Archive for the ‘reverse racism’ Tag

Race with Us? Really?   9 comments

Pouring my coffee over her head occurred to me!

In case you don’t know, Starbuck’s has decided to instruct the rest of America on race relations in this country. In doing so, they’ve managed to lose my business for a while.

RACE WITH US!

It’s what was scribbled on the side of my husband’s coffee cup last night. It was also scrawled on the side of his friend PJ’s cup. We ran into PJ and Susan in the parking lot of Barnes & Noble. Susan and I talked quilting while PJ and Brad discussed how the early spring is messing up their snow machining. The guys got coffee and the gals got coffee. Susan is Athabaskan Indian. I’m part-American Indian (but white people don’t usually see it unless it’s pointed out or if I’m with someone for them to compare me to and see similarities). Brad is Irish-American, I think PJ is German-American – blond and his last name could be German (okay, I never thought to ask).

The problem?

Susan and I had no such missive on the sides of our cups!

RACE WITH US?

It is not just white people in this country that need to have a conversation about racism. I’m a tribal member. Trust me. Reservation Indians are the most racist group I know personally. The Tanana Chiefs Conference just called for a 100-year plan that includes (in my opinion, but Susan agreed with me) some highly racially-oriented ideas. My black-nephew-in-law took the election of Barack Obama to start having a race conversation in which he has decided all “white” people are racists who need to be confronted about what he supposes is going on in our heads.

Kind of like Starbuck’s.

Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed of a day when a man might be judged by the content of his character not the color of his skin. I thought we were there when we elected Barack Obama. That would seem to have been a pretty clear indication that blacks at least were welcomed into the circles of power not just by the elites, but by the voters. Sadly, I was mistaken. This has been the most racially-divisive presidency since Richard Nixon.

These days having “white” skin immediately means you need to be educated about race relations by bigots with dark skin. Brad and PJ, two white men, need the conversation. Susan and I apparently do not. The message I got was that if you’re a person of color, you’re exempt from this race conversation. Or maybe it’s that if you’re hanging out with a person of color, you don’t need that conversation. If you are white and you have friends who are white then you clearly need the conversation. For the record, PJ and Brad are married to BIA-recognized tribal members and have children who are BIA-recognized tribal members.

So now you know why I wanted to pour my coffee over the barista’s head.

I resent the insinuation that if I am not of a certain racial group I must be a bigot. Until this conversation started coming up every other day, I personally hadn’t thought much about racial issues for a long long time. That’s right. I’m an American Indian who had not thought much about racism. Why? Because I don’t experience a lot of racism in my life. That may be because I don’t go looking for it. The world is full of rude people of every skin color. I don’t assume they are rude because they are racists. I assume they are rude because they are human. Maybe ignorance is bliss or maybe I only encounter racism when the person is truly being a racist, when I can’t avoid the reality.

Like when the Starbuck’s barista scribbles “Race with us” on the side of my husband’s coffee cup, but not on mine.

And, by the way, overt racists are (in my experience) almost always people of color. White people got it knocked out of them a long time ago. Maybe there are still racist thoughts kicking around in their heads that come out when they drink heavily, but for the most part they don’t say it and they don’t act on it. Reservation Indians and certain communities of black people, however ….

If we want to have this conversation, let’s invite everybody to the table. Let’s be honest about racism in America and admit that while white people have learned to keep their heads down and their mouths shut on the subject, people of color feel their skin color have been given a pass on their own racism.

RACE WITH US?

Intimidation on the Last Frontier   Leave a comment

I will no doubt be accused of being a racist for this. This rant is not racially motivated. It is justice motivated! It is prompted by reverse racism and bullying by people who are not interested in the truth, but only in their pet murderers being released from prison.

Fairbanks Four Apologists Site

Fairbanks is going through a “difficult” time on racial issues right now. As a rule, you don’t find a lot of racism amongst Alaskans. Maybe it’s the cold weather that keeps us all recognizing we need one another or maybe it’s just the culture of live-and-let-live. Growing up, we all went to the same schools, we all played with one another, and we all lived in whatever neighborhood we could afford to live in. My parents (a Swedish-American married to an American Indian-Irish woman) lived in a middle-class neighborhood. There was a black family behind us and two Native households within sight of our front door. I’m sure some of the parents had racial attitudes. They were products of their generation. The culture didn’t allow those attitudes much public display and I don’t recall ever hearing racial comments on the playground. During the Civil Rights movement, we watched the protests on television, objected to the use of water canons and jails to shut down civil liberties and then objected to the riots that tore apart cities. All the adults agreed — Dad, Mom and Mr. and Mrs. Johnson (the black couple) — that prejudice was wrong and violence on either side was counterproductive.

