Thursday, January 24, 2013

Robinson Rancheria Tribal Police Use Assault Weapons in Eviction

TheLake County Magazine has the story of EVICTION after disenrollment

It was a cold, rainy day on the Robinson Rancheria today, when two Tribal Police Officers came to the door of Monica Anderson's house on Quail Top Drive with assault rifles in their hands. Monica was being evicted because her husband belongs to the Duncan clan, a clan who Tribal leader Tracey Avila has spent the past year trying to eradicate from the Rancheria for no other reason than the patriarch, Clayton, speaks out against the wrongdoing he has witnessed there since Avila took control of the administration of the Robinson Band of Pomo people.

I spoke with Monica in December, a week or so before Christmas, when she had first receive the notice she would be evicted. She told me her story, a story that is becoming all to familiar. She has always tried to do the right thing for her husband Dwayne and 8 year old son Daniel Duncan. She worked hard and enjoyed her life on the rez in her Federally funded HUD townhouse. Her job as security at the Robinson's Casino was good enough, until one day she was fired, because she refused to change her statement regarding Tracey Avila assaulting a casino customer.

This was the beginning of the end of her current life for Monica. A cousin of Avila, Monica became a pariah because she refused to lie, and because she loves her husband, who happens to be a Duncan. The feud between these two families, the Duncans and the Andersons, has grown to epic proportions, and the time has come to put an end to it.

Today members of the Robinson's Pomo tribe brave enough to stand with Monica and her family, and stand up to the bullying that has resulted in dozens being removed from their homes, illegally, without reason: elders, families with children, animals slaughtered because there was nowhere for them to go. They came out to peacefully protest a tragedy of inhumanity in our own backyard.

Monica was not alone in becoming homeless today. Carmelita Mitchell came home for lunch and to change her clothes from her job at the hospital to find the tribal police nailing her windows and doors shut. She does not live in the Federal HUD homes, but in a neighborhood below the green townhouses on the hill. She was not allowed to remove her belongings, had been given no eviction notice, and she was at Monica's house with nothing but the clothes on her back. Asked why she was being evicted, she simply shrugged her shoulders and replied, "I party too much!" Both women have paid their rent faithfully. These evictions have nothing to do with money, at least not rent money.

Sometimes, when a person is evicted from tribal housing, always when disenrolled, if the council feels like doing it to them, they can also lose their monthly distribution from the casino. Over a hundred people have been dis-enrolled since Avila took the Chair. This is $2500 a year per person. So when they take it back from members, where does that money go? It is not being evenly distributed amongst the tribal members, no, it goes back to Avila, with no one questioning how the money is being handled. Anyone who questions things will be dis-enrolled, which means they will no longer be a member of the tribe. This, in spite of the fact that many of these people have lived here for generations.

So what is she doing with the money? An elder who was at the house today, in tears, told me she used to work at the casino. She happened to find a checkbook one day. When she looked inside to find who it belonged to she noticed that it was Avila's checkbook for a bank in Mexico. In addition, upon further investigation, she saw a sizable bank balance there, far larger than what would have been consistent with someone making her salary. "Now what is she doing with all that money in Mexico?" she asked.

Avila has a long history of money problems. She is currently on trial for grand theft for embezzlement of money from the Elem Pomo tribe, where she worked.

There was no sign of Avila today, however, as law enforcement gathered across the parking lot from Monica's house. After the two tribal police officers (who tribal members allege have not had the necessary training to be true Federal police, being appointed, not hired) showed up with their automatic weapons this morning, they gave Monica until 2:00pm today to get all her stuff out of the townhouse on Quail Top Road.

When I showed up at 2:00pm about a half a dozen LCS Officers pulled up in three cars. They positioned themselves across the parking lot from Monica's house and waited. I noticed Capt. Macedo in the group and went out to speak to him. He told me their role was as observers, and to only intervene if the tribal officers were threatened with violence.

