May 18/97: Extreme police brutality at Onondaga gathering


[S.I.S.I.S. note: click HERE for advertisement for rally]


Onondaga Rally Attacked by 200 New York State Riot Police Squad

Over 30 people arrested, men and women beaten

Mohawk Nation Office - Kahnwake Branch

Iroquois Anti-Tax Rally On Private Land

Sunday May 18, 1997, 2:00 PM Eastern Time

All Nations, everybody demand immediate release of people who were arrested today while peacefully demonstrating 4 miles south of Syracuse on private land within Onondaga Nation territory. The ages of the people who were arrested ranged from an 11 year old boy to people in their sixties, and included one baby.

This attack by police follows on the heels of New York State losing its tax case this week against Indians and courts and the ...[fax illegible at this point]... Iroquois Chiefs council who signed a tax deal with Governor Pataki last month. Irving Powless and Oren Lyons were directing the New York State Troopers.




Date: Sun, 18 May 1997 21:41:14


Today at Onondaga there was a peaceful rally for people of the Confederacy to discuss the tax issue. The word we have been receiving is that the Onondaga County Sheriffs goon squad of about 150 goons stormed the meeting, which was held on private property. They came in swinging beating elders, kids, and knocked baby carriages over with the babies in them. This happened just as an Onondaga clan mother (no name available) was about to burn tobacco to open the meeting. Apparently, about 30 Onondaga men were arrested, lots of Tonawanda people arrested and beaten. Tuscarora and Cattaraugus were enroute so they, at least escaped arrest and beatings. We have a partial listing of names of those arrested:

        Andy Potter               Tonawanda  Female
        Sesily Snyder             Tonawanda  Female     16 years old
        Stonehorse Lone Goemen    Tonawanda  Male
        Malcolm Hill              Tonawanda  Male
        Art Montour               Mohawk     Male
        Paul Delaronde            Mohawk     Male
        Hoss                      Onondaga   Male
        Dale                      ?          ? 
        30 Onondaga Men
        11 Year old boy
Those known to be hospitalized:

        Melissa Smith             Tonawanda  Condition unknown
        Clan Mother               Onondaga   Condition unknown
Apparently there are 3 television station reporters inside the reservation, three roads are blocked by county sheriffs and they will not let the TV crews out until they turn over the video tapes they made of the melee. Some pictures have gotten out, but I haven't seen them yet. Also reported is that private videos have been confiscated with the tapes of this raid. It is the feelings of the people of Tonawanda that Pataki is trying to provoke someone into shooting a state trooper so that he can justify calling in federal marshalls or the national guard. I think that there is justification to think that they are trying to provoke an incident or they're trying to get even with Indian people for losing the battle a couple of weeks ago in Cattaraugus. This was a peaceful rally of support because we had just won a major court decision on this tax issue. The court said that Patakis agreements were illegal, unjust, and unenforceable and they ordered immediate release of the impounded tankers. Why then would we get rowdy if we were winning. The reports we have received is that Oren Lyons allegedly called in the troopers and immediately left the area and is now out of town, this report is not confirmed, and these allegations were made by some of the people who have returned to Tonawanda from Onondaga this evening.


Mohawk Nation Office - Kahnawake Branch
Saturday May 19th, 1997 - 12:32

Between 200 and 300 Troopers in a brutal, unprovoked unlawful attack arrested 29 men, woman and children of the Onondaga, Mohawk, Seneca, Oneida and Tuscarora Nation of the Iroquois Confederacy.

A Tobacco burning ceremony was being conducted on private property on Onondaga Territory when a horde of baton swinging Troopers converged on the people, clubbing people who were in their way, including a media cameraman whose video equipment was smashed.

An elderly woman in a walker was grabbed, knocked down to the pavement and then thrown into a police car. Another woman trying to help her was hit in the back of the head. The children, some as young as toddlers, were pushed, hit, chased, harassed and some arrested. One baby was thrown out of a stroller as it was pushed over by a trooper.

The men were beaten by 5 to 7 troopers at time. Those arrested were specifically targeted. In particular, one well known activist was slammed to the ground - "because I was assisting a medicine woman performing a medicine ceremony." She too was arrested. He was attacked by 5 to 7 troopers - "clubbed from behind, kneed, and one trooper attempted to snap my neck."

Some of the people arrested and other observers noted that many people were pushed aside as the troopers targeted certain individuals - all known activists. Meanwhile one of the treasonous so-called chiefs, Oren Lyons, was quoted as saying on national television, in effect - "it was stupidity to try and block a highway and there is no substitute for brains."

Said an Onondaga - "Governor Pataki is trying to get 5 corrupt chiefs to say they speak for us. According to our law, they don't." A New York State Official confirmed that Oren Lyons, Irving Powless and Ollie Gibson ordered the attack. These three now have 'special protection' from all those the troopers harassed.

Bail was set very high for misdemeanours, mainly trespassing, unlawful assembly and resisting arrest. A condition of their release is to not return to their homes in Onondaga. The property owner where the attack took place told troopers, "These people are my invited guests." He was arrested and charged with trespassing on his own property and can't go back there.

