A meeting to swear in Chukchansi tribal council members was canceled Monday night after leaders said there was a "credible threat" made against those attending the meeting.
The group headed by Reggie Lewis that's in charge of the tribe's operations said they called off the meeting because of concerns it could be interrupted by protests from supporters of an opposing group led by Morris Reid. OP: NO first amendment issues here! They don't care about no stinking 1st amendement
Had the meeting on the rancheria near Coarsegold taken place, however, only Lewis, out of four winning candidates, was expected to be sworn in. Three candidates who won council seats in a December election were told last week that they will likely not be joining the new council. Their seats could soon be taken by other tribe members, either through a special election or appointments.
"Based on credible information forwarded to public safety officials and the history of past actions of a small number of agitators, the council determined out of abundance of caution that safety should rule the day," Lewis said in a statement.
Reid said his group wasn't a threat to the Lewis group's meeting because they were meeting at the same time Monday night in Oakhurst and had no plans to protest.
There was no information about a "credible threat" made to the Madera County Sheriff's Office, spokeswoman Erica Stuart said Monday night.
Roger Salazar, the Lewis group's spokesman, said the tribal council meeting and swearing-in ceremony will be rescheduled.
Three seats will remain open. The Lewis council issued letters of removal on Friday to Reid and one of his supporters, Dora Jones. That put them on the sidelines along with another Reid supporter and winning candidate, Dixie Jackson, all barred from the building where the tribal council meets. All three were involved in disputes with the Lewis council that started with a contentious Dec. 26 meeting and continued with a Feb. 27-28 standoff at the rancheria.
A hearing on the removal of Reid and Jones is set for April 24, Salazar said. Since Jackson was never an incumbent, she's not eligible for a hearing, Salazar said.
Read more about the cancellation here