This is not to say that racism does not rear its ugly head here now and again, but I’ll be honest — it’s usually FROM the Native community and they’re usually accusing non-Natives of being racist toward them. Anything can be considered “racist” by Tanana Chiefs Association. Close a school in a village because the student count has dropped below 12 students and it’s racism. A cop shooting and killing a drunk driver who tried to run him over with his vehicle is racist. A white man who defends himself against a mugging by Natives is racist. A jury of citizens finding four young men guilty of beating to death another young man is racist.

When the “Fairbanks Four” (which really sounds too cutesy and boy-bandish for people convicted of murder) were found guilty of murder, the Native community began insisting almost immediately that the prosecution and verdict were racially motivated.

Basic story:

John Hartman was a 15-year-old kid walking home from a party late at night in November 1997. At the trial, it was shown that his head was stomped in and there was strong evidence that he’d been sexually assaulted, though no semen was found. It was during Alaska Federation of Natives and the Permanent Fund Dividend had been paid out just days before. Fairbanks was full of people from the villages and others who had money to blow off steam. Four young men were observed mugging a man in the parking lot of the Eagles Lodge. An eyewitness would later identify the Four as those young men. The Native community will insist no one could see that far. The jury had doubts and conducted an unsanctioned experiment to prove to themselves that they could see that far and then they convicted the Four. The salient point is that the Four came to police attention originally because they were already up to no good. When John Hartman was found beaten and dying, the police suspected it was a group of men and these Four were already suspect in mayhem. When the Four were arrested, they didn’t immediately lawyer-up and three of them gave statements to the cops that indicated knowledge of what happened to Hartman. The judge later ruled the statements inadmissible because, he felt, the Four did not sufficiently understand their right to remain silent.

I’m going to be honest right now and say, had this been four Caucasian boys, the judge never would have ruled that. The Four were given preferential treatment because the Native community was putting pressure on the court to treat them differently than others. The argument at the time was that such protections were not part of their culture. Their rights were read to them. They were apparently too drunk to understand Miranda or just to get the simple thought that you don’t talk to the police without a lawyer present. One of the jurors was interviewed anonymously after the verdict and said they based the conviction on a “reasonable man” standard. How many groups of four Native fellows could have been running around Fairbanks that night looking for people to injure? There was little physical evidence linking the Four to John Hartman. DNA was still in its formative stages of forensic evidence and Alaska isn’t Las Vegas. But the evidence of the Four being involved in the other mugging and their statements containing details of the Hartman attack, one of which was signed, was enough to go to trial. Without the confessions, there was still enough evidence to convict. It should also be noted that Eugene Vent, the likely ringleader of the group, had an extensive juvenile history of violence, which was well-known in Fairbanks, which was why the venue was moved to Anchorage. It is true that it would have been very difficult for anyone in Fairbanks to believe that THAT kid was innocent — not because of race, but because we knew who he was. At the time of the trial, there were allegations of intimidation and manipulation by the Native community to prevent testimony supportive of a conviction. None of it ever was prosecuted, but the people who experienced, both as victims and as perpetrators, know who they are and what they did.

For 15 years, the Native community — operating on funding from the powerful Tanana Chiefs Association — has pursued the release of these murderers. They will insist that it’s not Native culture to sexually assault people. Bull! A young woman confronted her elders at AFN this year on just that subject. They will insist that it’s not Native culture to mug and assault people. BULL! Fairbanksans have been mugged and assaulted by groups of young Native men on many occasions. As a junior high student I was assaulted by two Native girls who didn’t like that I smiled at one of their boyfriends. Truth will out, folks! Your culture is no more fair and gentle than anyone else’s. Young men drunk off their asses and with a suspicion that they can get away with anything will try to get away with something and when you feed them a steady diet of “the white man is keeping you down and deserves your hatred”, you shouldn’t be surprised when they take their anger out on kids walking down the street minding their own business.

