[News] Denver police arrest 245 for blocking Columbus Day Parade

News at freedomarchives.org News at freedomarchives.org
Sun Oct 17 14:39:21 EDT 2004

Denver police arrest 245 for blocking Columbus Day Parade

by: Brenda Norrell / Indian Country Today 

DENVER - Calling it a ''Convoy of Conquest,'' American Indian Movement 
members and their allies, including Western Shoshone Carrie Dann, blocked 
the Columbus Day Parade in a protest of the Colorado holiday that 
represents genocide and the theft of homelands for indigenous people in the 

''America continues to fight the 'Indian wars' and one expression of that 
is Columbus Day,'' AIM organizer Glenn Morris told Indian Country Today.

Protesters focused on exposing the root of genocide in America as they were 
arrested for blocking the path of the Sons of Italy's Columbus Day Parade 
of bikers, limos and semi-trucks. Denver police arrested 245 people, 
including 44 juveniles.

Morris said Indian children as young as seven and eight chose to be 
arrested because of the injustice they face in U.S. schools.

''Every year they confront the silence of their ancestors' voices in their 
history classes.''

Further, Morris said when the 245 cases go to court, American Indians and 
their allies will not be the ones on trial.

''We intend to put Columbus on trial, the city of Denver on trial and the 
state of Colorado and the United States on trial for celebrating genocide.''

The protesters arrested included the event organizers, Morris, Osage 
professor Tink Tinker, activist Nita Gonzales, professor Ward Churchill and 
activist TroyLynn Yellowwood. Charges included interference, failure to 
comply, loitering and blocking a public street.

The protesters, led by Dann and Lakota from the ''Stop Lewis and Clark'' 
movement in South Dakota, first gathered at the state capitol before 
blocking the parade route Oct. 9. Facing 600 Denver police, many armed with 
riot gear and pepper spray, hundreds refused to move and were arrested 
without incident and booked. They were released from jail in the afternoon 
at about 3 p.m.

Morris pointed out that Colorado is the perfect place to halt Columbus Day 
because Colorado was the first to proclaim it as a state holiday in 1907. 
Far from being rhetoric, Morris said the bedrock of Columbus Day is the 
Doctrine of Discovery of 1492, which is the basis of all federal Indian law.

Morris, professor and chair of the political science department at the 
University of Denver, said Indian lands have been reduced from 2 billion to 
50 million acres, based on this doctrine. Columbus advanced and expanded 
the arrogant European Doctrine of Discovery, claiming that superior, 
civilized, Christian Europeans had the right to seize and appropriate 
indigenous peoples territories and resources.

This legacy of Columbus continues today and allows the U.S. government to 
''lose'' between $40 and $100 billion that the U.S. was to administer for 
the benefit of individual American Indians. The government has admitted 
that it deliberately destroyed evidence in the case, and it appears that 
the U.S. has no intention of finding or accounting for the money that it 
has stolen, he said.

This doctrine has been embedded into racist Federal Indian Law, and is 
apparent today in the case of the Western Shoshone in Nevada and the Lakota 
in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

''We're not talking about a hypothetical theory to Native people.''

Morris said the result of the Doctrine of Discovery was the loss of land 
and lives for Indian people. Today, the rhetoric of ''Indian wars'' is used 
in Iraq by the United States military as it seeks to take control of 
territory. ''All hostile territory in Iraq is still called 'Indian 
country.' People who fraternize with Iraqi are said to be 'going Native.'''

Columbus Day protesters followed the philosophy of Martin Luther King Jr., 
who expressed the hope that direct action would lead to negotiations. In 
Denver, the Transform Columbus Day Alliance struggles to bring a halt to 
the Colorado holiday. Other states, including South Dakota, have replaced 
Columbus Day with Native American Day.

Western Shoshone Carrie Dann, struggling with other Western Shoshone to 
protect their homelands in Nevada, and the Red Earth Women's Alliance 
helped organize and lead the marches, one in a local park on Oct. 8 and the 
culminating protest in downtown Denver on Oct. 9.

''Our arrests are designed to expose a corrupt educational, legal and 
political system that refuses to describe the destruction of millions of 
indigenous people at the hands of Columbus for what it is: Genocide,'' 
Colorado AIM said in a statement after the arrests.

The action was to ''expose such moral and legal bankruptcy, and we actively 
refuse to cooperate with legalized murder and theft.''

Morris pointed out the facts: Christopher Columbus was a slave trader. 
Columbus was involved in trading African slaves prior to his voyage to the 
Americas in 1492. Columbus was personally responsible for overseeing a 
colonial administration that directly led to the death of millions of 
indigenous people.

Father Bartolome de Las Casas, an eyewitness and a contemporary of 
Columbus, estimated that 15 million indigenous people died in the Caribbean.

Prior to the march, American Indians urged a letter-writing campaign to 
local newspapers, including the Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post, 
accusing both papers of failing to provide balanced coverage of the issues. 
Italian-Americans wrote letters pointing out that not all Italians in this 
country support Columbus and many stand with Indian protesters.

In preparation of a protest, Mohandas K. Gandhi was quoted: ''Civil 
disobedience becomes a sacred duty when the state has become lawless or 
corrupt. And a citizen who barters with such a state shares in its 
corruption and lawlessness.''

In 2003, Colorado AIM and allies were led by the late American Indian elder 
Wallace Black Elk and Richard Costaldo, a paralyzed Italian-American 
survivor of the Columbine massacre. They turned their backs on the parade 
and walked away. However, this year, they said was a year for direct action.

''In that spirit, we commend the organizers of the Festival Italiano, which 
was held in Lakewood on Sept. 25 - 26,'' Colorado AIM said, pointing out 
that it is the type of festival that fosters unity and understanding.

<mailto:brendanorrell at yahoo.com>brendanorrell at yahoo.com

Country Today

The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 863-9977
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://freedomarchives.org/pipermail/news_freedomarchives.org/attachments/20041017/2f2479b1/attachment.html>

More information about the News mailing list