ at the Frog Lake First Nation reserve in Alberta.

According to media reports Elk Point RCMP attempted to arrest a man at a family member’s home on the reserve around 10 a.m., Thursday. A standoff followed that lasted for several hours despite attempts to establish contact by an RCMP negotiator. Late in the evening a confrontation occurred which resulted in officers discharging their firearms. The man was struck by gunfire and fatally wounded.

Investigators recovered a sawed-off firearm at the scene. No officers were injured and police said there was no concern for public safety.

The RCMP remains the lead investigating agency on the events leading up to the shooting. The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) has been directed to investigate the circumstances around the death of the man and police conduct.

The RCMP would not comment further on the incident.

Frog Lake First Nation is located about 207 kilometres east of Edmonton.

Red Fawn Fallis Sentenced to 57 months in Federal prison

Red Fawn Fallis

Red Fawn Fallis has been sentenced for her role in a shooting incident during the Dakota Access pipeline protests.

According to media reports, Fallis, 39, was sentenced Wednesday to four years and nine months in federal prison.

Fallis, a member of the Oglala Sioux tribe, was accused of firing a handgun three times while resisting arrest on Oct. 27, 2016. No one was hurt.

She pleaded guilty Jan. 22 to civil disorder and illegal possession of a gun by a convicted felon. Prosecutors agreed to drop another weapons charge.

Prosecutors were recommending seven years in prison, though U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland could have gone as high as 15 years.

Fallis did not get credit for time served in a halfway house after she was arrested in January for violating her pretrial release agreement. Judge Hovland says he is recommending placement in Phoenix or Tucson, Ariz.

Fallis is also sentenced to three years of supervised probation after her release; including special conditions of drug and alcohol treatment and treatment for mental health issues.

The sentence can be appealed within 14 days of the judgement being signed.

Fallis’s arrest was one of 761 that authorities made during the height of the Dakota Access pipeline protests near Standing Rock, North Dakota in 2016 and 2017.

Saint-Charles man accused in Brady Francis’s death to enter plea in August

Brady Francis’s mom, Jessica Perley (left) and sister Sara Perley-Francis, attended Maurice Johnson’s first court appearance in Moncton Provincial Court on Tuesday. They’re hoping to get closure from Francis’s death. (Radio-Canada)

Plea postponed for Saint-Charles man accused in Brady Francis’s death

A 56-year-old Saint-Charles man charged after the hit-and-run death of Brady Francis will now enter a plea in late August.

Maurice Johnson, who is charged with failing to stop at the scene of an accident, was scheduled to make his first court appearance on Tuesday, but he was not present when the case was called in Moncton provincial court.

His lawyer, Gilles Lemieux, appeared on his behalf, and a new plea date was set for Aug. 21.

Johnson was issued a summons in late June, 115 days after the 22-year-old Francis, of Elsipogtog First Nation, was killed.

Family members said they would be back again in court on Aug. 21 to see the case through and to get closure.

“I just hope and wish that he just pleads guilty and just ends it,” Francis’s mother, Jessica Perley, said. “It’s gone on way too long.”

Francis was found dead by the side of the road in Saint-Charles, about 12 kilometres north of the reserve and about 100 kilometres north of Moncton.

It’s believed he was waiting for a ride home Feb. 24, when he was struck on Saint-Charles South Road.

“He was amazing, he was everything,” said Francis’s younger sister, Sara Perley-Francis.

Brady Francis was 22 when he was struck and killed Feb. 24 by a driver who left the scene. (Facebook photo)

Following Francis’s death, rallies and vigils were organized across the province, and people pleaded for the driver to come forward and confess.

Family members said they were overwhelmed by the support from their community and the number of people who showed up at the Moncton courthouse on Tuesday.

‘He didn’t deserve this’

“I really hope Brady’s family gets the justice they deserve,” said Keora Doucette, a friend of Francis.

“As we all know the justice system has failed us many times before, but I’m very positive there will be a really good outcome out of this, not just for the community but for Brady as well, because he didn’t deserve this.”

Keora Doucette was a friend of Brady Francis and said the justice system needs to do more for the Indigenous community. (Radio-Canada)

Doucette was referring to the Tina Fontaine case in Winnipeg. She was just 15 when her body was found in Winnipeg’s Red River, wrapped in a duvet cover and weighed down with rocks in August 2014.

There was also Colten Boushie, a 22-year-old who was shot on a rural Saskatchewan farmyard in August 2016.

“I pray to God that justice system will understand we have rights too,” Doucette said. “Our people are dying and nothing’s been done.”

4-month investigation

News of the charge was met with feelings of relief and vindication in the Elsipogtog community after a four-month investigation produced its first charge.