"It was overkill," said one observer. "Oren and NYS were mad over the Indians victory in the courts. NYS can't tax Indians and the deals between Pataki and these chiefs are illegal and ultra vires. This is their way of getting back. The Iroquois Nations people have been denouncing their chiefs for corruption, complicity in genocide and sending the NYS Police, of a foreign nation, on their people. When Hitler occupied France, every time he had trouble, he would send in the storm troopers to put down the resistance."

According to the Iroquois Confederacy, these chiefs have no right to sign anything with NYS. The relationship is nation to nation. This issue should be negotiated on a nation to nation basis with a impartial third party, according to natural, international, and constitutional law. "The chiefs must be getting payoffs such as being business license-givers on behalf of NYS and running casinos to enrich themselves."

The people are currently being released from the Public Safety Building in Syracuse NY following the posting of bail. Your help is needed to help us in our public fight to have the United States follow their laws.

(716) 532-4449
(416) 972-1573
(414) 635-8696
(514) 635-5595

Ronnie Papineau
(315) 469-6915


- posted to serendipity-L on May 20, 1997

Earlier information (unconfirmed) implicate Oren Lyons as the individual which called for the state trooper intervention. This has been confirmed, along with Irv Powless and Ollie Gibson. I have in my possession a copy of a document that bears the latter's signature. Said document is post dated, and requests NYSP intervention. It also has a "hit list" of who they want arrested. Most disturbing is the news that Darwin Hill, Emerson Webster and Leo Henry have issued similar invitations to the NYSP to squelch political opponents on their respective reservations. Also, please note that the terms set by white man courts specify that the respondant may NOT return to their homes or property if they live on the REZ. Here the local courts are carrying out disenfranchisement and banishment for these dogs! They know that if they tried it they would be thrown off by their own people. These individuals are using the state & local governments to do their dirty work.


Date: Mon, 19 May 1997 15:36:19
To: serendipity-L

Just finished talking with Stonehorse, he got out of jail this morning, $500 bail, Melissa is out of the hospital and in jail with $10,000 bail because she bit a cops ear. I hope she swallowed it so he can't sew it back on. Her husband Malcolm is staying in jail and refuses to come out until she is out. Most of the Tonawanda people are still there waiting for Melissa. They are now working on her bail. No reports of 7 year old in the hospital. The clan mother mentioned was not Esther, I guess she was 85 and from Onondaga.

Apparently the judge got mad and the chiefs from Onondaga and the state police and told them that they had just cost the state a bunch of money because they had no right to do what they did., and that these people were going to sue. The police also roughed up non-Indian supporters who had never been in trouble in their lives, and now they have been in jail. Also, the police roughed up the press and knocked them down, they are pissed. I hope now they will give accurate coverage on what is happening to Indian people in New York. I hope the whole world will find out what is happening to us here in this democracy. How come Indian people can't have human rights. It's like Pataki called in the 7th Calvary. They didn't care if they beat up old people or kids, even babies. I think he must admire Chivington, (Sand Creek) I also think that a good name for the state police is the 7th Calvary and they should change their name. We should be wearing the stetsons that were taken during the fight in Cattaraugus.

I am going to be getting Stonehorses charges and release papers tonight...Apparently, the chiefs at Onondaga have enacted a new law saying that it is illegal for more than 4 people to assemble on Onondaga. Also, the man who owned the property where the rally was being held was charged with trespassing on Onondaga. All those arrested were charged with trespassing along with other charges. The judge was astonished that the property owner was charged, it's absolutely crazy what these chiefs are trying to do. Total dictators is what they have been with the help of the BIA and the state. How blatant can they get and still continue to get away with it? I guess we'll have to wait and see.



from Syracuse OnLine,
Syracuse OnLine contains only a portion of the text, photos and advertising published daily in The Syracuse Newspapers.

Published May 19, 1997, in the Herald-Journal

Jeff Stage and Kenneth Terrell -- Staff Writers

Headers & Photos:

It was the first violent confrontation locally between police and those who are protesting state and federal policies for Native Americans on such issues as taxation of non-Indians on Native land.

New York State Police arrest Native Americans at the Onondaga Nation on Sunday after Onondagas and Senecas moved onto Interstate 81 to protest state collections of sales taxes on cigarettes and gasoline on Native land. Click here or on the photo for more pictures.
- Photo by Stephen D. Cannerelli

State police who overtook a band of protesting Native Americans alongside Interstate 81 on the Onondaga Nation Sunday afternoon said they felt the protesters were a danger to themselves and others.

As about 65 protesters stood alongside the northbound lanes of I-81 south of Syracuse, state police twice ordered them to leave the area, police said. When protesters refused to leave following the second command, about 100 troopers wearing full riot gear moved in with batons.

Many of the protesters retreated from the roadway, which had been closed to traffic. But some did not, state police said.

Police arrested 24 people, including three juveniles.

