Posts Tagged ‘racism’

A swastika was shaved into the victim's head (KRQE photo)

A swastika was shaved into the victim's head (KRQE photo)

A young Native American man from Navajo, N.M., tells the Navajo Times’ Jan-Mikael Patterson, here, that three men accused of attacking him and branding him with a swastika treated him “like a goat getting branded.”

The victim, who is 22 but who functions at the mental level of a 12-year-old, was branded wire clothes hanger. A swastika was shaved into his hair, and white supremacist symbols and slogans also were drawn on his body, prosecutors say.

The incident is being investigated as a possible hate crime.

Three men have been charged in the late April attack. (See previous post, here.)

“I didn’t want them to do this to me,” the victim tells Patterson. “I’m ashamed of what they did. They treated me like an animal, like a goat getting branded. I’m not a goat. I’m not a Jew.”

As Patterson reported last week:

    The three arrested include two Anglos, Jesse A. Sanford, 24, Paul W. Beebe, 26, both of Farmington, and William Hatch, 28, of Fruitland, N.M., whose mother is reportedly Navajo.

    “To my understanding, William Hatch is of mixed race but I don’t know specifically,” said Sgt. Robert Perez of the Farmington Police Department. “I was told that he is part Native American but I don’t know the specific tribe.”

    The victim said he was conscious throughout the attack.

There’s so much that’s sad about this, but perhaps the saddest is that the victim says he feels ashamed. He’s not the one who should feel shame.

Gwen Florio

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The swastika shaved into the victim's hair (KRQE photo)

The swastika shaved into the victim's hair (KRQE photo)

Hate crime “enhancement” is the official term for what the District Attorney’s Office in Farmington, N.M., seeks in the case of a developmentally challenged Native American man who was branded with a swastika.

Late last month, Paul Beebe, 26, William Hatch, 28 and Jesse Anderson, 24, allegedly lured the 22-year-old victim to an apartment where they used a wire hanger to burn a swastika into his arm. They also shaved another swastika into his hair and drew hate images on his body, according to this KRQE story from Amanda Goodman:

    Beebe, Hatch and Sanford have all been charged with kidnapping, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery. Beebe is also charged with tampering with evidence.

    Weaver said if the three men are convicted and the hate-crime enhancement is imposed it would be the first time ever in San Juan County a hate-crime enhancement was handed out. “It will be landmark,” she said.

    The enhancement is left up to the discretion of the judge and jury and would mean an extra year in prison for the defendants.

Although hate crimes can be difficult to prove, the DA’s office believes there’s enough evidence in this case to support the finding.

All three suspects were arraigned Monday and are being held on $150,000 cash bonds.

Gwen Florio

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This sort of news is a discouraging way to start off the week. Albuquerque TV station KRQE reports here on an attack on a mentally challenged Native American man.

Three men in Farmington are accused of luring the 22-year-old man into an apartment late last month and then burning a swastikas into his arm and shaved one onto his head.

“They held him down and forcibly branded him,” Farmington Police Sgt. Robert Perez tells KRQE. The men used a wire hanger, he says.

The men also wrote words and drew hateful images onto his body, Perez says. And, they apparently videotaped the event.

The victim named Paul Beebee, Jesse Sanford and William Hatch. Sanford is in custody, held on $175,000 cash bond, but the other two men are being sought. They’re charged with kidnapping and aggravated battery, and the FBI is making a determination if it constitutes a hate crime.

Gwen Florio

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School Superintendent Tim Mitchell is in the midst of a transition from the Chamberlain School District in South Dakota to one in Rapid City.

Each district has a significant population of Native students. So that transition hasn’t been helped by this week’s incident involving six Chamberlain students showing up for classes in homemade “White Pride” T-shirts that they said were a reaction to other students’ “Native Pride” garb.

As Kayla Gahagan of the Rapid City Journal reports here:

Chamberlain students in 'White Pride' T-shirts. (KELO-TV)

Chamberlain students in 'White Pride' T-shirts. (KELO-TV)

    Mitchell, who was selected as Rapid City’s new school superintendent in part for his successes in Chamberlain to bridge the gap between the Native and non-native community, scrambled to deal with the incident he described as “polarizing.”

    “It really ignited a firestorm,” he said.

    The T-shirts said “Cracker,” on the back, which is often used as a derogatory slang term for impoverished white people, and had large handrawn Celtic Crosses, a symbol often used by white supremacists. On the front of the shirts was the word “Peace” and a peace sign.

Mitchell says students and parents in Rapid City will likely view his handling of the Chamberlain incident – the students in the “White Pride” shirts were asked to change their shirts, but two refused and left for the day – as a litmus test. And he called the situation a “defining moment in my legacy here.”