“With any investigation, it takes the time it takes to conduct a proper investigation,” Cpl. Jullie Rogers-Marsh, media relations officer with the New Brunswick RCMP, said in an interview with CBC News after the charge was laid.

A sign at CC’s Entertainment Centre, where Francis worked, counted the days without a charge being laid after he was killed. (CBC)

“In this particular case, it was an exhaustive investigation. Our investigators spoke with several people and they reviewed quite a bit of evidence, and we believe the evidence gathered warrants the charge that [was] laid.”

Source: CBC News

Indigenous Mexicans spurn Presidential vote with blockades, bulldozers

Members of the Supreme Indigenous Council block the entry to their community to avoid the installation of polling stations for Mexico’s general election in the indigenous Purepecha town of Zirahuen. Reuters

NAHUATZEN, Mexico – Mexican voters will stream to the polls this Sunday in a pivotal presidential contest, but leaders representing tens of thousands of indigenous people have vowed to block voting in their communities to protest a system they say has failed them.

Polls say Mexico is on the verge of electing its first leftist anti-establishment president in modern history, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. But the prospect of change has failed to resonate with inhabitants of small towns nestled in the lush, wooded countryside of southwestern Michoacan state.

Residents here have destroyed campaign signs and set up blockades to prevent the government from delivering ballots. Election officials have declared 16 towns here “unviable,” and will not likely risk confrontation to force polling stations to open.

Among the no-go zones is the impoverished hamlet of Nahuatzen, where Purepecha indigenous locals grow avocados and eke out a living on tiny plots. On Thursday, several dozen men, some in cowboy hats, stood vigil near the town’s entrance. They had laid a tree trunk across the road to stop outsiders from entering.

“The politicians haven’t done anything besides enrich themselves and they’ve left us behind,” said Antonio Arriola, a member of a recently-created indigenous council that has petitioned the Mexican government for autonomy.

After word spread on Friday that local party bosses may try to deliver ballots in their personal cars, indigenous leaders said they would use bulldozers to dig a trench in the main road to strengthen their blockade, a tactic already employed in a nearby town.

Arriola and other local leaders grudgingly acknowledged some common ground with Lopez Obrador, the 64-year-old former Mexico City mayor who got his start in politics decades ago advocating for indigenous rights.

But Arriola said the Purepecha have learned the hard way not to pin their hopes on promises coming from politicians, even ones that purport to have their best interests in mind.

“Our roads, schools and health care have been in the gutter for more than 40 years,” he said.

Nahuatzen is part of a growing movement among Mexico’s indigenous communities, who are seeking self-rule and turning their backs on mainstream elections.

Dissent in Michoacan ignited seven years ago, ahead of the 2012 presidential election, when just one jurisdiction, the municipality of Cheran, opted out of voting. This year, the boycott spread to six additional municipalities affecting dozens of polling stations across the 16 towns, home to at least 50,000 voters.

Agitation has likewise spread to traditional Maya communities in the southern Mexican states of Chiapas and Guerrero.

Indigenous leaders in at least six towns and small cities in those states are also pledging to block balloting on Sunday. That could impact tens of thousands more voters.

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Residents block the access to their community to avoid the installation of polling stations for Mexico’s general election in the indigenous Purepecha town of Nahuatzen. Reuters

Electoral authorities may set up polling stations outside towns that have rejected them, allowing those who want to vote to do so, said Erika Barcenas, a lawyer based in Morelia, Michoacan’s capital, who advises communities that want more autonomy.

“But I think the view of the majority is a more global rejection, a rejection of political parties and of the kind of democracy we have right now,” she said.

The growing complaints of indigenous Mexicans appear to track a broader restlessness in the country, where widespread political corruption, drug violence and entrenched poverty have fueled discontent.

Support for democracy among Mexicans plummeted from slightly more than 70 percent in 2004 to just under half last year, according to data from the Latin America Public Opinion Project.

Never conquered

Resistance to far-away masters goes back centuries for the Purepecha of Michoacan. Known for their fierce independence and closely guarded metal-smelting skills before the Spanish conquest of 1521, they were one of the few kingdoms in central Mexico that Aztec armies never subdued, despite repeated attempts.

On a federal highway near the town of Zirahuen, about 22 miles (35 km) southeast of Nahuatzen, several hundred locals set up another blockade with a big yellow truck, cutting off transit in both directions.

Many in the crowd said they were determined to repel any attempt by election authorities to deliver ballots or set up polling stations.

As of Friday evening, authorities had made no such efforts.

Young indigenous men in baseball caps walked down long lines of idled vehicles, telling drivers if they wanted to pass they must remove any visible campaign advertising. In a couple of instances they peeled political party stickers from windshields.