This was the first violent confrontation locally between police and those who are protesting state and federal policies for Native Americans on such issues as taxation of non-Indians on Native land.

A television station's videotape and Syracuse Newspapers photographs show troopers hitting some protesters with batons.

"Our physical resistance was enough to meet what they were directing toward us," said state police spokesman Trooper Robert Heath. Heath said protesters who resisted arrest swung hockey sticks and were swinging their arms.

No one was seriously injured, but several people, including two troopers, were hurt.

One trooper suffered a human bite wound and was struck in the face with a piece of wood. Another trooper suffered a scratched cornea when he took several blows to the face, Heath said.

Several protesters were hurt, but declined treatment, Heath said.

A protest fire began in the area 11 days ago. State police and sheriff's deputies have been monitoring activities around the fire.

Until Sunday, police did not try to stop the protests because they were on Nation land.

"We've been allowing the protest fire with the thinking that they weren't going too close to the roadway," Heath said.

The protest group had grown throughout the weekend.

State police feared something more than the protest fire might happen Sunday. A command post was set up nearby at the Nedrow Fire Department at 9 a.m.

On-duty troopers were called in from throughout Troop D, which is headquartered in Oneida and stretches from LaFayette to Pulaski, east to Marcy and west to Syracuse.

The protest started to form around 1 p.m. Sunday, when about 50 people gathered at the bonfire.

Children waved a banner bearing the face of an Indian warrior. On the highway, people honked car horns as they passed signs reading "The people shall unite" and "No taxes."

Around 1:45 p.m., some children walked onto the highway carrying banners. Minutes later, troopers in riot gear blocked the highway north of the protesters and began marching to the protest site.

Sunday's violent confrontation occurred because the protesters refused to back away from the highway, Heath said.

"After our captain asked them to leave for the second time and they refused, we moved in," Heath said.

"Their intent was to block the highway," Heath said after the encounter. "No pedestrians are allowed on controlled access to highways in the state of New York."

Heath said the area that the protesters refused to leave was within 15 feet of the highway, an area that the state believes is within its right-of-way.

"Public safety dictates that we have this highway stay open," state Police Capt. George Beach said. "It's dangerous for the people who are doing it, and it's dangerous for the motoring public."

Police said one person was struck and killed by a vehicle earlier this month in Western New York during a similar protest.

Many of the protesters were hit with nightsticks and pinned to the ground while their hands were cuffed behind their backs.

A girl, who protesters later said was 11 years old, cried as she was pinned to the ground by several troopers and arrested. A 14-year-old girl was removed from a car, handcuffed and taken away.

Today, three protesters kept watch over a bonfire that's been burning along I-81 as a protest to a temporary tax agreement the leaders of five Iroquois nations made with the state. They waved to motorists, some of whom honked in return.

The protesters who remained after the confrontation were angered by the arrests. They said the police initiated the struggle.

"This is what they want. We're right here in our own territory, and this is how our rights are protected," said Stone Horse Goeman, a Seneca, before he was arrested.

"This (protest) was very peaceful and this is what we get," said Nikki Sun, an Onondaga whose brother and sister were arrested.

"It's not just the tax. We're protesting the Bureau of Indian Affairs and New York state telling us who we should recognize as our leaders," Sun said.

Many others at the protest disputed the authority of recognized Onondaga chiefs Oren Lyons, Irving Powless, Kingsley Lyons and Paul Waterman.

(Photo) Why it's happening: Commerce issue and hard feelings come home to Onondaga Nation.

Copyright (c) 1997 The Herald Company.


Subject: Indian War in Western N.Y.
Date: May 19, 1997

Dear Sirs

Last night at 11pm E.S.T. on N.B.C. Chan# 2 out of Buffalo N.Y. I seen a Police officer BEATING a man with a large club while two other Police held him down. Also it was aired that a 11 year old girl was beat and a elderly lady as well. But I seen with my own eyes a crime that I want someone to do something about. You have the evidence in your hands use it and show the country what REASONABLE FORCE IS NOT! This N.Y. State Police Officer looked for the right place and delivered several blows with a large club to a man that was protesting what has been deemed by N.Y. State Superior Court as illegal action against these people. A blockade that left thousands without work and without heating fuel. I BEG of you to investigate this crime I watched on your network and take action to serve the public interest and safty. If you know what REASONABLE FORCE is then you will see what I seen on that video that was aired.

This whole thing is from a law suit against Pataki from a gas station chain that built a gas station on Nation land. Now thousands are effected. And Pataki's agreement for the Indians to raise there prices would be deemed criminal. Raising the price over $7.00 per unit to make him happy is insane. Please investagate this and get it into the open. The President has been asked to help by the Indians but no reply from him. I have the letter the Nation wrote and several other letters as the Nation cries for help before they are forced to draw arms agianst the State to protect their rights our forefathers gave them.

Get involved before the blood runs red around here. Please, for the hundreds of children caught in the middle of it all.

Thank You for your time.

Timothy A. Ginnery

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