Tag Archives: AIM

Man Arrested For Painting ‘AIM’ On US Flag Gets $55000 In Lawsuit

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Associated Press | July 22, 2016 

PITTSBURGH – A man arrested for painting the letters “AIM” on an American flag that he flew upside-down at his house in protest has settled his free speech lawsuit against the township for more than $55,000.

Supervisors in Allegheny Township, Blair County, have approved letting their insurance company pay Joshuaa Brubaker, the Altoona Mirror first reported Friday. The supervisors approved a resolution on July 12 advising township police to no longer enforce the state’s flag desecration laws as part of the settlement, notice of which was filed Tuesday in federal court in Johnstown.

“The problem is that every couple years we get a report that someone’s been charged with insulting the flag or desecrating the flag under Pennsylvania laws,” said Sara Rose, the American Civil Liberties Union attorney who filed the lawsuit in February. “The U.S. Supreme Court law is very clear that you cannot charge someone with using the flag for expressive purposes, like drawing on it or burning it.”

Brubaker, 39, is part Native American and says “AIM” stands for the American Indian Movement. Brubaker flew the flag on his porch in May 2014 about 90 miles east of Pittsburgh. He was protesting plans to route the proposed Keystone Pipeline through Wounded Knee, South Dakota.

Wounded Knee is the site of a U.S. Cavalry massacre of some 200 Lakota Indians in 1890. In 1973, the Indian reservation town of the same name was seized by AIM and other activists in a 71-day standoff with federal law enforcement.

The dispute with the township began when another resident — an Army veteran who also happens to be part Native American — was offended by the display and contacted police.

Leo Berg III, who was then assistant chief but now heads the township department, seized the flag and charged Brubaker with violating two state laws: insulting the national flag, a second-degree misdemeanor that carries up to two years in prison and a $5,000 fine, and flag desecration, a third-degree misdemeanor carrying up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine.

A Blair County judge dismissed the criminal charges against Brubaker a few months after they were filed, finding they didn’t apply in a case involving political speech.

Brubaker told The Associated Press when the lawsuit was filed why he displayed the flag the way he did.

“I figured with this generation, if someone drove by this house and saw AIM” that they’d search for the term online and learn more about the group and its causes, Brubaker said. Flying a flag upside-down is also a distress signal, and Brubaker said he believed the country is in distress.

Brubaker must pay his own attorneys’ fees and expenses and any taxes out of the $55,844 he’ll receive, according to the settlement.

[SOURCE]

The Case For Releasing Leonard Peltier

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By teleSUR, Feb 5 2016

Leonard Peltier has always maintained his innocence and has emphatically maintained that his continued persecution by the U.S. government is politically motivated.

Even Amnesty International, which is cautious about cases it champions, has taken up Peltier’s cause, questioning the fairness of his trial and backs assertions that political considerations likely factored into his treatment by the U.S. justice system.

So why would U.S. authorities single out Peltier and seek his unjust imprisonment?

Peltier was a leading figure within the American Indian Movement (AIM) during its peak in political activity in the 1970’s. Active in defense of his people’s interests and lands from a young age, Peltier rose quickly to occupy a prominent role within the movement.

In 1975, responding to a request by local indigenous people from the Pine Ridge reservation, Peltier traveled to South Dakota. There he worked with the community helping provide security amidst political tensions and violence between rival groups on the reservation.

FBI officials, on a deliberate mission to weaken or destroy leftist organizations, believed that AIM activists were conspiring at Pine Ridge.

“It was not an armed military camp hatching terrorist plans … It was a spiritual camp,” said Peltier.

On June 26, 1975 a massive shootout erupted, which included participants from AIM, the FBI, and paramilitaries hired by the tribal chairman who was opposed to AIM.

When the bullets stopped, two FBI agents and one indigenous man by the name of Joseph Stuntz were dead.

Despite the participation of dozens of people, only AIM members Bob Robideau, Darrell Butler, and Leonard Peltier were brought up on charges related to the deaths of the FBI officials. Robideau and Butler were arrested and charged but ultimately acquitted.

Peltier, fearing that he would not receive a fair trial, fled to Canada. He would eventually be extradited back to the United States based on the testimony of Myrtle Poor Bear, who said she saw Peltier shoot the agents.

Ms. Poor Bear would eventually recant her statements. It is alleged she was not even present at Pine Ridge on the day in question.

Peltier’s trial was held in North Dakota in 1977 and was presided over by Judge Paul Benson, an appointee of conservative President Richard Nixon.

