Things That Matter

A Native American Veteran Shared a Video of Himself Being Tased By a Park Ranger on Sacred Grounds in New Mexico

Screenshot via hou5edm/Instagram

Recently, a video went viral of a New Mexico park ranger tasing a Native American man that sparked a conversation about the right non-Indigenous government authorities have to exert over Indigenous Americans.

Last Sunday, a Native American man named Darrell House shared a video of himself screaming in agony and calling for help as a park ranger tased him.

In the four-minute long clip posted to Instagram, House screams for help and writhes in agony on the ground as the unnamed park ranger continuously uses his taser on him. The woman recording the altercation repeatedly yells “What are you doing?” at the ranger while the ranger continues to demand that House show him his ID.

House, who grew up on a reservation and is of Navajo and Oneida descent, wrote a lengthy caption describing in detail what had transpired.

House wrote: “Today 12/27/2020, I was tased for being off trail at the Petroglyphs. I come here to pray and speak to my Pueblo Ancestor relatives. Even though I’m Navajo and Oneida, I honor this land.”

“Here, you will see a white man abuse his power. Both men pulled tasers on me after the first 1 couldn’t keep me down. This could have been a civil interaction. The law doesn’t work for the Indigenous. The government doesn’t give a shit about us. This was uncalled for. You see I’m clearly on the trail. I explained my reason for being off trail (which I shouldn’t have to. If anyone has the right to be off trail and wander this land, it’s the NATIVE INDIGENOUS COMMUNITY!”

“I didn’t feel I needed to identify myself for doing absolutely nothing wrong.
I’m traumatized. My left leg is numb and still bleeding. [My dog] Geronimo is shaking and hasn’t stopped. I’m shaking.”

Darrell House, who is also a military veteran, added: “I’m good people, the Marines I served with would agree. The many people I’ve crossed paths with–you know me.”

In response to the public outcry, the National Park Service said they were “investigating” the incident.

The National Park Service says that House was cited for walking off-trail at Petroglyph National Monument. House does not deny the claim, but says that walking where he wants to on sacred indigenous grounds is an ancestral right.

“Nature is what we’ve been worshipping … and protecting it has always been our job,” he told NBC News. “I am Native, you know. I have rights to this land. I have rights off the trail.”

House also doesn’t deny refusing to identify himself to the park ranger. “I didn’t see a reason to give my identification,” he said. “I don’t need to tell people why I’m coming there to pray and give things in honor to the land. I don’t need permission or consent.”

The local Albuquerque government has since become involved, releasing a statement that said the incident had been “elevated to the Federal investigation level”.

City Councilor Cynthia Borrego wrote that the incident was “troubling” and “uncomfortable” to watch and that her officer “recognizes and supports the investigation into any indigenous rights that may have been violated as a result of the actions taken in this unfortunate incident.”

The statement concluded by reiterating that Native Americans have the right “to practice their cultural beliefs as protected by the American Indian Religious Freedom Act and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Latino Southern California Man Dies in Police Custody After Footage Shows Officers Aggressively Beating and Restraining Him

Things That Matter

Latino Southern California Man Dies in Police Custody After Footage Shows Officers Aggressively Beating and Restraining Him

Photo via christian.ghc/Instagram

The family of a Southern California Latino man who died in police custody is demanding justice for what they believe was the unlawful use of excessive force.

33-year-old Ernie Serrano died on December 15th after being forcefully restrained by multiple police officers for an extended period of time.

Although authorities are claiming Serrano had a gun and was threatening their safety, civilian and police body cam footage paints a more complicated picture.

The gruesome civilian cell phone footage begins with Serrano being violently beaten on his arms by a police officer’s baton. The officer then wrestles Serrano to the ground before other officers pile on, tackling him.

The corresponding body cam footage shows a bloodied-up Serrano being forcefully held down by police officers on the checkout’s conveyor belt. The officers appear to be using their bodies to restrain him, heavily leaning on him.

Serrano repeatedly says “let me go”, and at one point even calls the officers out for using “excessive force”.

Appearing to be desperate, Serrano yells his name, his birthday and other important information, ostensibly in order to identify himself in case things take a turn for the worse.

As the video progresses, Serrano slowly begins to lose energy as multiple officers lean on his back. His pleas of “let me go” becoming weaker and weaker. Eventually, Serrano becomes motionless.

One of the officers that was restraining him calls out his name once he becomes unresponsive. When they realize he isn’t breathing, they lower his body to the ground and attempt to resuscitate him. But by this time, it’s too late. According to Riverside County authorities, Serrano was pronounced dead at the local hospital.

The authorities’ official autopsy ruled Serrano’s death a result of acute methamphetamine intoxication.

“While detaining Serrano, he continued fighting with the deputies and did not comply with their commands. At that time, a use of force occurred,” said Riverside Sgt. Lionel Murphy to Fox11 News.

