Fight Back! News

News and Views from the People's Struggle

Deadly November: Cops kill 3 Native American men in MN

By linden

Kelly Suzick, sister of J Widmark, who was murdered by police, speaks

Minneapolis, MN – In the month of November, Minnesota police officers killed three Native American men. Natives Lives Matter called for a candlelight vigil to honor their memories and demand justice here, December 3. Over three dozen people gathered in front of the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa Urban office on Franklin Avenue, in the historical hub of the Minneapolis Native community.

Despite the darkness, cars and buses honked constantly after seeing the participants’ signs that denounced police violence and calling for justice for the three men killed by law enforcement officers.

Travis Jordan, age 36 of the Hawaiian nation, was killed in North Minneapolis on November 9, while suffering a mental health crisis. Then on the night of November 27, 41-year-old J Scott Alan Widmark, a member of the Bois Forte Band of the Chippewa Nation, who was also suffering a crisis, was killed in the town of Virginia, Minnesota. Finally, on November 28, Vernon May, age 34, of the Red Lake Nation was killed in the town of Bemidji during a routine traffic stop.

Organizers called out the names of the cops who murdered the three: Ryan Keyes and Neal Walsh of the Minneapolis Police Department; Officer Nick Grivna in Virginia; and Bemidji Officer Bidal Druan and Beltrami County Deputy Brandon Newhouse. They also pointed out that Vernon May was “a family member to Tony May Jr., who died in police custody August 11, 2016” at the Beltrami County Jail.

Family members of the men recently killed spoke. Kelly Suzick, the sister of J Allen Widmark, told the crowd that the medical examiner has not yet released her brother’s body to the family and talked of J’s talents as an artist and musician. Travis Jordan’s girlfriend gave a wrenching account of the events that transpired on the night he was murdered.

Organizer and emcee Gabriel Eaglefeather of Native Lives matter introduced more family members who have endured their loved ones being killed by police in the past few years, including the relatives of Thurman Blevins, Marcus Golden and Phil Quinn.

Eaglefeather spoke of his own murdered brother and read a very long list of names of the Native Americans who have been murdered by law enforcement in the United States. He also pointed out that besides Jordan, Widmark and May, Minnesota cops killed two more in November, to bring the total to five.

Other organizations sent members and speakers to the vigil, including Black Lives Matter Twin Cities, Communities United Against Police Brutality, the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar Clark.

#MinneapolisMN #PeoplesStruggles #PoliceBrutality #NativeLivesMatter