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Indian Country Today

The death of George Floyd, while in custody of the Minneapolis police has sparked nationwide protests against police brutality and the treatment of African Americans and other People of color by police across the country. 

One Native group that took a vocal stand against the police is the Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors Group. The group is made up of 30 American Indian organizations in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area. 

In a letter condemning the killing of Floyd, Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors Group called attention to the mistreatment of American Indians and Alaska Natives. 

Robert Lilligren is the president of the Metropolitan Urban Indian Directors Group. 

Here are a few of his comments:  

“I served for 12 years on the Minneapolis City Council and during my time there, there was a case where police officers actually urinated on a Native person." 

“I know that he really was retained on the force. He was not fired. I don't believe there was even any discipline that happened around that case.”

“There was a really famous example of police transporting a Native man in the trunk of their squad car that caused quite a bit of community concern.”

“Former officer Chauvin was involved in the death of a Native man here as well.”

"Bob Kroll (president of the Minneapolis Police Federation) he is famous here for his racist statements, his hostility toward people of color, his hostility sort of to the whole city of Minneapolis.”

“We identified at the MUID level, the union, as one of the tools that really hold the racist and violent and abusive culture in place here in the city of Minneapolis Police Department. And I was surprised how quickly others identified that as well.”

“That has become a human cry here. Concerns about the Minneapolis Police Federation and specifically its president Bob Kroll.”

“He is standing his ground. He is not moderating his position at all. If anything he is more aggressive about the way police things should happen here in Minneapolis, he's defending the officers that were involved in the death of George Floyd.”

“He has vowed to defend them through the entire process.”

“I was really proud to be able to vote for Janee Harteau (Bad River Band of Chippewa) from the city council for her appointment when she was first appointed.”

“She did a very thorough job of engaging communities that traditionally have experienced abuse from the police. She was very engaged with the Native community here.”

“There were some incidents that happened during her term in office that caused her to lose the confidence of the mayor which made it difficult for her to do her position. So, she did resign from her position.”

“There are a lot of investigations happening around the Minneapolis Police right now. Our state's human rights commissioner filed a complaint as a human rights complaint, a civil rights complaint around the treatment of Minneapolis Police officers.”

“There's an FBI investigation going on around the murder of George Floyd.”

“I think we have more confidence in these outside investigations rather than internal investigations.”

“There were a lot of concerns for our East African communities during the most aggressive nights of protesting and riots and looting. A lot of targets, a lot of statements, directing people there. There was a lot of concern about our Native community here as well.”

“The community here was incredible the way American Indian Movement, AIM, and the people of Little Earth of United Tribes, which is a very densely populated housing development here. People stepped forward to protect our communities.”

"You know, it's hard to be happy with anything kind of going on here right now, but I am satisfied that our attorney general, Keith Ellison is stepping in.”

“He’s been involved in issues of misconduct of police for a long time in his career. I have more confidence in his ability to prosecute this case than say the county attorney.”

“People in the Native community were out as protectors and not protesters.”

“The local law enforcement, the National Guard had an understanding there. Then we were able to develop a sort of a rapport so that it was clear people weren't violating curfew. We were protecting our assets.”

“It's kind of leveraging the next generation from those activists that founded AIM, establishing anchor institutions and this real sense of place here.”

“So what do we really need to do to address the deeply ingrained racism in our institutions, in our culture?”

“I think the death of George Floyd has given us another way to step off and have a more authentic and hopefully effective conversation.”

“Nine (of thirteen) of our council members made an announcement last weekend that they want to dismantle and defund the police here.”

“It's to have those authentic conversations, bring the voices of both who are most impacted by police misconduct and police brutality into the policy making realm. It's something that we can do here. And so now we need to be engaging people, engaging the Native community.”

“Demilitarization is vital. I witnessed the militarization of the police here, firsthand post 9/11. There was just a huge effort at the federal government to get these military tactics, equipment training into the local policing. And it does impact the relationship.”

“There is no real direct relationship between someone in riot gear and the person they're trying to protect.”

“Our mayor here is committed to the demilitarization of the police to stopping what he calls ‘warrior tactics’ within the police department.”

"(MIGIZI) was the only building on that block that was not vandalized but happened to burn cause all the other buildings were burned. AIM and our other protectors protected the building.”

“The community is rallying. I'm sure it will come back stronger and better than it was.”

Also in the newscast, Jourdan Bennett-Begaye has the latest numbers of positive COVID-19 tests in Indian Country.

The anchor and executive producer of the newscast is Patty Talahongva.“The community is rallying. I'm sure it will come back stronger and better than it was.”