PRESS RELEASE – 12 August 2014
On August 6, 2014, ONC Tribal Council held its regular monthly meeting. The City of Bethel Acting City Manager, Greg Moyer and Police Chief Andre Achee were invited to attend. The ONC Tribal Council was very disturbed about a letter to the editor in the 7/23/14 edition of the Delta Discovery relating an incident of police brutality on an inebriated “Indian” male as witnessed by Linda Green of Tucson Arizona on the morning of 7/12/14. In addition to this letter, there have been numerous calls to the KYUK Friday morning Talkline show relating personal experiences of listeners and their encounters with the Bethel police force, indicating there may be a much larger problem lurking within our city police department.
We were assured by the city’s representatives that there was an investigation into Linda Green’s allegations of police brutality and similar complaints, Other incidents relating to members of the community feeling threatened and intimidated were discussed.
At the end of our discussion, ONC Tribal Council expressed that we will stand by our community members and visitors who are or feel threatened with abuse by those sworn to serve and protect. We are especially concerned about reports of young Native men, women alone on the streets at night and inebriates who have been targeted and have experienced brutality, excessive force or have otherwise felt threatened by Bethel Police officers and/or community services patrol.
At a meeting with the previous city manager and chief of police some time ago, the ONC was assured that the police department would be developing a culturally appropriate orientation for current and new police officers. This has not occurred.
We know that an investigation into the Bethel Police Department was initiated when George Young was acting as Chief of Police and Peter Williams, acting as City Manager. We are interested in the results of that investigation.
The ONC Tribal Council meets quarterly with the City of Bethel to discuss and resolve matters of mutual concern affecting our community. It has become increasingly difficult to address these matters with an unstable city administration and changes in the composition of the city council.
Understanding that there may people who are unwilling to approach City of Bethel administration or police department, the Orutsararmiut Native Council is encouraging anyone who has cares and concerns regarding actions of the Bethel Police Department, please call (907) 543-2608. This also applies to those from nearby villages and throughout the region.
As the Tribal Council representing the Native Village of Bethel, we cannot and will not turn a blind eye or a deaf ear to the cares and concerns of the community we live in. We will not tolerate this violation of basic human rights. Bethel is no place for people who have issues with Native People. We have come too far to allow this type of racism to continue in our community.
Gloria Simeon, President
Orutsararmiut Native Council