Police brutality was impetus for retrocession sometimes

 Police Brutality
Although only 4 respondents reported that police brutality was the impetus for
retrocession, the accusation is serious enough that it merits some attention here.
Responses were categorized as brutality when they involved violence committed by the
law enforcement on reservation residents.
But I also saw the times where he [the sheriff] would goad different
members into saying something, into getting smart with them, and he’d
handcuff them to a chair. And he had this big old flashlight, and they
would say certain things. And he’d grab that flashlight and whack them
across the head. And they’d fall over handcuffed, bleeding. But that was
the way that he taught you that you don’t dispute anything that he says.
That was a major

, major issue.
And he had a long history of abusing Indian inmates. He was accused on
numerous occasions of raping Indian women in the jail.
... because I do know when the police would pick up a woman here,
sometimes she didn’t get to the station ... in one piece. She was raped.
There’s nothing at the time we could do about it .... And same with the
guys. They’d get to the police station pretty beat up and leave that way.
This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.
When you go down to visit them, they’re pretty beat up.

 It’s always your
word against theirs, and naturally our word was never good enough, so
they always took the officer’s word.
Before retrocession, one tribe in particular fought back with traditional forms of
power and influence that were sometimes effective. As the following quote shows, in one
instance, community power won out over an abusive sheriff:
My cousin Vernon apparently had one of these dubious arrest warrants for
public intoxication or some kind of thing. He was really a harmless old
character. He was just crazy. The county sheriff was trying to arrest
Vernon and take him to jail. Vernon was related to us, and his parents
were gone, so he would always go to my mother’s and she would feed him
and take care of him and get after him to straighten up ... Vernon was
down there and resisting. He didn’t want to go to jail. Because the
previous time, my mother told us later, is that on the way to jail, the
county sheriff stopped between [the reservation and the county jail] and
worked him over. Really, really beat him up bad. Vernon wasn’t so much
concerned about going to jail, he didn’t want to get beat up on the way to
jail. That’s why he was resisting. This whole thing was taking place, and
my mother happened to drive by. I was kind of surprised at my mother;
she got out of the car and she said, “[Sheriff], what are you doing?” The
sheriff said, “I’m trying to take Vernon to jail.” She said, “For what?”
And I think it was public intoxication or some old warrant or something
like that. She said, “Well he doesn’t want to go with you.” He said, “Well
he has to go.” She said, “He’s afraid. The last time you took him to jail
you beat the hell out of him on the way to [county]. That’s why he’s
afraid.” She said, “You promise me you won’t beat him up on the way to
[county Jail].” Of course there are all these kids, a whole crowd was
there. Finally she said,”[Sheriff], will you promise me that you will not
beat up my nephew on the way to [county jail]?

” So ... all the kids were
watching him. He says. “... I promise you that I won’t lay a hand on
Vernon on the way to [County Jail].” Vernon was feeling pretty confident.
He thought he was going to get out of this whole mess because his
substitute mother, his aunt, was really going to bat for him. She says,
“Vernon, don’t worry about getting beat up on the way to [county]. He’s
not going to beat you up. Now you get in that car, and you go with him
and get that all straightened out. When you get it all straightened out,
come back. Come on up to the house, and we’ll feed you. 

Come on
home.” Vernon looked at the sheriff, he jumped in the squad car. They
took him to jail, and the whole incident was over in a second. But that
brings out the power that was going on in understanding what the problem
was. How both groups were not relating well. In that situation, the
This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.
resolve was a straightforward promise of a sheriff to an Indian mother that
her nephew would be treated fairly. They resolved it. About a week later,
Vernon came back, and that chapter of his life was past. Those kinds of
things were rampant. A lot of times, nobody came up and spoke to the
sheriff, or asked him what he was doing.
One of the results of police brutality was a fear of the police by the community.
Stories of rape, police beatings, and profiling became legendary in the community and
created a fear of law enforcement, even among those who had never experienced
brutality themselves.
And, like I said, I never had a run-in. I thought it was against the law to
be seen out at night, so I was scared. I’m 65 years old, so I go way back
being scared of the police. One time, one drove up to the yard just asking
for directions. Oh my God, I scattered to the cornfield! What did I do that
I had to run into the cornfield? (laughs) And my grandmother, she
goes,”Why is he coming here?” She gets scared, too.

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