But the cradle of Michoacan’s movement is Cheran, home to 18,000 mostly Purepecha residents. The municipality proudly displays it indigenous heritage on its police vehicles, where the town’s name is written in the indigenous language, rather than Spanish.

Anger over widespread illegal logging believed to be organized by drug gangs sparked the unrest in Cheran. Outraged residents expelled their mayor and the local police force, whom they accused of being complicit. In 2012, citizens began to set up a new governing council based on indigenous customs.

During mid-term elections in 2015, 11 polling stations in four more municipalities joined Cheran in blocking balloting.

Pedro Chavez, president of Cheran’s indigenous governing council, said he is pleased that the movement has expanded yet again during this presidential election year.

“We can be an inspiration for free self-determination and a lesson about the rights of native peoples,” said Chavez, speaking outside his nearly-completed traditional wood-plank home.

The rights of Mexico’s indigenous poor last commanded the nation’s attention just after the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) went into effect in 1994 and the Zapatista National Liberation Army issued a “declaration of war” against the government.

A 12-day battle ensued, claiming at least 140 lives.

“Free determination (for indigenous communities) is something that’s now being discussed for the first time since the Zapatista revolt,” said Barcenas, the attorney.

Some election officials say a solution to rising resistance among indigenous communities lies in more local control over public finance.

“We think the crux of their struggle is the push for direct funding to address the marginalization these communities face,” said David Delgado, the national electoral institute’s delegate for Michoacan.

Marco Banos, an official with the national electoral institute, said Mexico needs to find ways to fuse indigenous customs with the country’s existing election laws in communities where resistance to voting is playing out.

Still, he said resistance to voting is not as widespread as activists assert.

But, in Arantepacua, another restive Michoacan community which is boycotting the election, Dionisio Lopez said he is finished casting ballots.

“It’s all one big mafia. We having nothing but pure corruption here in Mexico and it’s proven,” he said. “Why pretend otherwise?”

By Reuters

[SOURCE]

Hamilton-area homeowner found not guilty in shooting death of Six Nations man

Peter Khill, left, faced second-degree murder charges in the killing of Jon Styres, right, during a break-in.

Former reservist in Canadian army acquitted in shooting death of indigenous man 

A jury has found Peter Khill, not guilty in the shooting death of Jon Styres, a indigenous man, he believed was trying to steal his truck.

Khill, 28, admitted he shot Styres, but pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, saying he fired in self-defence when he thought Styres was pointing a gun at him.

Styres died from two close-range shotgun blasts in the driveway of Khill’s home near Hamilton Ont., on Feb. 4, 2016.

The trial heard that Styres, a 29-year-old father of two from Ohsweken, on the Six Nations reserve, did not have a gun at the time of the shooting.

According to the Globe and Mail, Khill sighed with relief as the verdict was read out Wednesday morning after less than a day of deliberations.

Across the courtroom, family and friends of the victim, shook their heads. Lindsay Hill, the mother of his children, wearing a Justice For Jon t-shirt, collapsed in tears and had to be carried out of the courtroom. Others cursed openly.

The London Press reports, Khill is a former reservist in the Canadian army. He served four years part-time in a stint that ended in 2011.

At trial the Crown argued that Styres did not pose a reasonable threat to Khill and his girlfriend while they were inside their locked home, and that Khill should have called 911 and waited for police rather than run out of the house with a loaded shotgun.

Peter Khill, charged with second-degree murder, leaves court in Hamilton, June 12, 2018

Khill told a 911 operator that night that Styres had turned toward him with his hands sweeping up to “gun-height.”

But experts testified that the angle of the shots showed it was their opinion Styres was facing into the truck when he was hit in the chest and shoulder.

According to The Canadian Press, after the verdict, defence lawyer Jeffrey Manishen told reporters he thought Khill’s military service was a central point of the trial, and was significant to determining whether Khill had acted reasonably to defend himself under the circumstances.

Manishen told the jury that race played no part in this case, as Khill could not possibly have known Styres was Indigenous given how dark it was at the time of the shooting and how quickly events unfolded.

He also noted after the verdict that potential jurors had been asked if they could be impartial given Khill and Styres’ races — a measure he said put him at ease about the issue of bias.

The Six Nations Elected Council released a statement Wednesday, expressing “shock and disappointment” at the not guilty verdict.

The council also called on the Ministry of the Attorney General to appeal the verdict.

Styres family said they would not comment or answer questions about the trial or its outcome.

The case garnered attention for similarities to a Saskatchewan case, in which white farmer Gerald Stanley was acquitted in February in the shooting death of Colten Boushie, from the Red Pheasant First Nation.