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American Indian Movement of Colorado

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Thursday, January 20, 2005

Defenders of human rights and justice acquitted in Columbus Day trial

20 January 2005
City and County Building Denver, CO

For the past fifteen years we, the defenders of justice in this case, have worked to Transform Columbus Day. We have attempted to move this city, this state and this country to a more respectful and a more honest future. Today, six members of this community joined with us, acquitting us of all charges, and supporting the position that the days for championing genocide against indigenous peoples through the celebration of Columbus Day, should be over.
In 1992, the City of Denver attempted to prosecute members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) for blocking the Columbus Day hate speech parade. After a three day trial in 1992, the Denver city attorneys were humiliated as the AIM defenders were acquitted of all charges. The city has yet persisted in its defense of hate speech by defending and protecting the Columbus “Convoy of Conquest.”
In 2000, the City of Denver betrayed its agreement with the opponents of the Columbus hate speech parade and arrested 157 resisters. Ultimately, all of the charges were unsustainable, and had to be dropped.
Today, yet again, the city has been rebuked for its state sponsorship of race hate. The city seems willing to accept its role as heir to those cities like Selma and Birmingham, AL that used “the law” to maintain racist segregation. In the case it lost today, the city was unsuccessful in maintaining the status quo of ongoing racism against indigenous peoples.
The defenders in this case, as with the Transform Columbus Day Alliance, represent diverse communities, red, yellow, black, brown, and white. We stand united and in complete solidarity in opposition to all forms of race hate, and we affirm our commitment to a mutually respectful society.
All of us were charged with failure to obey the law, yet the city’s attorneys, supported by the judge, refused our justified efforts to discuss all of the appropriate and applicable law, including the Constitution of the United States, treaty law (especially treaties between the U.S. and indigenous peoples) and international law.
Despite the efforts of the city and the court to deny us a complete defense, the jury recognized the truth of our arguments joined us in the historical movement for justice. We commend the jury, and we all recommit ourselves to this struggle.
We now call upon the City of Denver to dismiss the remaining charges against the other 230 defendants in these cases. We call upon the people of Denver to condemn the abuse of their tax dollars through the prosecution of these cases, and ask the people of Denver to demand that the mayor and the city attorney cease the indefensible and fiscally irresponsible support of the racist and divisive Columbus Day “Convoy of Conquest.”


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