Myrtle Poor Bear was not allowed to testify and submit to the jury that her previous statements were false. Other witnesses would later claim the FBI coerced them into testifying against Peltier. Key evidence that helped exonerate Robideau and Butler was not allowed to be introduced.

The jury found Peltier guilty and he was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences.

It would later be revealed that the prosecution hid thousands of documents related to the case, documents that could have helped prove Peltier’s innocence.

Despite all this, Peltier was denied a retrial in 1986. The judge who presided over that trial, Gerald Heaney, even expressed concern about the administration of justice

He has also been consistently denied parole, most recently in 2009, due to his insistence that he is innocent.

Peltier is now 71-years-old and is not eligible for another parole hearing until 2024. This is why his supporters, who include many notable figures and celebrities, have called for U.S. authorities to release him on humanitarian grounds. Other have specifically called on President Obama to commute Peltier’s sentence before the end of his term.

This content was originally published by teleSUR:
http://www.telesurtv.net/english/analysis/-The-Case-for-Releasing-Leonard-Peltier-20160205-0023.html

AIM Co-Founder Seeking Assistance In Search For Missing Granddaughter

Dennis Banks, seen here with family friend Tracy Rector (left), Robert Upham, and an unidentified relative, stopped by the memorial gathering for Misty Upham.

Dennis Banks, seen here with family friend Tracy Rector (left), Robert Upham, and an unidentified relative, at a memorial gathering for Misty Upham.

By Red Power Media, Staff 

While another missing woman case in Minnesota turned deadly, the granddaughter of prominent AIM co-founder Dennis Banks, has been missing for more than a week.

The last solid lead of 31-year-old, Rose Downwind’s whereabouts is from an ex-boyfriend, who told police he saw Downwind leaving a home on Stoner Avenue in Bemidji on Oct. 21.

Police are asking for help locating Downwind

The Bemidji Police Department are seeking information about Downwind’s whereabouts. Police Chief Mike Mastin said his department is chasing down leads across the state but has yet to make a breakthrough in the case.

“Any time someone is missing for this period of time it’s a cause for concern,” Mastin said. “But we haven’t developed any leads that would suggest she’s anything but missing.”

Police originally centered the search around the Bemidji Target, where family members last saw Downwind. Since then, Mastin said Downwind’s ex-boyfriend provided new information placing her on Stoner Avenue two days later.

The ex-boyfriend, Mastin said, may have seen Downwind get into a blue car, but couldn’t describe the make and model.

Meanwhile, police are continuing to investigate the death of University of Minnesota Morris student Laura Ann Schwendemann, 18, whose body was found in a cornfield near Alexandria Monday by a farmer who was harvesting his corn. She had been missing since Oct. 14.

AIM co-founder seeking assistance in finding his Granddaughter

According to Native News Online, Downwind is the granddaughter of Dennis Banks, American Indian Movement (AIM) co-founder— and the daughter of Darla Banks.

Darla Banks said in the article that she would normally hear from her daughter almost daily, but has not heard from her in almost 11 days. Banks said her daughter was reportedly going to Saint Paul; however, no one in Saint Paul that she knows has seen her.

Dennis Banks told the online newspaper that he had recently talked to Duane Lee “Dog” Chapman, who has offered to help locate Downwind.

Dog specializes in finding bail jumpers and missing people.

“She is still missing and we hope there has been no foul play,” said Banks, who is seeking assistance through social media. “Besides the usual law enforcement agencies, I am calling on the regional members of the American Indian movement to assist by going door to door asking if anyone has seen her or knows of her whereabouts.”

Candlelight vigil 

A candlelight vigil will be held tonight for Rose Downwind.

The vigil will be held at 7 p.m. on the 100 block of Stoner Avenue, where Downwind, was last seen leaving a residence.

Downwind was wearing a blue sweater and black pants when she was last seen. Anyone with information about her disappearance is asked to call the Bemidji police department at 218-333-9111 or call the Rose Downhill Hot Line at 763-242-4242.

Any tip will be greatly appreciated.

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‘Bear Clan Patrol’ to return to Winnipeg streets

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By Tim Fontaine | CBC News

Volunteers from the city’s indigenous community are resurrecting a group that once patrolled Winnipeg streets.

The murder of Tina Fontaine this past summer was really the catalyst for this,” said James Favel, chair of the Dufferin Residents Association and one of those reconstituting the Bear Clan Patrol.

In the early 1990s, the Bear Clan Patrol had more than 200 members, whose goal was to prevent crime and help vulnerable people. Volunteers would work from dusk to dawn in teams, walking, driving or cycling through inner-city neighbourhoods.

