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 Fight For Justice

On the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Reservation


January 1997

Read from the bottom up


20 January 1997

BY VANESSA DIETZ

From the Daily Minning Gazette

MARQUETTE - It is a letter that concludes with a plea for a peaceful end to Keweenaw Bay Indian Community's political division.

But Father John Hascall's attorney, Steve Pence of Marquette, also asks many questions - and supplies answers from his perspective - in response to an arraignment invitation to all Fight For Justice members for whom KBIC Tribal Police have outstanding warrants.

Pence's Jan. 17 letter to KBIC Tribal Prosecutor Gregor MacGregor was spurred by an offer of personal recognizance bonds. KBIC Tribal Judge Douglas Gurski made the offer to FFJ members with outstanding arrest warrants, if they agree to be arraigned Thursday.

The judge's offer, as described in a letter from MacGregor, is contingent on bond conditions which include not entering the tribal center and not interfering with the tribal government's access to the old tribal center building. The compound has been held by protestors for more than a year.

MacGregor, a partner of Kendricks Bordeau of Marquette, was unavailable for comment today, his secretary told The Gazette.

Pence sent copies of the letter to Hascall, former KBIC tribal prosecutor and current tribal attorney Joseph O'Leary, KBIC member Timothy Shanahan and KBIC media spokesman Rich Rossway, alleging libelous statements by Shanahan and Rossway were made to the press about Hascall and asking that the statements be retracted.

MacGregor sent Pence the letter, addressed to "Mr. John Hascall," which led Pence to remind MacGregor his "client's name is FATHER John Hascall."

In response to MacGregor's letter, Pence wrote to the acting KBIC prosecuting attorney. "Father Hascall does not recognize the current government of the KBIC and Judge Gurski as having legitimate authority."

As Father Hascall recently wrote:
"KBIC 'does not respect the voice of the people on which democracy is based' since, in the 1994 election, 'the same electorate voted that had voted for 40 years, done so by custom and the will of the people,' yet the KBIC governemnt nullified the election.

"Individuals who exercise independence from the illegally constituted government of the KBIC are summarily dismissed from their duties," Pence wrote to MacGregor.

Pence told The Gazette this morning the above quote refers to visiting Judge William Thorne's dismissal more than a year ago, the firing of tribal officers and others who claim they are no longer able to work for KBIC because of their political opinions. The tribal government disputes such claims.

Hascall, the Catholic priest of Most Holy Name of Jesus Church in Assinins, does not intend to comply with KBIC Tribal Court's bond terms, Pence said in the letter. He told MacGregor that Hascall is not a KBIC member, making the charges invalid. Hascall is from the Sault Ste. Marie Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

Pence requested a copy of the complaint and search warrant said to have resulted in the December 17, 1996 raid of the former tribal center grounds. At that time, KBIC Tribal Police reportedly forcibly entered Most Holy Name of Jesus rectory and Fr. Hascall's bedroom. Without a warrant, this type of activity would not be considered legal.

Pence also questioned why police did not arrest Hascall at that time, if they had a warrant for him. He said, the priest now "plans on going about his business as he has in the past. He cannot and will not restrict his activities out of fear of an illegal arrest. Should the KBIC illegally arrest him, we will immediately file an action in federal court seeking a writ of habeas corpus. We will also hold accountable those who have any role in illegally arresting or incarcerating Father Hascall.

"Father Hascall will not post a bond and will not accept the conditions that you offer as to a personal-recognizance bond. Father Hascall is on several medications, and should he be arrested and lodged in jail, he will do what other prisoners of conscience have done: he will refuse food and medicine," Pence wrote.

"The reasons that Father Hascall has risked so much and is willing to risk even more are best summed up in his own words: 'The basic rights of a people have been denied: Their right to belong to a people, to make a choice as to their leadrers, the right to religious freedom, the right to be free from unjust arrest, the right to protection from the elements, the freedom to travel from place to place, and the right to have food, medicine and security from that which would harm them.'

"Father Hascall has also stated that the KBI is 'a sick form of government, if a government at all.'...Father Hascall notes that, in the past: 'The sacred was always respected by the people. This sacred area where the church and the rectory lie was set aside for the spiritual needs of the people. Throughout the 29 years that I have been here, I have lived my traditional Christian way of life and the people have grown throughout the years. The church stands for justice and peace and the rights of individuals and societies to exist. What the people want, and what I want, is for this situation to be healed in justice and peace, for the good of the people, for the good of the children,'" Pence wrote in the letter.


