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Local Briefs
41 indicted in drug trafficking ring on 2 Indian reservations
Monday, June 08 2015
 
Written by Laura Yuen and Jon Collins, MPR News ,
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41_indicted_in_drug_trafficking_ring_on_2_indian_reservations-web.jpg A federal grand jury has indicted 41 people in connection with a drug trafficking ring focused on two Indian reservations in Minnesota.

Authorities say the ring distributed drugs including heroin, methamphetamine, oxycodone and others in and around the Red Lake and White Earth Indian reservations starting in April 2014. Drugs were obtained in Detroit, Chicago and Minneapolis.

Heroin and prescription drugs have blazed a horrific path on the reservation, said Randy Goodwin, White Earth director of public safety. He said even newborn babies have been exposed to heroin because of their mothers' addictions.
"Many lives, families, and communities have been damaged or destroyed from this poison," Goodwin said. "Lives have been lost from overdose. Families have been destroyed. Our elders have been victims of threats, abuse, and theft."

Prosecutors describe Omar Sharif Beasley, 37, as the ringleader of the operation, alleging that he "recruited sources, supervisors, managers, distributors, facilitators, couriers, drivers." A former federal fugitive, Beasley has a history of drug convictions. For the past month, he has been held at the Anoka County jail on an unrelated charge of violating his probation.

Others charged include residents of North Dakota, Chicago, Milwaukee and the White Earth and Red Lake reservations.

Each suspect has been charged with conspiracy to distribute the drugs. Other charges for some of the suspects include drug possession with intent to distribute, illegal possession of a firearm and distribution of heroin, methamphetamine and prescription painkillers.

The indictment was filed last week but unsealed on May 27.

 


Analysis finds minorities arrested at a higher rate than whites in Mpls.
Monday, June 08 2015
 
Written by Brandt Williams, MPR News,
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analysis_finds_minorities_arrested_at_higher_rate_than_whites_in_mpls-web.jpgAn analysis released May 28 by the American Civil Liberties Union gives the most detailed picture yet of racial disparities in the treatment of low-level offenders by Minneapolis police.

Those arrested for non-felony offenses in Minneapolis are far more likely to be people of color than to be white.

The ACLU analyzed arrest data collected over nearly three years. Most of the arrests for low-level offenses occurred during traffic stops. Following FBI practice, the ACLU counts as an arrest encounters where people are merely stopped, ticketed and released.

Minneapolis police officers made nearly 100,000 non-felony arrests between Jan. 1, 2012, and Sept. 30, 2014. African-Americans and Native Americans were arrested at rates nearly nine times higher than the rate for whites.

African-Americans make up less than 19 percent of the city's population, and Native Americans just 2 percent. The arrest numbers don't include separate categories for Asians and Hispanics.

The disparity didn't come as a surprise to Henry Jackson, 55, as he stood across the street from Target Field with a handful of tickets.

Buying and selling tickets is legal, but Jackson, who's African-American, has been arrested for trespassing in the neighborhood three times since 2012.

The latest arrest happened outside nearby Target Center in January, as he was selling tickets for a Timberwolves game. He had stepped inside Target Center to warm his hands, he said, when two police officers cited and released him.

Jackson said white ticket sellers could do the same thing "all day long" without being stopped, "but it seems like they got us singled out."

Jackson was convicted, ordered to pay a $50 fine and given a stayed sentence of 90 days in the workhouse on the condition that he stay out of Target Center for a year. Now he can't enter the venue, even as a paying customer.


June 2015 Calendar
Monday, June 08 2015
 
Written by The Circle Staff,
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June 6

Indigenous Bloc of the Tar Sands Resistance March
Indigenous Environmental Network invites you to join with our relatives from Tar Sands and pipeline impacted communities to say no to the extreme energy projects that harm our lands, peoples and ways of life! Let's march together as Indigenous communities to fight for Mother Earth and our future.
Bring your drums, bring your signs, bring your relatives!
10 a.m.: Water Ceremony; Noon: March Begins both at Lambert Landing is on the Mississippi River right by Union Depot in downtown Saint Paul; 2 p.m.: Rally at State Capitol Lawn featuring speakers from impacted communities and a performance by Indigenous hip-hop artist Frank Waln.