Members of the Bear Clan were involved in everything from preventing break-ins, stopping fights and getting intoxicated people get home safely, to keeping an eye on those in the sex trade.

Founded by workers at the Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre in the city’s North End, the original Bear Clan Patrol operated for several years before the group faded away.

Although the new Bear Clan has nearly 400 likes on its Facebook group, Favel says actual patrols won’t begin until the summer.

“We’re still working out a vetting process for volunteers. We can’t just let anyone go out on the streets without some sort of screening,” he said.

Still, Favel says the group already has a board and the blessing of the Bear Clan’s original founders. They’ve even had a small number of jackets made that can be worn when volunteers begin making rounds.

The original group was modelled after a similar initiative called the AIM (American Indian Movement) Patrol that operated in Minnesota beginning in the late 1960s.

The Bear Clan Patrol was also inspired by the traditional clan system of the Ojibway and Cree. People who were born into the bear clan were often seen as protectors of their communities.

Native American Gangs: AIMing For A Higher Ground

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By Tristan Ahtone | Al Jazeera America

This is is the third story in a five-part series on Native American gangs.

The American Indian Movement hopes to rise again, but a new leader needs to shake gang ties

MINNEAPOLIS — From the plush leather interior of a black Cadillac Escalade, Reuben Crow Feather looked out to the streets and pointed to a corner lit only by the red, yellow and green glow of a changing stoplight overhead and a nearby fast-food sign.

“When I was on the block here in Minneapolis, I would keep a .44 Desert Eagle with one in the chamber with the safety on,” he said. “I wouldn’t have to slide it. All I’d have to do is flip the switch and rock. It was a cannon.”

Crow Feather, a Dakota tribal member, is a big guy. Barrel chested with veiny arms, two long braids and tinted glasses, he regularly displays a toothy grin when talking and has a habit of raising his voice to a threatening decibel when engaged in a monologue.

Convicted of drug trafficking in 2008 and identified by law enforcement as a leader of the Minneapolis-based gang Native Mob — a charge he denies — he is currently on parole and says he makes most of his money dancing and singing professionally at powwows across the nation. He is also preparing for a new step in his life: political activism.

At 38, Crow Feather is poised to become a leader in the American Indian Movement (AIM), an organization that was born on the streets of Minneapolis in the 1960s to protect civil rights and later become an internationally infamous militant Indian organization that took on the federal government.

“We’re the equivalent of the Black Panthers,” said Crow Feather. “But we’re culturally based.”

His ascent to a leadership role in the organization raises questions about how a new generation of AIM leaders will keep the nearly 50-year-old organization alive and relevant for a generation of Native Americans that now fight their battles in court, not through protest or 1960s-style actions. It also raises questions about whether AIM can transcend its role as one of the most polarizing forces in Indian Country politics and whether its new leaders can get beyond their own sordid pasts.

“I’m not a Native Mob chief,” said Crow Feather. “I’m a chief. That’s what I am, and the people will say it — I’m a leader.”

Clyde Bellecourt, co-founder of the American Indian Movement and head of the AIM Grand Governing Council, at the group's headquarters

Clyde Bellecourt, co-founder of the American Indian Movement and head of the AIM Grand Governing Council, at the group’s headquarters

Religious items that Bellecourt carries include eagle feathers, a rattle and a sacred pipe created just for him with the letters "AIM"

Religious items that Bellecourt carries include eagle feathers, a rattle and a sacred pipe created just for him with the letters “AIM”

Clyde Bellecourt, prepares to give a blessing before a community meal.

Clyde Bellecourt, prepares to give a blessing before a community meal.

While he was in prison, the last thing Clyde Bellecourt ever thought he would do was lead the revolutionary Indian organization AIM into direct battle with the United States.

Born on the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota and raised in Minneapolis, he went down a road of alcohol and crime as a young man. By his mid-20s, he found himself in Stillwater Prison, a minimum security penitentiary in the St. Croix Valley outside St. Paul.

One day last fall, Bellecourt and his protege Reuben Crow Feather drove to Stillwater. The two were dressed in ribbon shirts, garments specific to Indian Country and tantamount to a shirt and tie. The two had driven out from Minneapolis to discuss the future of the movement and to see the prison in which AIM began.

“I was in this block,” he said as he walked the edge of Stillwater prison’s razor wire. “I was in here 25 months.”

“Only prison I’ve been in in Minnesota is Sandstone,” said Crow Feather as he walked alongside Bellecourt, eyeing the prison’s 100-year-old walls.

