Broomfield Police play rough game of Cowboys & Indians with Idle No More Native Americans, literally

Photo by Jolynne Locust WoodcockBROOMFIELD, COLO.- Fellow Occupy members and I joined in a “round dance” flash mob at a local mall on Wednesday night, as part of the growing IDLE NO MORE actions whose First Nations grievances include the despoiling of indigenous treaty lands by tar sands extraction and the XL pipeline, and sovereignty issues about which Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence is now on a 22 day hunger strike. Two previous round dances in Colorado had proceeded uneventfully but no sooner had we begun in the Flatirons Crossing Shopping Center, located between Denver and Boulder, that mall security and police began routing the round dancers out the door. It was a rather comical scene, peaceful dancers, many of them children, being blocked and herded straight out into the cold, no warning or explanation being given. Of course the round dance stopped in its tracks, people instead dancing in place, gently waving their signs, as security told them they had to leave or face arrest. Apparently, because we didn’t hear it. Drummers were let to finish the first song, after which they packed up to leave. Once the drumming stopped however, we were surprised to hear security and police officers relaying their instructions, that “anyone who looked Native American” should be made to leave.

Of course we questioned what we were hearing, and were then threatened with immediate arrest and ushered out the door. At the same time, police officers were running in a continuous line into the mall to conduct sweeps as many flash mob participants were still arriving from all directions. Many got lost on the way, or miscalculated the traffic they’d encounter, so arrived late. In essence however, people without signs, not singing or dancing or drumming or holding their ground, were summarily being ordered to leave the mall immediately, based upon the clue that they looked Native American.

If my “Cowboys and Indians” analogy seems kinda flip. Imagine squads of Broomfield and Westminster police, roaming throughout the FlatIrons Mall checking people’s faces to see if they qualify to be expelled. The mall wasn’t cleared of all shoppers, just those who looked indigenous. A fairly scarey game, considering that many of the Idle No More participants were children.

I can tell you part of the thrill for me, of the round dance flash mobs, as a European immigrant, is feeling the surroundings begin to fill with indigenous faces. That is turned around in the hostile atmosphere created by the police, as western law enforcement resumes its traditional role of hunting down those it pretends don’t belong.

I had invited a friend to bring her young family, part Native American, to join the dance. Thankfully they couldn’t make it. What if they’d had, and come late, and were walking through the mall full of shoppers, and were encountered by squads of police who sought them out of the crowd and inexplicably ordered them to leave the premises? What’s any American child to think of that?

I have a young nephew who just that day I’d seen playing in his policeman’s costume, with a new policeman’s badge he got for Christmas. What would he have thought of that?

Plus, how’s that for irony? Natives considered trespassers. Even the mother of a girl being detained, was not allowed past to inquire what was happening, because she didn’t fit the profile of Americans who have rights, or a profile the police thought should be afforded a status of dignity or respect.

Meanwhile, three female participants, one of them 17-year-old Idle No More organizer Cheyenne McCallister, were being detained inside.

When Occupy Colorado Springs activist Patrick Jay tried to document the actions of the police from outside the mall window, he was pounced upon by Bloomfield Police for not having removed himself sufficiently from the area and thus was held to be trespassing. When I tried to take pictures of his arrest, I was arrested.

Held in separate police cruisers we could hear over the police radio that fifteen Westminster Police Officers were on their way armed with “shields and gas”. An officer on the scene told the dispatcher to turn them back because they were no longer need. As we’d seen, the mall and even the parking area filled with police vehicles had been completely cleared. But then a report came that a Native American group was reconstituting itself in “Parking lot E” and so the officers in riot gear were summoned. We learned later that they did arrive to menace the crowd, which decided to reconvene across the street at a McDonalds instead.

And now consider the further travesty, when a local news crew arrived to cover the story, they told only the mall’s side, because the IDLE NO MORE folks were prevented from reaching the news crew because it would mean trespassing! They could only watch, then watch on television as the story completely misrepresented the facts.