Douglas Duncan, Clayton's other brother, showed up in traditional costume and handed the tribal police officers a copy of the Religios Freedom Restoration Act,,/wiki/Religious_Freedom_Restoration_Act, stating he was there to perform a religious ceremony to bless the house and the grounds. The tribal police did not interfere with the ceremonies that were held in the backyard and front of the house. As it became clear that their patience had run out and they were ready to come in, the group of about 20 Pomos gathered in the living room of the house in a circle, Doug was singing and keeping time with a stick.

Everyone was peacefully singing, when the tribal officers came up the front porch steps and took the locked steel screen security door off it's hinges and entered the house. The two tribal officers entered first, with Captain Chris Macedo, Undersheriff Patrick Turturici, the two cross trained DEA agents in their obligatory body armor as well as a half dozen deputies close behind. DA Don Anderson stayed outside the property.

The two tribal officers went upstairs first, the Pomos were still singing and chanting their prayers in a circle in the living room. They cleared the upstairs, making sure no one was up there. Then they entered the living room and walked into the center of the circle. Walking up to Dwayne Duncan and asked him to leave. He asked the officer if he could finish his song, and they said no. They began to put a tie wrap around his wrists, and he stood there arms at his sides, offering no resistance. When they had the tie wraps on his wrists they tried to move him out of the room.

At this time the Pomos moved in closer and closer, closing the circle with their bodies, arms to their sides, encircling the officers and Dwayne. They could not move. After several minutes of trying to push them through, the Sheriffs moved in, circling the group, grabbing people by their shirts, pulling others, and generally trying to move them out of the room forcibly.

They moved as one, swaying back and forth, Pomos, deputies and tribal police all in a flowing mob. Eventually they swerved towards where I was standing on the couch videotaping the entire event. They all fell forward, knocking me backwards and the couch I was standing on backwards. This created a safety zone for me, as the bottom of the couch was now up in the air, protecting me from the ensuing chaos. By this time people are screaming, the one DEA agent was throwing people around the room, I saw him push a woman flat on her back. At no time did any Pomo raise a hand or make any move against any of the officers.

Doug got taken down by at least three officers, I found myself face to face with Captain Macedo as he was knocked down in the melee. One of the Sheriff deputies had Doug in a choke hold on the floor. His fine traditional regalia strewn all over the living room floor. Capt. Macedo calmly told the office holding Doug to let him up, but that officer continued to hold him down in a choke hold. I did not see Doug so anything to warrant him being treated this way. He was tie wrapped and taken out of the building. It clearly was the Sheriff's deputies who were the agressors, as they ran unchecked throughout the room, grabbing and throwing people down and wrestling them to the ground. So much for not interfering with the situation...

I watched as Pomo after Pomo were grabbed, tie wrapped and taken away. They were taken to a holding room at the tribal headquarters building, where they will be cited for "Interfering with the duties of a Federal Officer".

The scene continued outside and was still going on when I left, but by this time there were twice as many deputies, and even Lakeport PD and the canine crew had shown up, it was a regular circus. Move along folks, the show is over...

Douglas Duncan was arrested and transferred to the Hill Road Correctional Facility. He has been charged with a felony charge of FORCE/ADW NOT FIREARM:GBI LIKELY which means assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury. Although no one witnessed him assaulting an officer, claiming he hit one of the officer in the head with his clapper he used to keep time. He was singing as he went down.  He also was charged with 2 misdemeanors, and has a bond of $30,000.


Anonymous said...

Maybe she is in business with your tribal member Raymond Basquez....didn't I read on here that he has a house in Mexico...and a son living close by in Texas? this where your tribe leaders hide the money also?...Mexico?

Anonymous said...

It is a sad thing that they have to result to treating their own kind this way. One day the good will win over the evil and greed that these Casinos have brought about. Good for the natives who stood against the evil, our prayers are with you.

Anonymous said...

im in shock that our native people are treated like this. no respect at all for are ways and customs. and worse it was done by other natives. im from up north and i just read this. im speachless

Anonymous said...

As a mortgage broker hawkesbury, I can call this one unconstitutional. In matters of eviction, we exhaust diplomacy as much as possible, but this has crossed the line with the presence of high grade firearms.

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