Round Valley Indian Reservation
For Immediate Release
April 20, 1995
Contact: Leona Luna
Covelo, California 95428
Round Valley Indian Reservation residents have been living in a state of terror given the severe and illegal harassment suffered at the hands of the Mendocino County police investigating the shooting deaths of three people on the reservation earlier this week. Many households have felt it necessary to evacuate their children from the valley for fear of their safety and families are evacuating their homes in remote areas. Various Round Valley Indian families will be meeting with the American Civil Liberties Union later this week to determine what action to take given the unjust treatment they have suffered at the hands of the police.
INCIDENTS OF POLICE MISCONDUCT INCLUDE:
#1 The family of the purported assailant were pulled from a pickup truck and guns placed at their heads including a five year old child, a three year old, and two infants. The five year old child asked the policeman if he was going to shoot her.
#2 A 65 year old crippled mother of the purported assailant was thrown to the ground and verbally and physically abused, she was left severely bruised. This family was trying to leave the area because of the gunfire they heard that night of the incident.
#3 The grandmother to these children stated to the police as she was trying to obey the police that she was crippled and could not walk fast. The police officer stated "didn't fucking care" and pushed her to the ground. The police knocked out windows of her home and discharged firearms in the home hitting the cradleboard of one of the infants.
#4 Police have entered many Indian homes without warrants with guns cocked, searching each room.
#5 A 99 year old elder had a machine gun pointed at her as the police searched her house. The young children present were terrified.
#6 The police pulled a 95 year old man out of his truck at gun point and "roughed him up" for no reason.
#7 At least fifty homes have been searched without warrants and with guns drawn and cocked. This does not include counting the countless vehicles that have been stopped at gun point.
#8 Police have gained entry to homes without warrants, stating to the occupant that if they gave them permission to enter they wouldn't have to get a warrant, which if they obtain, and then found something, would prohibit the residents from returning to their homes. Many people did not consent to these searches, but police searched anyway.
#9 While parents were away at a press conference the police interrogated minors in their homes and entered and searched the home and had guns pointed at the children the whole time. This home was previously searched the day before.
#10 A minor was taken into custody without the parents knowledge.
#11 A mentally disabled man was harassed by the police and thrown to the ground.
#12 The people of the Round Valley Indian Reservation live in constant fear of the law officers that have pledged to serve and protect all residents of Mendocino County. The reservation residents are treated as criminals.
#13 Leonard Peters, the man shot and killed by the police had nothing to do with the earlier shooting of Gene Britton which drew the police to the reservation, police were looking for Arylis Peters, who fled the scene of the killing of Gene Britton. Two of the assailants in Britton's murder were apprehended immediately and Arylis Peters turned himself in the next day. Leonard Peters, the brother of Arylis Peters was therefore unjustifiably murdered by the police and the man they are now searching for may be the only witness to his murder.
#14 An eyewitness to the body of Leonard Peters, the crippled grandmother pushed to the ground by the police, stated that "from the waist on up he was completely blown away." She was asked at this time by the police if the body was Arylis Peters.
The police didn't even know who they were killing and they thought they had killed Arylis Peters. An Indian man is now being hunted through the mountains of Mendocino County for whom the order has been given to "shoot to kill." This directive was heard on various scanners of individuals in the valley. This man also happens to be the only witness to the killing of Leonard Peters at the hands of the police. The identity of this man was not known to the police until several days subsequent to the shooting of Leonard Peters, which indicates that he was never seen by the police at the time of this incident. The police were stopping individuals and accusing them of being the suspect even though there was no similarities of appearance.
Example: A tribal employee was on his way to the store while on the job and was stopped by the police. There were several police around him and they had machine guns pointed at him. His physical appearance was not similar to the suspects except for that fact they were both Native American Indians.
The family of Leonard Peters has not been allowed to see the body of Leonard Peters to this date, 6 days later, nor have they been told when the body will be released to them. The family of Leonard Peters is asking for contributions for an investigation and that a letter writing campaign be undertaken to the proper congressional authorities for the purpose of an investigation of the murder of Leonard Peters, the protection for the Round Valley Reservation residents from further police harassment and for the prevention of the murder of yet another Indian man who must be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to the laws of our country.
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