march in remembrance of American Indian victims of violence
members marched from the Minneapolis American Indian Center to City
Hall on an overcast Friday morning, Nov. 22nd, to demand action from
the City Council for American Indian victims of violence and unsolved
Clairmont of Women of Nations and other concerned women
held a press conference before the march at the Center.
About 200 members of the Indian community and others
participated in the protest march walking West on Franklin Avenue then
North on Chicago to 5th St.
women and children participated in the march. Vehicles
were provided for elders and those who could not walk the distance.
With the cooperation of Police Inspector Sharon Lubinski, police cars
flashing their lights escorted the line of marchers at front and back. Stopping briefly at the Minneapolis Star
Tribune as a show of protest, the marchers continued on to City
Release Nov. 18, 2002:
The march was in remembrance of all
American Indian victims of violence, from the imprisoned Indian men,
women and children who died in the concentration camps at Ft. Snelling
in 1862, to the American Indian women who fell victim to the serial
murderer in South Minneapolis in 1987. Special
remembrance will be given to the Indian woman whose body was found
October 29th on the grounds of the Minneapolis American Indian Center. She was a mother, a daughter, and a friend. Her body was subjected to an undignified
public examination at the crime scene. The
finding of her body did not even warrant a report in the media. Questions remain as to her cause of death.]
group, many carrying banners and holding up signs, shoulder to
shoulder, bypassing the elevators, walked their way up to the Council
Chambers. The Minneapolis City Council was
in full session. Council members were
unexpectedly greeted with drumming echoing throughout the halls. The young drummers were asked by council
chair, Paul Ostrow, to stop so council members could proceed with their
business. The chamber filled up wall to
wall, marchers spilling out into the hallways.
asked people to lower their signs in the chamber, for technical
reasons, so they could be televised by in-house cameras.
He allotted five minutes for the demonstrators to
speak, mentioning people were not usually allowed in like this, but
said what they came to say, however, pressing
on for about 20 minutes. Bonnie Clairmont
on behalf of the community gave a heartfelt unsettling emotional speech
why they were there. In referring to Carol
Garbow, whose body was found in October, Clairmont said, “She was
someone’s daughter! If she was your
daughter what would you expect?
collective reaction across the community to this death should be one of
complete and total outrage. Her death was
pointless and a loss of our sister with the many unanswered questions
that remain have touched a nerve within our community as you see here
today. She is just one example of this
type of injustice.
are many-many-many more stories. According
to the U.S. Department of Justice statistics American Indians are twice
as likely to become victims of violent crimes than the nation's overall
population. American Indians are three
times more likely then whites to be victims of rape.
We use statistics not so much to quantify but to
convince the world that this is a stark reality that effects are Indian
people each and every day.
age, religion, sexual orientation, status, gender should never be an
impediment to receiving the professional service all citizens deserve. We deserve justice! Our
sister deserves justice! Our sisters who
are raped on a daily basis deserve justice and murdered relatives
this 21st century in the age of modern technology where we have the
capability of DNA testing to identify suspects and many other tools at
our disposal. The number of unsolved
crimes should be dramatically reduced if not completed diminished. Yet, everyday I see women in hospital
emergency rooms who’ve been raped and their perpetrators are rarely
apprehended and brought to justice.
is nothing more important to the fabric of our civilized society today
then law and order and to feel that we are safe in our homes and on the
street. And I say this on particularly on
behalf of our children. You see many of
our children here today.
sovereign nations my Indian people had our own forms of justice. Crimes
like violence against women were dealt with harshly because women were
considered sacred. Today it seems like
were just a disposable commodity.
this modern day and age in this urban area we are compelled to rely on
white man’s legal system. I have been told
that no one is above the law and that the law applies equally to
everyone. For every women who has been
raped and for every person who’s been murdered someone should be held
accountable to the highest standard of the law.
our collective voices as Indian people we are asking for a full
investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department and the Hennepin
County Medical Examiners office in their protocol investigative history
by you the Minneapolis City Council about the unsolved crimes regarding
our Indian people. It is your duty to
protect and serve every citizen in this city less the blood of our
sisters shall be on your hands and certainly will tarnish the badges of
the police departments.”
half a dozen news people poked their cameras at speakers and audience.
Clyde Bellecourt, with commanding presence read seven demands to the
council and described incidents of violence. Council
members Gary Schiff and Dean Zimmermann said they would introduce the
demands as a resolution at the next council meeting.
Dean Zimmerman presented the demands to the council
for a resolution, but the matter was deferred to the next council
meeting because there was no time to debate the issue during the time
remaining. Council member Natalie Johnson
Lee urged that the council notify the group when the next council
meeting was to take place.
councilman expressed dissatisfaction with the Council’s letting the
protestors speak to the City Council because it didn’t meet the rules
of procedure. “My understanding is
[according to] the rules of this council is that we do not take public
testimony here … I don’t mind this but I think that we are trending
toward organizational chaos … maybe no one will care, but I will, and I
hope that we don’t go that far.” He
pointed to members of his ward who are not allowed to testify before
the City Council because of the procedural rules.
R.T. Rybak and Police Chief Olson met protesters on their way out in
the hallways. Rybak, standing on a chair,
wanted to speak about housing but Vernon Bellecourt angrily pointed out
that the group was there about violence in the community and got Rybak
on track. Olson said, in part, he
‘probably shouldn’t say it,’ but that he cares more about those who
voiced their concerns from the group standing wall to wall and far back
up the steps. Rybak and Olson seemed
genuinely concerned . They were directed
to contact Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors to continue talking
about the problem. Justin Huenemann,
co-chair of the MUID group, ended up the encounter with Rybak and Olson
with an impassioned message to the group. He
said that not only was this about the violence in the community, but it
was about the young people and that they really mattered, that the
community cares about them and loves them.
Bellecourt got a chant going, “we love you, we love you,” then asked
everyone to be careful going home and pay attention to the stoplights.
member Dean Zimmerman was supportive of the demonstrator’s cause, and
said that he has “been in communication with members of the group
already,” and that he has taken it upon himself to engage Chief Olson
in conversation about the problems of violence against American Indian
article by David Chanen with pictures on the
protest march appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune
Metro/State section, November 23, 2002. And
the next Minneapolis City Council meeting will be held on December 13,