Crow Feather and Bellecourt outside Stillwater prison in Minnesota, where the American Indian Movement in many ways began.

Crow Feather and Bellecourt outside Stillwater prison in Minnesota, where the American Indian Movement in many ways began.

During his time in Stillwater, Bellecourt came into contact with other Native people and began to learn about his culture and traditions, from language to songs and ceremonies. He advocated successfully for the prison to allow Native prisoners to engage in those practices, including religious ceremonies like sweat lodge.

“I started having dreams of being an eagle flying over South Dakota and seeing these beautiful sun dances,” said Bellecourt.

“Even the horses were dancing, and that’s what I wanted for my life. That’s what I wanted to do when I got out.”

“How old were you?” asked Crow Feather.

“When I came in here, I was around 22 or 23.”

“Just a baby,” said Crow Feather.

When Bellecourt was released, he took home what he learned in prison and began organizing with other tribal members living in Minneapolis. The issues affecting his generation included housing, education, employment and police brutality against the city’s Indian population.

An alleyway on the south side of Minneapolis. AIM got its start by organizing safety patrols in the Native neighborhoods of Minneapolis, hoping to monitor police actions against Native Americans.

An alleyway on the south side of Minneapolis. AIM got its start by organizing safety patrols in the Native neighborhoods of Minneapolis, hoping to monitor police actions against Native Americans.

“[AIM] came out of a really, really poor relationship that existed between the Minneapolis cops and the Indian community here,” said Eric Buffalohead, chair of the American Indian studies department at Augsburg College.

Bellecourt and other tribal members began locally organized safety patrols that monitored police actions in Minneapolis’ Native neighborhoods. “They started the AIM patrols, and those went on throughout the ’70s, just looking to protect Native American people,” said Buffalohead.

Within a few years, they had revived the image of longhaired, rifle-toting Indians fighting for their rights and their land and became synonymous with the burgeoning red power movement across the country.

“They got people paying attention to Indian politics for the first time for a very long time in very important ways,” said Mary Stuckey, a professor of communications at Georgia State University. “They provided a positive, stalwart, important kind of option in which assimilation wasn’t the only choice, urbanization was not the only option and that there was such a thing as a culture that was worthy of pride and defense.”

They painted Plymouth Rock red for Thanksgiving, took over Mount Rushmore and in 1972 occupied the Bureau of Indian Affairs building in Washington, D.C. A year later they grabbed headlines again in Wounded Knee, South Dakota.

On Feb. 27, 1973, about 200 AIM members drove into the Pine Ridge Reservation’s town of Wounded Knee — where in 1890 the 7th Cavalry massacred more than 300 Native men, women and children — and took control of the town for 71 days, in hopes of removing Tribal Chairman Dick Wilson, whom AIM and many reservation residents perceived as dictatorial, corrupt and pro-assimilation.

By the end of their siege in 1973, two AIM supporters were killed during shootouts with authorities and black civil rights activist Ray Robinson disappeared. By 1975 ,two FBI agents were shot and killed, and prominent AIM member Anna Mae Aquash was murdered.

Local residents were left to deal with the aftermath, and in the years after Wounded Knee and AIM’s departure, the reservation faced bloodshed and terror.

Images of AIM leaders are posted on the side of a utility box, part of a community art project to showcase Native American culture. Among those pictured are Bellecourt, left box, top left; Dennis Banks, an activist and co-founder of AIM, right box, top left; and Leonard Peltier, convicted in the shooting deaths of two FBI agents at Wounded Knee in a controversial trial that is still disputed, right box, bottom left.

Images of AIM leaders are posted on the side of a utility box, part of a community art project to showcase Native American culture. Among those pictured are Bellecourt, left box, top left; Dennis Banks, an activist and co-founder of AIM, right box, top left; and Leonard Peltier, convicted in the shooting deaths of two FBI agents at Wounded Knee in a controversial trial that is still disputed, right box, bottom left.

“Similar to what happened to the Black Panther Party in California that led to the development of gangs in Los Angeles is that you have a lot of youth that are incredibly active, who are alienated,” said Casey Kelly, an associate professor of communications at Butler University who has studied how AIM used media. “The generation before them are in jail or dead, and they’re sort of left with systemic poverty and time on their hands.”