Chamberlain serves serves the Crow Creek Sioux and Lower Brule Indian reservations. Many people from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation live and work in Rapid City. During Mitchell’s 15-year tenure at Chamberlain, Native American students’ test scores have improved, and he’s implemented cultural programs and curriculum to support them.

Mike Tyrell, executive director of the private St. Joseph’s Indian School, says that “we do have students offended by the whole situation.” But, he says, “Our idea is to work with kids to see this as a growth opportunity, instead of retaliation.”

Gwen Florio

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Some of the homemade "white pride" shirts. (KELO TV)

Here’s the entire story from the Associated Press:

CHAMBERLAIN, S.D. (AP) School officials in Chamberlain are investigating an incident in which six high school students wore homemade T-shirts proclaiming “White Pride World Wide.”

A derogatory slang term for impoverished white people also was on the back of each shirt, along with a symbol often used by white supremacists. On the front of the shirts was the word “Peace” and a peace sign.

Superintendent of Schools Tim Mitchell says officials are looking into why the students made the shirts. He says they violated the school’s dress policy. Two of the students changed their shirts and the other four left school.

One of them, 16-year-old Codie Novotny, says the shirts were a response to accusations by some American Indian students that white students and teachers are racist. She also says Indian students are allowed to wear clothing proclaiming “Native Pride.”

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Some professors at the University of Victoria in British Columbia think so.

A forum there in a couple of weeks will examine the question, according to this story by the Victoria Times Colonist:

    The [April 21] gathering will look at whether the portrayal of the indigenous character Jacob, who turns into a werewolf, is a breakthrough or perpetuates stereotypes about native men.

    “He doesn’t have feathers in his hair and doesn’t live in teepee,” said Janni Aragon, a University of Victoria political science professor.

    “So just the fact there are indigenous men in this book and movie is a big thing. We could say that’s a win. But the next step is to say is how are these men portrayed.”

The insanely popular movies, “Twlight,” and “The Twilight Saga: New Moon,” are based on the insanely popular teen vampire books by Stephenie Meyer.

Werewolves in the series are ostensibly members of the Quileute tribe, and are played in the movie by Native American actors.

As the story notes, the main Quileute character, Jacob Black, is ” muscular, hotheaded, passionate and often dressed in cutoff-style jeans or shorts. That’s in contrast to the very white vampire Edward, who is well-groomed, elegant and rational.”

And, says Sikata Banerjee, a University of Victoria women’s studies professor and associate dean of humanities, Jacob is also portrayed as somewhat childlike – “irrational and emotive, and not really equal in citizenship.”

That, she says, is dangerous, in the way that it reinforces negative stereotypes about indigenous men. What do you think?

Gwen Florio

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This photo ran with the online ad (Photo courtesy Longhouse Media)

This photo ran with the ad


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Ad offering to “clean” city of First Nations youth probed as a hate crime
Indian Country Today’s Gale Courey Toensing follows up here on this disturbing story about an online ad offering to cleanse the Canadian city of Winnipeg of Native youth. The ad ran with a picture of three Native boys and was headlined “Native Extraction Service.” It offered to relocate the “pesky little buggers” to their “habitat.” It’s now being investigated as a hate crime. As Valerie Talliman points out in her commentary, here, ignoring the ad is not an option: “Our silence is our consent.”

Ghost town haunted by wolves – Alaska village on high alert after teacher’s fatal mauling
A town hall meeting has been held in Chignik Lake, Alaska, to keep residents informed about wolves on the outskirts of town believed to have killed a teacher last week. Whiteout weather conditions hampered a hunt for the wolves. In the meantime, people are staying inside. This KTUU report calls Chignik Lake “a ghost town haunted by wolves.” Click on the link to watch a video report.

Native Hawaiians closer to establishing own government
This Associated Press report points out the fact that Native Hawaiians are the last remaining indigenous group in the United States that hasn’t been allowed to establish their own government. But a U.S. Senate vote this month – and President Barack Obama’s expected signature – could give federal recognition to 400,000 Native Hawaiians.

First Nations University funding denied; school could close within weeks
Canada’s aboriginal-run university could be forced to close by the end of this month, according to some reports, as a result of federal refusal to restore $7.2 million in funding that was cut after allegations of financial mismanagement. Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl tells the Toronto Globe & Mail, here, that “It is time to focus our attention on those aboriginal students themselves,” rather than the university.

Casino workers’ union contract brokered under tribal law
Among the very few tribal casinos whose workers have a union contract is huge Foxwoods Resort Casino complex, run by the Mashantucket Pequot tribe in Connecticut. What makes the contract unusual is that it was brokered under tribal law. NPR has the story here.

Gwen Florio

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In a challenge to white people to champion minority issues, a group in Oregon representing minorities will offer scholarships to white students, according to this story in the Oregonian of Portland.

