Apology From Boulder City Manager
Submitted by Lori Anderson-Finwall
Sam Lewin 1/26/2004
An official apology has been handed down in the case of an Indian sweat lodge that was closed down on New Year’s eve. The apology came after a meeting between a Colorado chapter of the American Indian Movement and the Boulder officials.
As the Native American Times reported last week, Boulder police and sheriff's officers say they stopped the ceremony because the man conducting the event, Lakota spiritual leader Robert Cross, did not have a permit to use Boulder Open Space land on Valmont Butte. Cross and Boulder officials later confirmed that he did in fact have the right to use the land. A sheriff’s department spokesman said they were not aware at the time that Cross, who had performed similar ceremonies at the same location, had permission.
"He may have permission, but he needs to get clarification,” Sheriff’s Sgt. George Dunphy told the Rocky Mountain News after the incident happened. "The officers probably thought it was a drunken party."
AIM promptly blasted the situation.
“The peaceful ceremony, which had been authorized to be held on Boulder Open Space land for years, was set upon by nearly a dozen police units, including two vehicles with attack dogs from the K-9 Corps. The police were unwilling to discuss the conditions by which the ceremony was taking place, they abused and disrespected Indian elders, children, and the spiritual leader conducting the ceremony.
Boulder's explanation that the incident was the result of a ‘misunderstanding’ is inadequate and demeaning to the Indian people who were humiliated by the experience,” said AIM in a statement. “We have called for an immediate meeting with Boulder City and County officials to receive an accounting for the unjustified behavior of the police. AIM also will present a list of remedies to the Boulder officials to address the New Year's Eve incident, and to prevent future disruptions from occurring. AIM has also requested that the Colorado Attorney General investigate this incident to determine if the police engaged in civil rights violations against the Indian participants.”
Those demands are on hold following the meeting between the group members and Boulder City Manager Frank Bruno. In fact, AIM was able to generate more than an apology: Bruno has agreed to let the city pick up the tab for any out-of-pocket expenses sweatlodge members may have incurred and open a dialogue with local American Indian leaders over cultural issues.
The officers involved also may be disciplined.
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