Medical distress in custody: always make the call

The world looks like its going a little crazy. We must constantly re-assess whats going on in the most populated indigenous territory in the land. There is a lot of racial profiling and violence. Racial violence equals hate.

I always pondered the question and recently one of my Onkwehonwe Mohawk speaking brothers recently asked it too. Can Indian Police be racist? My answer was yes.

If we go back to the Mush Hole residential school – white church leaders chastised and humiliated little native kids for having any characteristics of their true identity. Long hair, indian names, speaking your language or even an accent from the rez meant open season for humiliating those children.

As a result of impounded shame we were taught self-hatred. And sadly, it is alive and well. It’s a cancer to our great tree of peace.

My friends name is Tewahnakwa he is an Onondaga Beaver but has been immersed in the Kaniakehaka language since he was young and is the kind of man we need teaching. He grew up on the Six Nations territory and like a good majority of the people has problems that incidentally got him arrested in March.

He was very distraught telling me he got dragged out of bed by his ankle and arrested. He had been drinking. He was taken to the station and charged. He is a diabetic and hadn’t had anything in his system for a couple hours because he was sleeping. He asked for medical attention which is a question the police usually ask you. He was out right refused by the officer on duty when he requested an ambulance be called. He asked repeatedly for help but was not heard.

Consequently when he was taken to Brantford courthouse after a day and a half the bailiffs called the ambulance because of his deteriorating condition which resulted in him being hospitalized for close to a week while in custody to get his insulin levels back up to a ideal level. He was diagnosed with pancreatitis, given medications and released to the Brantford Jail.

There was recently a young Haudenosuannee man who died while in custody at the Brantford jail. It don’t matter if it’s at the station or at the holding facility; custody is custody. The officers are responsible for your safety.

Police custody deaths are currently at the forefront of a massive firestorm of controversy. In Baltimore Maryland, a young man mysteriously severed his own spine while in police custody. Eventually that resulted in homicide charges against the police and massive riots in the streets of Baltimore.

This is a very serious matter and whether it be on Six Nations or in the urban centres of America we’re all human beings that deserve respect. If police keep playing dangerous games like the incident with Tewanakwa there will be preventable deaths on our own territory.

This is a shout out to any official that thinks medical distress is to be taken lightly. When someone in custody requests paramedics make the call. Tewanakwa is a good man that is struggling through just like a lot of our youth. He’s too young to die. But he just about became another picture on the wall or statistic because someone in a position of power decided his life wasn’t worth the phone call.

I know policing is a stressful job, especially on a big territory that has such a big population as Six Nations. Some people can be testy and downright obnoxious and I understand that you have a job to do. But remember that there are two opposing dynamics of law which makes our situation very unique. A history of colonial divide and conquer vs. the common tie that binds us through our blood lineage. Whether we Haudenosaunee be from the longhouse, the church, up or down – we are all related. Our blood is all the same. And enough has been shed already. Wakiro!

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