Patrick and I were eventually booked and held for several hours, like the others, then released to a warm welcome from Idle No More organizers who’d waited the whole evening. Our court date is February 20, the two women and one minor have court the next day, February 21.

Photo by Jolynne Locust Woodcock
(First and last photo credit: Jolynne Locust Woodcock)
See more at Facebook/OccupyColoradoSprings

Eric Verlo

About Eric Verlo

On sabbatical
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14 Responses to Broomfield Police play rough game of Cowboys & Indians with Idle No More Native Americans, literally

  1. Avatar Lisa Kume says:

    To mall security and local police and policy makers, both for the mall and for local law enforcement, if you find it necessary to eject Native peoples from having a flash mob in this mall, you’d better eject all other groups involved in flash mobs in this mall in the future. If it is this way for the Natives, it BETTER be the same for ALL other flash mob groups. Otherwise, if you allow other groups to have flash mobs here, while not allowing Naitive Americans to do the same, it deems the removal of this group as being done based on the groups racial affiliations, and is supression of our right to gather peacefully. If there’s a human rights attorney out there, we need you. We know this isn’t legal. It’s police harrassment and biased treatment of one group of people.

  2. Avatar cory smallboy says:

    I was arrested for nothin.. i askd dat cop r u workn here jus to vpick us up fr nothin.he said “yup thats what im here for ” no one there to hear that

  3. Avatar cory smallboy says:

    Back on my rez..

  4. Avatar Jordan says:

    Thank you to you and Patrick for coming to support our movement even though you all are not indigenous yourself. My sisters and I have seen you both at the rallies. Thank you for risking everything for supporting us and Chief Spence

  5. Avatar Mare says:

    Thanks Eric for giving an accurate description of the events…I was naive for not even considering that I could actually be arrested! It wasnt a crime until the officer said it was…but I didnt exit fast enough thus being handcuffed…total humiliation…it was the same officer who captured all 3 women! I think he struggles with some racial and gender issues.

  6. Time to get the federal gov. involved or at lest ACLU. We can get some good exposure on this. I would never have thought that any city in Colo. would do this hate crime.

  7. Showing the true Police State in this country is only directed to the Native People of the land.

  8. Avatar Julie says:

    Oh, the irony of arresting Indians for TRESPASSING. It makes me proud to say that’s
    my 24 year old daughter in the photograph, on her knees, in handcuffs. (Caption: “Hey!! Don’t you walk away from me; I’m talking to you!!!) She was arrested immediately after asking a Broomfield police officer why another woman had been arrested. Here’s her best comment that night: “I guess the only Indians you want here at Flatirons are the ones on the tee shirts.” I’m so proud of you and I’m sorry, Kelleigh, that it wasn’t nearly as much fun as the beautiful round dance at Cherry Creek, just a few days earlier. It’s amazing what fear and racism will engender, and manifested by those who are entrusted to support rule of law.
    SHAME ON YOU, BROOMFIELD. You get NO MORE of my patronage.
    IDLE NO MORE, thank you for bringing these outrages to the consciousness of white America.

  9. Avatar Tony Logan says:

    In the US, where money is the God now worshiped by the not so indigenous corporate loving people, you were desecrating a sacred business temple called the shopping center. $$$$$$$ You might have scared the timid pale faces that go worshiping there if you had been allowed to continue to present other alternative ideas and concepts ahead of the idol deity of the shopping center, which is BIG POWERFUL $$$$$$$. The cops had no alternative but to round you all up because of that. No Peace is ever possible with the god idol of $$$$$$$, slavery, and war. We now live in a monied ‘meritocracy’ and you people just have little money left. Who did you think you are?

