LOCAL BRIEFS March 2017

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DAKOTA ACCESS TRYING TO KEEP OIL SPILL DOCUMENTS FROM TRIBES

CANNON BALL, ND – With oil set to flow through the Dakota Access Pipeline within a matter of weeks, the project’s wealthy backers are still trying to keep key documents away from tribes and the public. According to the firm, “terrorists” or people with “malicious intent” could use the information to try to damage the costly and controversial pipeline once it becomes operational. But the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe are calling the concerns vastly overblown.

“Dakota Access has not provided any facts or evidence establishing that it will be harmed by the release of the designated material,” attorneys for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wrote in a filing in February.

At issue are 11 documents that have been withheld from the record as part of the ongoing #NoDAPL lawsuit. The tribes have long been calling for the release of the information, which could help them bolster their case against the pipeline and aid them in efforts to protect their communities and the water supply from oil spills.

The 11 documents are being kept under seal so it’s not entirely clear what they contain but Dakota Access has admitted that some of them do in fact address oil spills. A spill would impact the tribes, their treaty territory and their treaty-protected water rights to the Missouri River.

The sparring over the secret documents comes as Dakota Access completes the final portion of the pipeline at a site in North Dakota less than a half-mile from the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. According to a status update, the firm has already drilled a “pilot hole” under the Missouri and is “reaming” it, or making it larger, in order to place a pipe below the waters. Oil could be flowing anywhere between March 6 and April 1.

FORMER ST. PAUL MACY’S WILL BE RENAMED TREASURE ISLAND CENTER

ST. PAUL, MN – The Prairie Island Indian Community has bought naming rights to the former St. Paul Macy’s building and will call the downtown property Treasure Island Center.

The St. Paul Port Authority and Minneapolis-based Hempel Cos. are redeveloping the building in a joint venture. A rooftop ice rink will be used as a Minnesota Wild practice facility and by the community.

The Prairie Island Indian Community owns and operates Treasure Island Resort & Casino near Red Wing and Mount Frontenac Golf Course in Frontenac.

TEACHERS CALL ON LAWMAKERS TO FOCUS ON STUDENT NEEDS

ST. PAUL, MN – More than 40 teachers of color attended a Feb. 28 news conference at the Capitol to ask Minnesota law-makers to refocus their efforts on the actual needs of students of color, rather than creating new tax breaks for wealthy individuals and powerful corporations.

“There’s a giant disconnect between what we’re hearing the Legislature wants to do for education and what we’re seeing in our classrooms every day,” said Yzolde Chepokas, a teacher from Eden Prairie and member of the League of Latino Educators. “We’re coming to the Capitol to share what we know will benefit our students and their families. It’s time for the people who do the work to have their say.”

The event was organized by Education Minnesota’s Ethnic Minority Affairs Committee in collaboration with the Coalition to Increase Teachers of Color and American Indian Teachers in MN, Navigate MN, ISAIAH, Out Front, SEIU, the African-American Educators Forum, American Indian Education Professionals, League of Latino Educators, Pan-Asian Educators Forum and other community groups.

At the news conference educators called for an increasing state investments in restorative justice practices in schools, which they say have been shown to reduce racial disparities in school discipline, legislative changes to ensure schools are safe and welcoming for all students and staff and new policies to recruit and retain more teachers of color in Minnesota schools.

After the news conference, the teachers of color met with lawmakers throughout the Capitol complex.

PUBLIC MEETING ON CIVIL RIGHTS AND POLICE PRACTICES

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – The Minnesota Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights will convene a public meeting to examine the state’s implementation of The President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing recommendations as related to police practices and the potential disparate impact they may have on the basis of race, color, age, religion, or disability.

The meeting will take place on Tuesday, March 21 from 8:00 am to 5:15 pm, in the Frey Moot Courtroom at the University of St. Thomas, Minnesota School of Law, 1000 LaSalle Avenue, Minneapolis.

The Committee will hear testimony from community members, academics, law enforcement, policy makers, and members of the judiciary. The public will be invited to speak beginning at 4:15 pm. The Committee will accept written testimony submitted to mwoj-naroski@usccr.gov by April 21.