There were extensive news articles run on the Hartman case during the time of the trial (1998), but those articles are no longer available on line. If you search for the Fairbanks Four, you find only the supportive news articles that bring the verdict into question. As a former journalist, I find that suspect and evidence of “scrubbing”, which is often done by politicians to get rid of old news articles that might be inconvenient to their careers, but could also be done by an organization with a lot of money who want Alaskans to have to trust to faulty memory. Suspicion Number One.

So a month or so ago, William Holmes submitted a letter to the Innocence Project (a program I actually support, usually) confessing to the murder of John Hartman. William Holmes is serving double-life for some other bad crimes, so he has nothing to lose. Suspicion Number Two. His story claims he was only the driver and didn’t actually see the crime. Suspicion Number Three. He says the main instigator of the assault was his friend who is also serving a life sentence, but rumor has it they had a falling out some time ago, perhaps over what the accused said to police about Mr. Holmes. Suspicion Number Four. Mr. Holmes letter, which is available if you follow the link at the top of this post, doesn’t mention the sexual assault at all and doesn’t provide enough time for there to have been one. Suspicion Number Five.

The Native community doesn’t like to admit that male-on-male sexual assault is fairly common in some villages. They’ve always insisted that there was no sexual assault on John Hartman. Alternatively, they’ve tried to blame the bruising and tearing of his anus on activity at the party John Hartman had just left. The kid was found with his pants down around his ankles. There was bruising and tearing. There was no semen, but ejaculation isn’t necessary to constitute sexual assault and it’s possible, even probably given the temperatures in Fairbanks in November, that something other than a penis was used. You can draw your own conclusions, but the fact that the letter avoids the topic is Suspicion Number Six for me.

So why am I posting this? I reblogged the FairbanksFour article a while back. The administrator of that blog is demanding I take my reblog down. He claims it’s fully copy-righted. I don’t see that, but okay. Seems more likely to me that it’s the same bull that doesn’t want to hear the other side of this story. I’m taking it down, but not without stating clearly that it is my opinion that the Fairbanks Four are guilty, that the courts here in Alaska are being pressured to release them based on “evidence” that is questionable, and that the administrator of the blog “Fairbanks Four” is an intimidating bully unwilling to allow free exercise of opinion, based on facts that should be attainable on the Internet, but have been scrubbed to more easily obtain the result desired by those who don’t care if murderers walk Fairbanks’ streets because they’re convinced of their innocence based upon — not evidence — but their race.

So, while I will take down my post, I will do so under my own terms, by posting the original text of my post AND the comments that followed here.

_____________________

I’m reblogging it because I do not believe the assertions made here. I think the bloggers do, but I want to point something out about the letter. I followed the case at the time because I knew the family very casually. I didn’t attend the trial, but I did follow the news coverage of it. There was compelling evidence for believing that these four men did what they were accused of doing. This letter does not change my stance. Why?
John Hartman was sexually assaulted, but William Holmes recounts a story that doesn’t provide time for a sexual assault nor does he say that any of his friends mentioned a sexual assault. Moreover, he puts the stomping on just one member of the group and it isn’t himself. Why is that? Did the buddy, who is now doing time elsewhere, fall out with him? Does he see this as a way of making him pay for something? And, then there’s the reward. It’s large and we don’t know what other financial remunerations are behind this. Does Holmes have kids, a mom, someone who will suddenly be rich? The sad fact of the matter is that convicts lie for all sorts of reasons and Tanana Chiefs Conference has a lot of green reasons that might apply.

It’s not as though someone doing double-life is going to suffer a longer sentence for this. Alaska doesn’t have a death penalty so he doesn’t have to worry about that. The buddy he cites is also doing life, so there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain from making this up.

It would have been believable if he’d remembered that the 15-year-old kid stomped to death that night was also brutalized sexually and that sexual assault at sub-freezing temperatures usually takes more than 30 seconds.