  10. Avatar Arora says:

    I lived in CO for 2 years, in CO Springs, and in Divide, what I found out while living there, was a living nightmare of hell with CO police. My kids have NEVER been in Trouble..in CO they were Beaten and violently Abused by cops!..CO has the most notorious police forces for Police Brutality, in particular against minorities and MINORS! When I contacted the ACLU there were Lawsuits & investigations going on Against Denver, & CO Springs, in particular because of NUMerous USES of EXCessive Force against Minors and their Parents!..Accusations to the ACLU included things like Children and teens alike have been physically harmed… hospitalized & some maybe ended up dead do to treatments received during things involving the police, and the punishments given to the kids by the cops and by the court systems there..If you are going to hold any kind of round dances in CO…I would suggest for the safety of all that you find owners of properties, that want to help and have open type property areas where you can be seen by the larger viewing public…BUT you are on Private Property where the GASTAPO- CO Cops can’t touch you without VIOLATING A SHYT TON OF LAWS THAT WILL PRotect you..BY The way..DON’t EXpect Court to be any better than the cops..the WHOLE JUDICIAL SYSTEM THERE IS CROOKED and badly messed up…THEY DON’t follow laws like…Civil rights at all! If CO was the only place left on the earth to stand….I’d float on an iceburg first!

  11. Avatar Glenda says:

    I attended the idle no more flash mob at The Tacoma mall a week ago. It was a peaceful event for the natives, the songs and drumming were great, it was a beautiful peaceful event or so I thought…. I looked at the shops every where, they were shut down and gated, there were swat teams and police everywhere ushering the group out and every one left there was no altercations. The part that disturbed me was the half truth given on channel 7 news. Yes they mentioned that it was a peaceful demonstration by the Native Americans, not once did the media say that the police basically thew us out. I am tired of half truths and also the inability to have dialog. when will this happen… when people can have understanding and empathy instead of force and greed?

  12. Avatar Gary from the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana says:

    This was suppose to be a peaceful demonstration about the issues the indigenous ppls of canada are facing. The Prime Minister (Harper) passed a bill C-45 that tramples on their treaty rights. The government once again is pushing the Natives aside for their benefit…another form of geonicide. Chief Spence is on a hunger strike and is in her 27th day because Harper refused to meet w/her. This is exactly what government does…their motto is “we do as we want and forget about others!” All Chief Spence wants is a unconditional meeting with him. So, with his refusal, “Idle No More” movement has grown throughout Canada and into the United States of America and abroad…Because of this movement and how the world’s nations have viewed him, he is now willing to meet w/Chief Spence on January 11th….I was appalled at this disgraceful act of insanity. This was not a riot but a peaceful round dance. It would have been over in 10 to 15 mintues. But, because there was a flood of Native Americans gathering, the police department and the mall probably thought…”Oh, no! We can’t have those dark savages making trouble here!” Then with batons and arresting ppl (Children and Adults) of color (I surmise they were arresting anyone who was if color), they bullied a respetul minority who is against the Bill C45. My question is this…Did the police department do any research on this peaceful movement and why did not the mall personnel do the same. I believe it is time for the Mayor of Broomfield and the Chief of Police to make an apology to those ppl who were discriminated and incarcerated. The officials and cops are no different than Prime Minister Harper. You all should be ashamed of yourselves. As for the Native Americans and non-Indians who participated in this PEACEFUL movement, hire a lawyer and sue the mall, city, mayor, and police department. Lawyers come forth!!!!! And SHAME ON YOU BROOMFIELD MALL PERSONNEL AND LAW ENFORCEMENT….

  13. Avatar WiZaRd Of The Wolf Nation says:

    Hey Broomfield mayor and cops!!!
    It’s not the 19th Century anymore!!
    Stop acting like the Nazi S.S. and
    GET A LIFE, man!!!
    We’re not gonna conform to your
    right-wing political nonsense and corporate greed,
    ya’ square-brained turkeys!!

  14. Avatar Dingo says:

    Another good indication that shopping malls will form no part of our survival as a species

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