For more information, visit www.tarsandsresistance.org or email This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it


June 10

Grow Your Own with Mashkiikii Gitigan

Subjects will include: Growing, Harvesting, Preparing and preserving food, Traditional Native American methods, Foraging, Sacred tobacco, Wild rice, Nutrition, Diabetes and heart disease prevention and Diabetes Screening. Healthy Living Starts with Healthy Eating!

5:30 to 7:30 p.m., free to all, drop-ins welcome!

Mashkiikii Gitigan (Medicine Garden), 24th Street Community Urban Farm, 1316 E. 24th St., Minneapolis, MN. For more information call Christina or Annelie at 612-436- 2676 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it


Regional and Local Briefs: June 2015
Monday, June 08 2015
 
Written by The Circle Staff,
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MILLE LACS HOSTS PRENATAL ADDICTION SUMMIT

ONAMIA, MN – Elected leaders and staff from Minnesota's tribal communities and other experts gathered May 28 on the Mille Lacs Indian Reservation for a summit on the issue of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome.

American Indian communities in Minnesota face some of the highest rates of NAS, or children born addicted to opiates. Tribal leaders from Bois Forte, Red Lake, White Earth, Leech Lake and Mille Lacs were in attendance along with policy experts from the Minnesota Department of Human Services, staff from U.S. Sen. Al Franken's office and Minnesota Sen. Chris Eaton, (DFL-Brooklyn Center).

Mille Lacs Band Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin called the problem of opiate-addicted babies "the single greatest threat to the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe." She said recent data on the prevalence of neonatal abstinence syndrome on reservations was a wake-up call for tribal leaders.

Benjamin also highlighted the strength and resilience of Indian people who have overcome disease, genocide, and relocation. "If there is one thing I'm convinced about, it's that we have the ability to fight this epidemic right here in this room.”

Joe Nayquonabe, a retired chemical dependency counselor and Mille Lacs Band elder, opened the event with a prayer in Ojibwe, and he also shared his perspective on the opiate epidemic. "It strikes everybody. It doesn't discriminate. It's not only affecting us but it's affecting our children. The creator gave us a wonderful body, and it's up to us to take care of it."

Additionally, the agenda included comments by Bois Forte Chairman Kevin Leecy, White Earth Secretary Tara Mason, Red Lake Chief Darrell Seki and Jim Koppel, Minnesota Department of Human Services Assistant Commissioner.

It was the second summit on the crisis of American Indian children in Minnesota. The first summit took place in September of 2014 at Bois Forte Reservation in northern Minnesota.


National Briefs: June 2015
Monday, June 08 2015
 
Written by The Circle Staff,
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ONEIDA NATION APPROVES GAY MARRIAGE

GREEN BAY, WI – The Oneida Nation of Wisconsin is the latest in Indian Country to join the marriage equality movement.

Tribal law currently defines a marriage as a union between a "husband and wife." The phrase will now be replaced by the word "spouses."

Members of the business committee unanimously approved the change at a meeting on May 26. The new law goes into effect on June 10.


NATIVE STUDENTS IN UTAH FACE HARSHER PUNISHMENT AT SCHOOLS

SALT LAKE CITY – Native American students at public schools in Utah are more likely to face harsher punishment than their peers, according to a new study.

Based on data from the Department of Education, researcher Vanessa Walsh found that Indian students are 3.8 times as likely to face disciplinary action compared to their white counterparts. They are 7.5 times more likely to be expelled and 7.1 times as likely to be referred to law enforcement.

"Utah is pushing American Indian students into the pipeline at alarming rates," Walsh wrote in “Disparities in Discipline: A Look at School Disciplinary Actions for Utah's American Indian Students.” "In 2011, the most recent year for which data is available, this student population comprised the smallest student demographic in the state and the was most frequently expelled, referred to law enforcement, and arrested for school related incidents—all the most severe forms of school disciplinary action," the report stated.

The study contained some alarming examples of how Indian students are singled out. Fifty-five students, from kindergarten through sixth grade, were referred to law enforcement in 2011, compared to zero for white students.

More recently, two Indian students were reported to law enforcement for drinking two soda bottles from a refrigerator in the teacher's lounge. "This is a theft," the disciplinary report stated. Natives represent just 1.3 percent of the student body yet they account for a larger percentage of disciplinary actions, according to the study. In the Murray school district, for example, the disparity was incredibly high – nearly 50 percent of Indian students received a disciplinary action, compared to around 11 percent for white students.

Only 65 percent of Indian students finish high school, according to 2014 data cited by the study.


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