Saturday, March 06, 2010

NAT: Photo stolen for hatred

Longhouse Media condemns illegal use of "March Point" photo in hate crime
Native leaders in U.S and Canada demand protections for Native youth

SEATTLE -- Longhouse Media Executive Director Tracy Rector today condemned the illegal use of a copyrighted photo of three teenagers from the Swinomish, Grand Ronde, and Lummi Tribes in Washington that was used in a hate crime against First Nations and Native American youth.

"We are appalled by the use of our image for such hateful and demeaning purposes," said Rector, responding to an advertisement that appeared on a Canadian online news site. "The photo of the three adolescent boys was taken from promotional material for our film March Point, an award-winning documentary," said Rector. "The film was made with three young filmmakers and tells the story of their coming of age struggles in a Native American community in the U.S. That this image would be used for such deviant ends is deeply hurtful to these young men and their families, and to the Native community as a whole."

The advertisement headlined "Free Native Extraction Service" was placed on the UsedWinnipeg.com website. The website is managed by Victoria-based company called Black Press. They operate a network of websites (47 in total) under the UsedEverywhere.com brand.

Referring to Native youth, it began: "Have you ever had the experience of getting home to find those pesky little buggers hanging outside your home, in the back alley or on the corner???" It goes on to offer "free extraction services to relocate them to their habitat," and continues with other offensive remarks.

"We condemn this as a hate crime, and will join with others to see the perpetrators are brought to justice," said Rector. "This ad could intimidate and incite violence against indigenous youth in North America, and we are joining with Manitoba Chiefs to call for an end to hate crimes such as these. We must all stand together to protect our youth."

Chairman Brian Cladoosby of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community said, "We are saddened by the fact that some people still harbor extreme hatred toward Native people as this advertisement demonstrates. But we are also encouraged that many more people recognize this as a racist attack on a generation of Native American youth who for the most part are law-abiding citizens striving to overcome generations of poverty and oppression, and live productive lives. We hope that calmer heads prevail and that the individuals responsible for posting this ad are prosecuted to the full extent of the law."

While not an act of physical violence, it is one of intimidation and threat. According to the Criminal Code of Canada, "a hate crime is committed to intimidate, harm or terrify not only a person, but an entire group of people to which the victim belongs. The victims are targeted for who they are, not because of anything they have done. Hate crimes involve intimidation, harassment, physical force or threat of physical force against a person, a family or a property." Section 319(1): Public Incitement of Hatred, Criminal Code of Canada

Author and poet Sherman Alexie, a founding board member of Longhouse Media from the Spokane and Coeur d'Alene Tribes also spoke out, saying, "As much as the world has changed for indigenous people in good ways, there are still many violent and hateful folks out there who seek to harm us, and we must condemn them in print and in action, and we must do this together."


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