In 1985, Clyde Bellecourt was caught selling LSD to an undercover cop, and in the 1990s, he and his brother Vernon Bellecourt were expelled from the movement for drug sales, collaboration with the federal government against indigenous people and, as a tribunal put it, “high treason against the membership of the American Indian Movement and American Indian people in general” by members of the Autonomous Chapters of the American Indian Movement, based in Colorado and headed by former movement leaders like Russell Means. Five years later, Means publicly accused Clyde Bellecourt and Vernon Bellecourt of ordering the 1975 murder of Anna Mae Aquash after misidentifying her as an undercover FBI agent.

Today two primary factions of AIM exist: the Autonomous Chapters of the American Indian Movement and the American Indian Movement Grand Governing Council, based in Minneapolis and headed by Clyde Bellecourt.

Both of Crow Feather's parents were AIM activists, so they brought him up in his Dakota cultural practices. Here, he sings at a community powwow.

Both of Crow Feather’s parents were AIM activists, so they brought him up in his Dakota cultural practices. Here, he sings at a community powwow.

Reuben Crow Feather has been pegged as a member and leader of the Native Mob by state and federal authorities. He’s been accused of threatening witnesses to testify falsely. He’s been convicted of drug trafficking. He’s broken bread with the leaders of Native Mob, partied with them, been photographed with them and undertaken criminal activities with them. But he says he was never a member.

“I deny it to the end,” said Crow Feather. “I was definitely involved with the gang — I’m not going to deny that — but am I one of them? No.”

The distinction is so fine that the only one who seems to care is Crow Feather.

“I command a respect that’s bigger than the gang,” he said. “I’m more dangerous than a gang member. I’m a dangerous person because I have a heart. I have love. That’s what makes me dangerous to people who would do something against my people.”

Crow Feather’s word for this is “tokala,” which in Lakota roughly means “a traditional warrior who would give his life for his people.” He is working hard to rehab his image from one as a gang member to that of a revolutionary warrior.

Both his parents were AIM members, and he says that, thanks to their activism, he grew up learning the Dakota cultural practices.

At the age of 14, he says, he began sun dancing and taking part in traditional ceremonies. By 18, he had begun committing burglaries and strong-arm robberies, selling marijuana and fighting, and his mother subsequently threw him out of their home.

He eventually spent nearly six years in prison and hopes that today, through his participation with AIM, he can start creating city programs like a halfway house, a place where American Indians who are sincere in their sobriety can participate in spiritual practices, job placement and counseling — even though multiple facilities like that already exist in the Twin Cities and elsewhere in Minnesota.

He’s working to earn a degree in addiction studies and says he hopes things can start coming together for a new American Indian Movement, tackling what he sees as the pressing issues of his generation: substance abuse and cultural loss.

For AIM to survive another 50 years, leaders like Crow Feather will have to find ways to make the organization relevant to a new generation not familiar with ’60s-style revolution and find ways to make amends for the group’s darker years.

“When social movements in general from the ’60s moved off the streets and into the courts, then the particular kind of expertise that AIM brought to bear became less important,” said Georgia State’s Stuckey. “There didn’t need to be the protests because there were court cases. There were gains, but most of those gains came through the courts — and let’s face it, that’s not sexy.”

“I’m more dangerous than a gang member,” Crow Feather says. “I’m a dangerous person because I have a heart. I have love. That’s what makes me dangerous to people who would do something against my people.”

“I’m more dangerous than a gang member,” Crow Feather says. “I’m a dangerous person because I have a heart. I have love. That’s what makes me dangerous to people who would do something against my people.”

Crow Feather steered his Escalade through the South Side of Minneapolis in search of lunch. Clyde Bellecourt sat in the passenger seat. Bellecourt wanted Mexican food from a place called Pancho Villa’s. Crow Feather agreed.

Suddenly a car rolled up on the Escalade’s passenger side and honked its horn. The young driver motioned for Bellecourt to roll down his window.

“What up, bro? We were just talking about Clyde,” yelled the driver, a young man who, Crow Feather explained, also had previous ties to Minneapolis’ Native gang culture. “We were just talking about some AIM shit, then I looked and was like, ‘There goes Reuben and Clyde right there!’”

Crow Feather and Bellecourt laughed, then invited him to lunch. Crow Feather looked at Bellecourt, a man 40 years his senior, and smirked, then turned his Escalade toward Pancho Villa’s, with the young man following.

“See that, man?” said Bellecourt as the car lurched forward. “That’s where the movement is — people riding around in their cars talking about it.”

Crow Feather flashed one of his trademark toothy grins.

“That’s who we are,” said Crow Feather. “We’re the sons of the American Indian Movement.”

http://projects.aljazeera.com/2015/01/native-gangs/aim.html