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American Indian Movement of Colorado

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Friday, September 24, 2004

Anti-racist faces 6 years in prison for actions in opposing a racist parade

New Port Richey is the site for an annual Chasco Fiesta Parade. Each year, the parade includes a float dubbed the "Krewe of Chasco float" which is made up of white guys in native headresses and other Hollywood Indian garb.

Last March, 62 year old Daniel Callaghan(Irish), of the Society of Citizens Against Racism, ran in front of the float with a PVC pipe on his arm and attached himself to a bolt. In short, he locked down.

Callagan went on trial to defend against charges of disturbing a lawful assembly, obstruction of a highway,disorderly conduct and battery on a law enforcement officer;the last charge a felony. The felony charge carries the possibility of a 6 year prison term.

This is what the prosecutors contended in regard to the felony charge.

Prosecutors say Callaghan disobeyed officers' orders to get out of the road. Officers testified that when they tried to unbolt Callaghan from the street, he slammed the plastic pipe down on highway patrol Trooper Eric Madill's hand, causing minor injury.

``He was doing that intentionally because he didn't want us to get in there and unhook that thing,'' Madill testified. full article

Yesterda, a jury found Daniel guilty on all charges.

The jury of three men and three women found Callaghan guilty on all four charges, including battery on a law enforcement officer, disorderly conduct, obstructing a highway and disturbing a lawful assembly. Callaghan, a retired Marine who now sells rare books on the Internet, barely reacted to the verdict.

When sentenced by Circuit Judge Michael F. Andrews next month, Callaghan could be given more than six years in prison.

"He risked everything so he could have the right to stand up for what he believes in," defense attorney Steve Bartlett said. "You have to admire him for that."full article

When sentenced next month, Daniel faces 6 years in prison.Six years in prison for a scratch on a cops hand? The prosecutor felt that little scratch was more severe than the legacy of racism that Daniel was protesting.

"The only scar left is the scar on Trooper (Eric) Madill's hand," Tremblay said, improvising on Bartlett's argument that American Indians have been wounded by the continued misappropriation of their culture.

Bartlett, who said an appeal will be filed, said Callaghan had tried various means to stop the krewe, including talking with members of the group and seeking an injunction. Only after that failed, Bartlett said, did Callaghan hatch the plan to derail the parade.

The stunt was designed to uphold public morality, Bartlett argued, by calling attention to an offensive display. The jury apparently thought otherwise.

Asked if the conviction were a setback to efforts to protest the krewe, Bartlett said his client's actions would eventually be seen as just, not unlike those of other historical defenders of civil rights.

We believe that Daniel Callagan will be judged by people of conscience to have been on the right side of history. We'll end this post with a letter from Daniel, in which he asks for people to continue the work he started.

Letter from Daniel Callagan
Dear Friends,

A jury of six New Port Richey citizens
found me guilty on all counts, in my stopping the
Krewe of Chasco float during the March 20, 2004
Chasco parade. For stopping the parade for 5 minutes,
and allegedly causing a tiny scratch to Officer
Madill's hand in the process of arresting me--a
scratch he said he treated himself with pressure,
causing no scar and nothing requiring medical
treatment. Officer Madill also stated that he
couldn't say I did the injury deliberately, and that it
might well have been an accident. So I may go to
state prison approximately one year for every
minute of the civil disobedience--so much for
justice in Florida.

I expect there is rejoicing among those who
promote and belong to the Krewe of Chasco, and
clearly, my efforts to end this Red Minstrel show
are seriously handicapped for the next several
years. I will do what I can, but I can do very
little now. It is up to you to continue our efforts to
end this last vestige of racism toward American
Indians. Please, don't fail.

Semper Fi,
Dan Callaghan,
President-Director, SCAR.
7108 Daggett
Terrace, New Port Richey FL


At 6:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i beleive that he was doing the right thing and that police people are dookieheads.

At 8:57 AM, Anonymous Daniel Callaghan said...

Dear Friends,To update our efforts to end the demeaning of American Indians in New Port Richey, Pasco County, state of Florida, my appeal to the Florida Appellate Court after my conviction for causing a tiny cut on a state trooper's hand while several policemen struggled to detach me from blocking the Krewe of Chasco float two years ago--it has been rejected without comment, so I will begin serving my sentence within the next few days. I have submitted an emergency motion and brief to the Florida Supreme Court seeking justice, but I expect to fail there as well. It is up to folks like Peter Matthiessen, and Russell Means, and Paula Gunn Allen and ordinary citizens to fight the good fight now. I have done all that I can do. Semper fi, Dan Callaghan, President, SCAR; Social Justice Chairperson, Unitarian Church of Tarpon springs, Founding member Pasco Chapter, NAACP.


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