evening Protesters Injured And Jailed - Your Help Is Needed!
Sunday, December 20, 1998 - noon
Minnesota highway protest camp assaulted, destroyed
Camp Coldwater at Minnehaha Park, Minneapolis, was assaulted by state police this morning around 4 pm, December 20. Tear gas was used in clearing the encampment; over 600 officers were used. About 30 arrests were reported. All the camp structures were destroyed by police who came in riot gear in dozens of squad cars and set up roadblocks throughout the area, according to a Midwest Treaty Network observer on the scene. Republican Gov. Arne Carlson ordered the assault as one of his last acts before leaving office, and chose a day when the main news focus will be on the Clinton impeachment.
Environmentalists and Native Americans have been at the site for four months, to prevent the rerouting of Highway 55 through the park, including a rare oak savanna and Native American sacred site. The state government has planned a highway in Minneapolis through the area south of Minnehaha Falls, between the existing road and the Mississippi River, connecting Hwys. 55 and 62. Among these oaks lies an area of freshwater springs known as Camp Coldwater. The Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota considered the area sacred, and are now seeking to repossess an area of land around Coldwater Spring and the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers.
Most people do not support this road; already over 8,500 signatures have been collected of area residents and park visitors who oppose the re-route--a number that officials still maintain is unrepresentative of the community. The Final Environmental Impact Statement, which the Minnesota Department of Transportation (DoT) will say includes adequate community representation, was completed over a decade ago, thereby excluding many of today's residents. The protesters had proposed instead turning the Coldwater site into an intercultural Peace Park.
MINNEHAHA FREE STATE RAIDED BY 600 POLICE!
The Minnehaha Free State/Liberated Zone in Minneapolis MN was raided Sunday morning at 4am by 600 State Troopers in what Minnesota Governor Arnie Carlson has called the largest law enforcement operation in Minnesota history. Police fired tear gas into all seven houses occupied by a coalition of Big Woods Earth First! the American Indian Movement (AIM) and the Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Community. 33 people were arrested, 20 of them from lockdowns. (included an activist in a Santa suit locked into the chimney of one of the homes)
Many of the protesters where tortured with pepper spray and pain compliance holds. One protester who was locked by the neck to a tripod had his life put in serious danger when the police overturned the tripod without taking any precautions to protect him. The extent of his injuries remains unknown. Media were blocked from the site by a wall of riot police and there are extensive reports of police brutality.
During the raid various items sacred to the Mendota Community were destroyed. The sacred fire was extinguished in violation of federal laws which protect Native American religious expression. The sun dance tipi was destroyed, and the sweat lodge, site of numerous ceremonies over the past four months of occupation, was burnt down. Governor Carlson was on site gloating to the press and warming himself by the fires of burning camp materials.
The protesters occupied the homes to block a new highway project intended to take a few minutes of the driving time from downtown Minneapolis to America's largest mall, the Mall of America. The highway will cut through a park, destroy homes and one of the last remaining examples of old growth oak Savannah as well as sites sacred to the Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota community. Over the course of the last 4 months the Dakota have been fighting for federal recognition as part of their efforts to protect the oaks and a sacred spring from destruction. Sunday was the protesters 133rd day of continuous occupation..
For more information about the situation call the Big Woods EF! hotline at (612) 362-3387. Your support is desperately needed to help with the legal defense and to keep the resistance alive. Checks can be made out to MNRAG and mailed to Big Woods EF! PO Box 580936 Minneapolis MN 55458-0936. There will be a rally at the site Monday the 21st at noon. 5307 Riverview Rd Minneapolis
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