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American Indian Movement of Colorado

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Saturday, October 09, 2004

COLORADO AIM AND ALLIES BLOCKADE COLUMBUS “CONVOY OF CONQUEST” – 200 ARRESTED

October 9, 2004
Denver Colorado

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: American Indian Movement of Colorado (303) 871-0463 or denveraim@coloradoaim.org - website: www.coloradoaim.org

COLORADO AIM AND ALLIES BLOCKADE COLUMBUS “CONVOY OF CONQUEST” – 200 ARRESTED

Today, in the streets of downtown Denver, 200 American Indian Movement members, and our allies were arrested in a principled act of civil resistance to the “Convoy of Conquest” (aka: Columbus Day Parade). Despite any denials by its organizers, the Convoy is a celebration of genocide against the indigenous peoples of the Americas, and it elevates the theft of our homelands, and the murder of our people, to national holiday status. To Colorado AIM this is intolerable and unjustifiable.

Our arrests are designed to expose a corrupt educational, legal and political system that refuses to describe the destruction of millions of indigenous people at the hands of Columbus for what it is: genocide. In a legal and political system that rationalizes and justifies the murder, theft, and ongoing betrayal of our peoples and nations, we, as the victims of such a system are under an obligation to expose such moral and legal bankruptcy, and we actively refuse to cooperate with legalized murder and theft. Our arrests today lay bare the facts (they are not allegations) that Columbus was personally responsible for:

* Trading in African slaves prior to his voyage to the Americas in 1492.

* Columbus was personally responsible for overseeing a colonial administration that directly led to the death of millions of indigenous people. (Father Bartolome de Las Casas, an eyewitness and a contemporary of Columbus, estimated that 15 million indigenous people died in the Caribbean prior to 15.

* Columbus advanced and expanded the arrogant European “Doctrine of Discovery,” claiming that superior, civilized, Christian Europeans and the right to seize and appropriate indigenous peoples territories and resources. This doctrine has been embedded into racist Federal Indian Law, and is applied today in the case of the Western Shoshone in Nevada and the Lakota in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

* More importantly, the legacy of Columbus allows the U.S. government to “lose” between $40 and 100 billion in money that the U.S. was to administer for the benefit of individual American Indians. The government has admitted that it deliberately destroyed evidence in the case, and it appears that the U.s. has no intention of finding or accounting for the money that it has stolen. See: http://www.indiantrust.com/

* The Columbus legacy is reflected in the psychology of the War in Iraq as the U.S. military continues to refer to any territory not under immediate U.S. control as “Indian Country.” Anyone who expresses a view other than the accepted, official version is considered to be “off the reservation.” Anyone who actually tries to understand the Iraqi people, as opposed to murdering them, is suspected of being a “race traitor” for having “gone native.” These small examples reveal a much larger and dangerous psychology of the ongoing war by the U.S. against indigenous peoples, and other “infidels and heathens.”

As was asked of Dr. Martin Luther King, some may well ask us today: "Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches, and arrests? Isn't negotiation a better path?" King replied, ”You are quite right in calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community, which has constantly refused to negotiate, is forced to confront the issue. The purpose of our direct-action program is to create a situation so crisis-packed that it will inevitably open the door to negotiation .”

Colorado AIM, like Martin Luther King, believes that tension in the streets can move a community beyond its racist practices.

With our arrest and our prosecution by the City of Denver, we intend to go on the offensive, to put Columbus on trial, to put his legacy on trial, to put the City of Denver, the state of Colorado, and the U.S. itself on trial. We will defend ourselves with an unapologetic political defense in court, and, just as we did in 1992, and in 2001, we will prevail.

Colorado AIM and our allies do not risk our liberty as a political ploy, or merely as a tactic, we believe that the time is overdue to challenge the most pervasive, and the most deeply seated source of racism in the world: the oppression of indigenous peoples. Columbus Day continues to operate as a justification of racial superiority, and it, in fact, creates demonstrable and verifiable harm to our children, and to their children.

For further comments on these actions, or on the philosophy behind the, please contact Colorado AIM at 303-871-0463 or denveraim@coloradoaim.com

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