The Oregon League of Minority voters will offer the small scholarships – perhaps a total of just $2,000 – over five years.

The idea is to address what reporter Janie Har terms “the stubborn lack of color in power.”

    Nicole Maher, Native American Youth Family Center

    Nicole Maher, Native American Youth Family Center

    Nichole Maher, executive director of the Native American Youth Family Center in Portland, welcomes any move to get whites involved in matters usually relegated to minorities.

    She rejects the idea that Oregon lacks qualified people of color to lead committees, serve in office or otherwise shape public policy. Members of minority groups need to lead discussions on poverty, discrimination and schools, she said.

    “[The] group should not just focus on whites being good allies but ensuring those people use their power and influence to give up their spot for a person of color,” she said.

    “The most courageous thing a white ally can do is truly share power.”

One in five people in Oregon is a person of color. Portland’s population breaks down this way: Latinos, 9 percent, Asians, 7 percent, African Americans, 6 percent and Native Americans and mixed race people, 4 percent.

And, writes Har, nearly half of the students in Portland Public Schools are Latino, Native American, African American or Asian American.

“Nobody will acknowledge there’s racism here, and all of the data will tell you there is,” Maher says.

Gwen Florio

Nati

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Dave Gram of the Associated Press writes not just about the apology being considered by Vermont lawmakers, but about the state’s sorry history in targeting its Native residents, as well as some others, for sterilization:

Judy Dow of the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs testifies at the Statehouse in Montpelier, Vt., Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2010.  A Vermont legislative committee is taking up the question of whether the state should apologize for a 20th century program to sterilize citizens who were labeled feeble-minded or criminal. The House Human Services Committee takes testimony Tuesday on the measure, a nonbinding resolution expressing the state's regret about the so-called eugenics movement. Backers of the resolution say its harms fell disproportionately on Vermonters of Abenaki and French-Canadian heritage, as well as poor Irish and Italian immigrants.  (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)

Judy Dow of the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs testifies at the Statehouse in Montpelier Tuesday. Backers of a resolution to apologize for the state

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — If the state of Vermont had carried out a plan to sterilize his grandmother, Don Stevens said Tuesday, he “wouldn’t be here.”

Many Vermonters of mixed French Canadian and Native American heritage, like Stevens’ grandmother, as well as poor, rural whites, were placed on a state-sanctioned list of “mental defectives” and degenerates in the 1930s and placed in state institutions like the Home for the Feeble Minded in Brandon.

Some had surgery after Gov. Stanley Wilson in 1931 won enactment of a sterilization law. It was designed to reduce the number of people seen as placing demands on public services, and to purify what University of Vermont zoology professor Henry Perkins, a national leader of the so-called “eugenics” movement, called “the fine old stock of original settlers in Vermont.”

Now the Vermont Legislature, which once endorsed breeding people like cattle, is considering a resolution expressing regret. It vows never to repeat “this dark chapter in Vermont’s history” and expresses the Legislature’s “profound sorrow and sincere regret that such a program of sterilization was sanctioned.”

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Talk about making a bad situation worse.

Michael Steele, the head of the Republican National Committee, is in hot water for a Fox News interview, in which he suggests that the GOP won’t win back the House this year. And he said something else in that interview, addressing host Sean Hannity’s question about whether the Republican Party needs to be more moderate in order to be successful.

In the YouTube clip above, Steele defends the party’s plaform, saying that it’s one of the best political platforms in a quarter-century – here, he raises his hand – “honest Injun on that.”

Wait, it gets worse. Here‘s the Fox transcript of the talk:

    HANNITY: But there’s — but there’s a battle, and you know this is going on, because you’re the chairman. I’m sure you deal with this a lot more than I do. There are those that are saying that, for the Republican Party to be successful, they’ve got to, quote, moderate — be more moderate.
    STEELE: No, no!
    HANNITY: You hear that.
    STEELE: That’s what has gotten us into trouble, when we walked away from principle. Our platform is one of the best political documents that’s been written in the last 25 years, honest engine on that.

A big boo-hiss to Fox for insulting people’s intelligence.

U.S. Rep. Dale Kildee, D-Mich (AP photo)

U.S. Rep. Dale Kildee, D-Mich (AP photo)

Michigan Democratic Rep. Dale Kildee, who co-chairs the Congressional Native American Caucus, takes Steele to task for his remark and Fox for its clumsy cover-up, as the Hill, the newspaper that covers Congress, reports here.

Kildee is demanding an apology from Steele.

“His insensitive comment undermines and threatens to reverse the progress we have made to correct those wrongs. A cursory look through a dictionary or even some knowledge of Native American history would show Mr. Steele that the term is a racial slur for Native Americans,” Kildee says.

No word on whether one is planned.

Gwen Florio

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