Friday, June 6, 2008

New Zealand: US Police Point Taser at Kiwi


US police point Taser at Kiwi
Friday 06 June 2008
By Stuff
http://www.stuff.co.nz/4575169a10.html
A New Zealander who took his family to join Mohawk, Paiute, Navajos, Choctaw and the American Indians making a symbolic "Longest Walk" across the USA has been threatened by police in Ohio.
Michael Lane - a lawyer who participated in the first "Longest Walk" in 1978 - intervened when police confronted marchers in Columbus Ohio.
Squad cars and paddy wagons pulled up walkers in Columbus, and one held a Taser about a metre from Mr Lane's head.
A journalist accompanying the walkers, Brenda Norrell, reported: "Michael Lane, who arrived on the walk with his wife, Sharon Heta ... and their children from New Zealand, was targeted by police with a Taser.
"As dozens of police came at the walkers, a police officer held a Taser three feet away from Lane's head," she said on independent news websites.
Police had not checked whether the Longest Walk marchers had notified the Ohio Department of Transportation of their route.
Mr Lane, who has a law degree from the Arizona State University, said the worst part of being targeted by a police officer with a Taser was that it terrified his daughters who only knew that a gun was being pointed at their father's head.
He has been accompanied on the 5800km walk by his wife, Sharon Heta, of Tuhoe, and their three children, Merehuka, Ranguitau and TeRuihi.
It started at Alcatraz Island near San Francisco on February 11, and is headed for Washington, DC.
The 1978 walk, in which Mr Lane took part, began with 17 participants in San Francisco and ended five months later with a gathering of tens of thousands of people in Washington.
That walk helped block a congressional effort to annihilate treaties that protect Indian sovereignty, and also helped spur passage of the 1978 American Indian Religious Freedom Act.
"We are walking to protect sacred sites and protect tribal sovereignty," said Mr Lane. He said the walkers should not be intimidated by police who attempt to tell them where they can walk.
"If we give in to them, we lose sight of who we are."
But Mr Lane said he was not focused on meeting with US politicians when he reaches Washington: "We are not going to be lobbying US Senators and Congressmen, we don't give a hoot what they say."
He said there was a need to protect the tribal sovereignty of Native Americans, because the abrogation of treaties was ongoing.
Today it continued in the form of offering money for Indian land or demanding waivers of sovereignty to build casinos.
Ms Heta said she was walking to raise awareness of the struggle by the Maori people for recognition of their own independent sovereign nation.
Each walker is asked to do a minimum of 16km a day, and the group including the New Zealanders is taking a northern route, while a smaller group is taking a southern route between the coasts.
- NZPA
(Note: Kiwi is a person from New Zealand) Photo Michael Lane with daughter on Longest Walk/Photo Brita Brookes

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