Just might take on it. Fairbanks Alaska attracts all kinds and not all of them worth attracting. I’m sure Holmes earned his double-life and I’m equally sure Jason Wallace earned the life sentence he is doing. I’m also convinced that Eugene Vent, Kevin Pease, George Frese, and Marvin Roberts earned their sentences too. A fact that the Fairbanks Four organization never seems to want to deal with is that three of the four confessed to the crime and two of them provided details that only witnesses could know. So, did they stomp John Hartman to death or did they just stand by while somebody else did that? Either way, they earned their sentences.

The following is the “conversation” the blog admin had with me.

____________

FF – This post reflects a poor understanding of the filing. First, even way back in 1997 the medical examiner did not believe a sexual assault took place. Also, the filing was 148 pages and include three separate statements that were given individually without knowledge of the others and support the same scenario. Additionally there were a hundred more pages of evidence. If you want to make a dissenting post review the filing before doing it.

FF – This blog posting shows no knowledge of the full filing. We chose to post the handwritten confession alone in keeping with the nature of our approach. The 148 page filing contains three separate statements given individually without knowledge of the others that outline the same crime, motive, and participants. It also contains information that corroborates the factual content of the confession. In addition, there are all of the expert affidavits addressing the deception and demonstrating factual and physical evidence like causative instrument forensics and scientific evidence that impeaches the witness testimony by Arlo Olsen. This post does not demonstrate a basic understanding of the full filing, as as such is not adequately supported. By all means read the filing and make a determination, but read the filing before you make one.

FF – Furthermore, you cite unsupported statements. Three of the four did not confess, and not only do we not avoid their interrogations we link to them in their entirety and have posted about them all in detail. John Hartman was not sexually assaulted – clearly you recall the early information that indicate that but the medical examiner did not believe that had happened, nor did the soft tissue expert. Also, William Holmes is not incarcerated in Alaska. Furthermore, he lives in prison. He has nothing to gain and clearly is risking his life, he lives in an environment where “snitches” are killed routinely,

FF – I see these comments remain unposted. Please remove our content from your site, it is fully copyrighted and this is an ill informed post. You do not have our permission to publish our content.

Lela –

I’m not a lawyer nor have I reviewed your filing. My comment was on the letter and the letter only.

I am a concerned community member who does not want to see four dangerous individuals released into my community on a technicality. The letter reads very coached, very manipulated and the source is highly suspect. My OPINION is that it’s not trustworthy.

The fact is that what I stated would be verifiable from newspaper accounts from 1997. Those newspaper accounts were available on the web at one time, but now appear to have been “scrubbed”. If I were still a reporter, I might go to the microfiche for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner and the Anchorage Daily News and find the actual articles and post them here. Perhaps you forget that this trial was covered by the Alaska news media and that those of us who live here actually followed the trial. I’m not going to (probably) do a paper chase, because we’re working in the area of OPINION here.

At the time of the trial certain salient details stood out. Hartman’s pants were down around his ankles and there was bruising found. The medical examiner didn’t rule out sexual assault, but when pressed by the defense attorney, he admitted he’d found no semen. In other words, it was sexual assault but whoever did it didn’t ejaculate or didn’t use their penis. The community group who has worked so tirelessly to get the convicted released have tried to blame others for the sexual assault, saying that it happened at an earlier party, etc. That always seemed to me to be obfuscation. Reason says the sexual assault most likely happened at the same time as the assault that killed him. It stretches incredulity to believe that there were two separate assaults in a single night.

Confessions can be signed (which I believe one of them was) and confessions can be verbal. Being deemed inadmissable doesn’t mean they aren’t still true.

It will remain my opinion that your boys are guilty until a JURY actually rehears the case and rules otherwise. Why do I say that? Because an awful lot of money is being thrown around to win this release and that makes all new evidence suspect.

I predict that this will never go before a jury for rehearing, but that these convicted murderers will be released by a judge. I further predict that if these men are released into the community, at least one of them will be involved in a violent crime within a couple of years of release and we’ll all be talking about it in the News-Miner blogs, about how this tragedy might have been avoided, if only we’d kept them in jail.

Again, just my OPINION. And, I have a right to that as do you. We also both have the right to contest each other’s opinion. It’s called freedom of speech.

(Note that he posted FOUR times before I responded. That’s a bully for you!)

