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  • Writer's pictureAntonio Gonzales

Native Lives matter! America’s National Media Ignoring Police Murders of Native People. Our Protests

By Thomas Pearce and Dave Ortiz,

December 15th 2014 Cases of American Indians being killed by American policeman are well documented. Sitting Bull was killed by police in South Dakota December 15th 1890. Before and after the killing of Sitting Bull the police havebeen the most lethal weapon against indigenous people. We also know that even today even Indians like Daniel Tiger a Lakota man in Rapid City South Dakota have defended themselves against police. Daniel was shot after a routine traffic stop ended with two police officers and Daniel Tiger passed on from this world. We all know the problems the police have given our Mohawk brothers and sisters all the way to the East in Canada and New York and there are cases all the way to Tustin California where Paul Quintanar was forced onto a highway trying to flee police and was killed there.

Melissa Goodblanket is the mother of Mah Hi Vist Goodblanket, an 18 year old Cheyenne- Arapaho teen who was murdered by policemen in Custer County in Clinton Oklahoma. He was killed by Custer County deputies on Dec 2013. His parents had called emergency services to assist with calming Mah Hi Vist down.

Mah Hi Vist Goodblanket, was killed by police Dec 21st 2013. His murderers were not indicted. In fact they were given medals.

He had been diagnosed with Oppositional Defiance Disorder. Shortly after arriving police officers Chance Avery and Dillon Mach had shot Mah Hi Vist Goodblanket dead in his parents Melissa and Wilbur’s home. “The family was never even questioned or spoken to”. Melissa Goodblanket stated that the State of Oklahoma has completely ignored them or even asked them any questions into the case. Officers Avery and Mach were given “Medals of Honor” for murdering their son. “Public records requests in the case have been ignored”. Says Melissa Goodblanket.

Mah HiVist had travelled to England and France as an ambassador for his people. He had attended Haskell Indian Nations. April 11th would have been his 19th birthday. How did this bright star become dimmed? Racist police? Unjust legal system? After everything that has happened the Goodblankets yearn to stand in solidarity with other Americans in standing up against police brutality. Police brutality against Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and all other cases of police misconduct. Imagine how strong we all could be if we all stood together? It would be one thing if this were the only case against police brutality in the country against an American Indian but in fact it is one of many.

Melissa Goodblanket speaking at protest for her son MahHivist

From Melissa Goodblanket. “Mah-hi-vist Touching Cloud Goodblanket. Suffered an emotional crisis on Dec 21, 2013. The OSBI did the formal investigation. The State of Oklahoma doesn’t adhere to the Open Information Act when the OSBI is the investigative party and families just like the Goodblankets have no closure with the records being held. This is unknown constitutional and yet another atrocity against citizens. Seems few have the strength and burning desire to face the corruption that is evident and local prosecutors should not have the opportunity to decide the justified or unjustified rule. The law enforcement gangs will only protect their own. So until multitudes of us rise in every state together….and meet in Washington this senseless loss of life will continue. No one is exempt from this happening either. Mah-hi-vist lived in Clinton Oklahoma….Custer County.”

Protesters marching for Mah HiVist Good Blanket

Lets look at a few more cases in Oklahoma. Christina Tahhahwah Lawton OK. She died after being tasered repeatedly in the Lawton jail. Police have admitted she was tasered. She was jailed Nov 14th 2014 , she died in the hospital Nov 17th. She was originally thrown in jail for trespassing at her grandparents after she threw some milk. Imagine being killed for spilled milk. Hundreds of people showed up to her funeral.

Then there is the case of Benjamin Whiteshield in Clinton Oklahoma. Benjamin was accused of waving a wrench at an officer and was killed for that. Now in this case, Benjamin had a psychiatric disorder. He had been taken to the police station to “assist him with his problems”. He ended up dead. Seems to be a common complaint with Oklahoma Police. People in need of help being shot to death. Officers rewarded.

Now to Utah, the case of Corey Kanosh a Paiute descendant who was killed on Oct 12th 2012 by Millard County police in Utah. Kanosh was accused of stealing a car and involved in a high speed chase. He was tasered and allegedly was not rendered into submission, he also ended up dead, when officers shot him to death. It seems officers in pursuit of Indians are unable to subdue them without killing them.

Then New Mexico. It is absolutely brutal! In Albuquerque since 2010, 37 people have been murdered by police. Homeless Indians in the town have been beaten almost to death by local teens and law enforcement has not tried very hard to stop it. The Navajo Nation created the Navajo Nation Human Rights Commission, and charged them with investigating crimes against Navajo by police in bordering and nearby towns.It is important to remember that is Albuquerque native people, Latino people, and African Americans protested the shooting of James Boyd a homeless Caucasian man.

26 Tombstones set out to remember the 26 that had been killed by Albuquerque Police since 2010. Now the number is at 37!

Indigenous residents who testified to the Navajo Council investigation into Police incidents told of how when they called police they were ending up in jail. Story after story of Indigenous people having violence done to them.

In New Mexico a Navajo nation tribal delgate witnessed Farmington NM police officer Shawn Scott wrestling in a parking lot with Clint John of the Dine’ Nation. The officer then got up from wrestling with him on the ground and shot John Clint in the head in front of witnesses including a Navajo Nation Delegate in the parking lot of Walmart!

Then the case in New Mexico of Myles Rough Surface whose family had called police to report that there had been guns fired in the area by white gunmen. State Police in Spencerville NM came to the scene and instead of investigating the white gunmen they shot Myles Roughsurface whose family had called police.