But regardless of whether Serrano was using drugs or not, civil rights activists have long made the point that drug-use does not and should not equal an automatic death sentence at the hands of law enforcement. If someone is indeed high or intoxicated while interacting with law enforcement, the proper lawful paths should be taken to correct the behavior. People who use drugs do not automatically “deserve” death.

After viewing the footage leading up to Serrano’s death, his family believes that there are some inconsistencies to the police’s story.

For one, Serrano was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon and the Riverside police say they used force on him because he had a gun. But the footage does not show Serrano wielding a gun against the officers. Serrano’s family believes his death could have been prevented.

“Fear, anxiety, all of those elements were there that [the police are] trained to recognize. And instead of helping him when he’s saying ‘help’, what do they do? They keep him in that position and they’re smiling when they’re doing it,” said the family’s lawyer, Humberto Guizar at a December 21st press conference outside the grocery store where Serrano died. “They killed him. This is murder.”

“Pigs are lying about what took place,” wrote Serrano’s aunt, Michelle Castillo on Facebook. “But there’s plenty of video to show what really went down.”

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

‘Insecure’ Star Kendrick Sampson Shared Emotional Instagram Post About Experiencing Police Brutality in Colombia

Things That Matter

‘Insecure’ Star Kendrick Sampson Shared Emotional Instagram Post About Experiencing Police Brutality in Colombia

Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

Anti-Black police brutality isn’t just a problem in the U.S.–it’s a problem around the world. A recent Instagram post made by “Insecure” actor Kendrick Sampson proved as much.

Sampson–who has been very involved in Black Lives Matter protests this year–shared a post with his 930,000 Instagram followers detailing the police brutality that he faced in Cartagena, Colombia.

The video shows a Cartagena police officer appearing to tug on Sampson’s hands before striking him in the face. The officer then takes out his gun and cocks it in a threatening manner. The entire scene is upsetting, to say the least.

The video was originally posted by Sampson’s friend, Colombian actress Natalia Reyes, who wrote a fiery Instagram caption condemning the Cartagena police:

POLICE BRUTALITY, this is my friend Kendrick Sampson @kendrick38, an actor and dedicated activist of the @blklivesmatter movement in the United States, today this happened to him here in Cartagena and everything hurts, not only because he is a friend but because that is the day to day of many, because we got used to this and that is NOT okay, it’s not normal, the police have the right to ask for your ID but they don’t have the right to punch you, dig in your underwear (as happened before someone started filming) and pull a gun on a person who is not committing any crime or offering any resistance, taking him to a station, not wanting to return his ID and even trying to admonish him? What if this person wasn’t filming? When is this gonna stop? It’s time to rethink the use of force.

@nataliareyesg/Instagram

Sampson reposted the video on his own Instagram account with his own commentary on the discrimination he faced in Cartagena:

Cartagena is AMAZING but this is the 6th time I was stopped in 5 days. It happens to Black Colombians often. I’m told stopping is policy but what is NOT is they reached down my underwear aggressively, slap my arms 5 times hard, punch me in my jaw and pull his gun on me. He then cuffed me and dragged me through the streets. I did not resist any legal procedure. Thank u for posting @nataliareyesg & for helping me through this. And to the person who recorded this.

@kendrick38/Instagram

Some of Sampson’s Latino followers as well as others who have simply visited Colombia chimed in with their thoughts.

One follower said, “I’m so sorry this happened to you here. Cartagena also suffers from racism and such obvious police abuse, I don’t know how long we’re going to have to put up with all this. This is disgraceful.”

Another Colombian said: “Colombian people are pure love bro … sorry for that bad moment. Police in this city think that his uniform it’s power or something like that, many police agents think that are better than you only for wear that uniform and that’s so sick my man…”

This Afro-Latino traveled to Colombia and had a similar experience: “I wasn’t hit this way at all, but when I was visiting Cartagena earlier this year in November, they stopped me and my other black friends and questioned us. No one else in my group (a mix of mestiza, fair-skinned Indigenous, and yt ppl) to ask us why we were standing outside of our hotel.”

Latino celebrities like Rosario Dawson and Lauren Jauregui responded to Sampson’s post offering their sympathy and support.

“I’m so grateful you were able to walk away from this altercation alive and horrified that that’s something to have to be grateful for,” wrote Rosario Dawson. “Police brutality is rampant worldwide and the violence must end. No more impunity.”

Lauren Jauregui simply wrote: “Holy f–k bro. Sending you so much protection!!!”

Colombia has the second largest Black population in South America, right behind Brazil.

Black Colombians make up 10.5% of Colombia’s population. The global swell of activism after the death of George Floyd stretched to Colombia over the summer, with Afro-Colombians taking to the streets to protest anti-Black racism and police brutality.

There’s a longstanding myth that Latinidad is “color blind” because of its shared history of European colonization and the blending of multiple cultures. But cases like Sampson’s prove that is not the case. Police brutality and anti-Blackness is just as real and pervasive in Latin America as it is in the United States.

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com