LELA –

We each have a right to our OPINION. Yours is that it’s just fine to let murderers run lose in our community because certain segments of the community think they’re innocent. Mine is that a jury of their peers looked at the evidence and came to the conclusion that it was no shadow of doubt that these men committed the crime of which they were accused.

When a second jury reviews the new evidence and rules otherwise, I’ll admit that I was wrong. If that same jury rules that the new evidence does not support that conclusion, will you admit you were wrong?

Unfortunately, a judge is going to decide this rather than a jury and I don’t trust the judge to be unbiased.

But, hey, in Fairbanks all non-felons have a right to carry concealed, so I hope the next potential victim is well armed.

 

LELA – I didn’t say William Holmes was incarcerated in Alaska. I said he was incarcerated and that Alaska does not have a death penalty, so if he were found guilty of the Hartman murder, he wouldn’t have to worry about being executed. Since he’s doing a double-life somewhere, I assume that he would be expected to finish his sentence in that state.

LELA – Don’t put it out on Word Press if you don’t want it reblogged. You’re welcome to take your posts down and that should eliminate the link.

A month later —

FF –

Remove our content, both images and text from your site. Reblogging is not a feature exempt from copyright violation – do your research. You can link to a post as a hyperlink, that is permissible, but you cannot repost our content here.

We are not interested in having our content used in this manner, There are plenty of sources for the same material to be found elsewhere with more lenient sharing policies and no objection to the use.

Again, factually incorrect. We welcome differences of opinion and are happy to share with dissenting sites so long as the factual information they cite to support their opinion is referenced and accurate, but do not want shared content when the factual assertions on the second site are incorrect,

Your assertions regarding the sexual assault are, again, incorrect. Your characterization of the medical examiner’s testimony and description of the crime scene are not accurate. Furthermore I am not aware of any effort by supporters of the Fairbanks Four to blame a sexual assault on any other party – to the best of my knowledge the supporters have deferred to the stronger theory that there was not a sexual assault. You can read the trial transcripts and coroner’s report if you want the information available.

Your understanding of the process is also flawed, and you are presenting information as fact that is simply incorrect. A judge will not decide this issue. A judge will decide whether or not the petition is granted – they have petitioned for a trial by jury, and a judge will determine whether or not they receive one.

Opinion is defined as a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.

We are interested in having a healthy dialogue going about this case, but only one based on fact or knowledge.

Again, we are respectfully requesting that you remove our actual content, written and image, from this site. You may, in keeping with our copyright and wordpress guidelines, post a link to our content. If you would like permission to use our content please correct the inaccuracies here and use citations when you reference testimony, media, etc.

______________________

 

My final statement here is that the Fairbanks Four website is not interested in the truth. They want the Four released and they don’t care if they’re guilty or not. If there were any real journalists left in Alaska they would be following the money and finding out how William Holmes or someone in his family benefited from his confession.

Will there be a re-trial of the Four? I doubt it. I suspect they will be released without a second trial because much of their conviction was based on their involvement in the Eagles Parking lot mugging and the principle witness there, Arlo Olson, is dead. In fact, a great deal of the testimony related to this case is no longer available because of the time that has passed. A judge will rule it was a wrongful conviction, there will be no retrial (or if there is one it will end in a mistrial due to lack of evidence that was available 15 years ago). There will be a large exchange of money from the State of Alaska to these men and they will come back into our community to work further mayhem with a veil of invisibility because the State of Alaska will be afraid to accuse them of anything unless they’re found standing over the body with a bloody knife. If the Fairbanks Four website was interested in the truth, they would welcome alternative viewpoints and accept criticism when it is due. They don’t. Instead, they intimidate those who disagree with them and try to make them shut up. That speaks volumes to me.

I won’t be spending more time on this. This will settle the discussion as far as I’m concerned … at least until one or more of the Four hit the news again as perpetrators of violent crime. Hopefully, their next potential victim will be well-armed and end this problem for good … well, except for being a test if Alaska’s stand-your-ground law actually works.

John Hartman’s mother died a few years ago. It is fortunate that she has passed, because she spent the last years of her life thinking some small justice was done for her son and she won’t be around to see that taken away. Maybe TCC and the community think it’s enough to give people a plausible scapegoat for the miscarriage of justice that is being done here.

It’s not!

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