Director of the Navajo Commission Leonard Gorman stated the purpose of the commission’s public hearing. “We’re aware of the problems of policing in the United States, particularly after Ferguson. What’s important to us is that when Navajos complain to us, it’s common that they don’t want to report problems because of a fear of retaliation. Folks know that no one will respond to their complaints. Cops are a kind of click, a club that protects their own.” He concluded by saying that “the role of the police is supposed to be to protect and serve, but our people tell us that we need to protect ourselves from the police.”

Then we come to the case of a famous incident in Seattle. The case of woodcarver John Williams who was partially deaf and walking down the street carrying a block of wood and a pocketknife of legal length . Officer Ian Birk shot him dead in broad daylight for not responding to demands that he put down the knife. John Williams was partially deaf. It was recently announced that Officer Birk will not be indicted. Tribe Called Red, the musical group, and others have written songs about him and Indian Country has been speaking out on his case. But there seems to be no justice for First Nations people affected by these brutal police actions.

Nitinah First Nations Woodcarver John Williams killed in Seattle by policeman who was not indicted.

I think you can see by all the killings covered in this article, the case of John Williams is for me glaring evidence that this is not just a case of rural cops gone crazy. This case is one of stark reality. This is America’s supposedly most progressive city. The announcement that officer Birk would not be indicted came in the midst of the Seattle left having rallies on behalf of Ferguson. This was right in their own city and what has happened? Native people seem to have no protection from brutal police. Not in New Mexico the state with the largest native population in the continental occupied territory of the United States. Not in Oklahoma, a land of many nations. Not in Utah.

Robert Villa was shot by police in front of his family by Tustin police.

Another case where a family called for assistance and ended up with a family member dead was the case of Robert Villa in Tustin California. Villa was of Apache and other indigenous heritage. He was shot by police who had been called to the home to assist in calming a disturbance. He ended up being killed in yet another case where a family called for help and got death instead. Many Latinos of indigenous heritage are treated brutally by police as a common practice.

When you look at the cases of Latinos with indigenous heritage and indigenous North Americans, you will see that the United States is still at war with indigenous people. In the jails of Minnesota, South Dakota, Montana and most of Indian Country indigenous people are incarcerated at almost 3 times the amount of the white population. There has been civil unrest. There have been lawsuits filed. Many protests have been carried out in Oklahoma. Yet the nation’s media is focused elsewhere. Is it because they are afraid of what will happen if American Indians, African Americans, Latinos and working class whites rise up against this unjust system? Yes!

Villa’s mother speaks at protest of her son Robert by Tustin California Police

Albuquerque protester blocking militarized APD preparing to attack protesters.

I know what you are thinking. “Why didn’t I hear about this before? Ask yourself that question again and think about everything going on. How could there be 37 shootings in an American city and the rest of the world not know about it? How could teargas be used on protesters and the national media not pick it up. It seems America is happy to try to keep the issues White and Black. As long as the issues are White and Black we will all continue to marginalize each other and stand alone. Imagine if we all got together and stood as one? We would be unbeatable. That is why you haven’t heard of these cases. America is counting on you not hearing about these cases. American Indians have been protesting consistently alongside

Albuquerque drummer at protest

Ferguson and NYC, indigenous protesters from Louisville to San Francisco to NYC have been marching in protests against police brutality. . We need the rest of the people in this country fighting for liberation to take up the cry of Mah Hi Vist Goodblanket, of Christina Tahhahwah, of Myles Rough Surface, of Corey Kanosh, of John Williams, Clint John, of of all of the victims of police brutality in this occupied nation!!

So far Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, and Mark Thompson- MatsimelaMapfumo of Make it Plain Radio on Sirius XM Radio have been among the few that have taken notice of police crimes against American Indians. . The NATIONAL MEDIA OUTLETS have ignored these cases. Many killings that occurred in Albuquerque were of Native people and Latino’s who had indigenous heritage. Hundreds of people in Albuquerque have been protesting since long before the failure of Missouri prosecutors to indict Darren Wilson, the murderer of Michael Brown. Many might say, “well there were riots in Ferguson”. There was also unrest in Albuquerque.There is unrest in Ferguson. There is unrest from Oakland to New York. The problem is that police have no Civilian oversight except in a few places. The problem is the drug war. The problem is that America is at war with people of color. They always have been and they always will be.

The national media has ignored this problem long enough. Proving their racism and media bias once again. The questions that are being asked by most of the land are being asked by Indian Country. Why do police departments have to be militarized to keep us safe. Why can’t we have Civilian Police Review Boards? Why can’t we have impartial grand juries to indict police officers when they murder people of color? Why can’t the gap between rich and poor be closed so people can have opportunities to have a decent quality of life. Why can’t there be more American Indian police, more African American police, more Latino police? Why do our prisons have to be filled with people of color? Why don’t we have drug treatment on demand? These are the solutions to the problems with brutal police. They need to be implemented now.

One thing is certain the legacy of Mike Brown, Eric Garner, John Williams, Mah His Vist Good Blanket, John Clint, Christina Tahhahwah, Benjamin Whiteshield, Corey Kanosh, Robert Villa,Paul Quintanar. Myles Rough Surface and all the victims of police brutality are honored when we all stand united together. Because police are not required to report publicly the numbers of people killed by law enforcement we may never be able to find all of them. This article is for all victims of police brutality everywhere.

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