In a letter written January 17, 1997 From Attorney S. Pence to Gregor MacGregor, KBIC Tribal Prosecutor

Dear Mr. MacGregor:
I am in receipt of your letter to "Mr. John Hascall". It would appear as if nothing positive was intended by this letter since you know full well that my client's name is 'Father' John Hascall. I also find it distressing that you and the Judge have discussed, ex parte, the question of bond.

As to the substance of your request, it cannot and will not be complied with by Father Hascall. Father Hascall does not recognize the current government of the KBIC and Judge Gurski as having legitimate authority. As Father Hascall recently wrote:

KBIC "does not respect the voice of the people on which democracy is based" since, in the 1994 election, "the same electorate voted that had for forty years, done so by custom and the will of the people", yet, the KBIC government nullified the election.

Individuals who exercise independence from the illegally constituted government of the KBIC are summarily dismissed from their duties. Since you filed your Motion to Disqualify Judge Gurski, after he initially agreed with FFJ attorneys on key issues, he has denied FFJ members evidentiary hearings and has ruled against FFJ in all procedural and substantive motions. He has, in short, been duly intimidated.

The KBIC Constitution does not grant you authority over a nonmember for alleged crimes committed on KBIC property. That was the chief defense to the case of KBIC v Colin Van. You dismissed charges in that case when a motion was brought on behalf of Mr. Van alleging that although he was an Indian, he was not a member of the KBIC tribe, and thus, the tribe had no authority over him. For the same reason, the charges that you have brought against Father Hascall are invalid.

I am repeating my request for a copy of the complaint and a copy of the search warrant which you authorized for Father Hascall's home, which involved another illegal act, since the rectory is not KBIC property. You were ordered to provide a copy of the search warrant in the Halverson case, but did not do so.

If the KBIC was serious about prosecuting Father Hascall, they would have arrested him while they were illegally in his bedroom. Since that did not happen, Father Hascall plans on going about his business as he has in the past. He cannot and will not restrict his activities out of fear of an illegal arrest. Should the KBIC illegally arrest him, we will immediately file an action in Federal court seeking a writ of habeas corpus. We will also hold accountable those who have any role in illegally arresting or incarcerating Father Hascall.

Father Hascall will not post a bond and will not accept the conditions that you offer as to a personal recognizance bond. Father Hascall is on several medications, and should he be arrested and lodged in jail, he will do what other prisoners of conscience have done: he will refuse food and medicine.

The reasons that Father Hascall has risked so much and is willing to risk even more are best summed up in his own words:

"The basic rights of a people have been denied: their right to belong to a people, to make a choice as to their leaders, the right to religious freedom, the right to be free from unjust arrest, the right to protection from the elements, the freedom to travel from place to place, and the right to have food, medicine and security from that which would harm them".

Father Hascall has also stated that the KBIC is "a sick form of government, if a government at all". The activities of the KBIC government reached a new low when intrusion was made upon Church property. Father Hascall notes that, in the past,

"The sacred was always respected by the people. This sacred area where the Church and rectory lie was set aside for the spiritual needs of the people. Throughout the 29 years that I have been here, I have lived my traditional Christian way of life and the people have grown throughout the years. The Church stands for justice and peace and rights of individuals and societies to exist. What the people want, and what I want, is for this situation to be healed in justice and peace, for the good of the people, for the good of the children."

Rather than continuing to exchange letters with you, I call upon you to urge the KBIC to begin negotiations with Fight for Justice and to seek a peaceful means of resolving this matter.1

Very truly yours, Steven L. Pence

I am sending a copy of this letter to Joseph O'Leary, as tribal general counsel, since we will bring suit against him and/or you if Father Hascall is arrested. I am demanding a retraction by tribal officials of their numerous libelous comments against Father Hascall. Who is Timothy Shanahan, such that he can determine that Father Hascall no longer deserves to be called "Father"? (Mining Journal, 12/18/96) Who is Rich Rossway (who claims that he spoke to you and the tribal judge about the warrant) to conclude that Father Hascall, "had full knowledge and orchestrated (the take over) of August 227" (Gazette, 8/16/96). Mr. Rossway has a particular knack for the disingenuous since, in the same article, he concluded that "we don't want this (case against Father Hascall) tried in public" (I assume he means the paper, but along with the duplicity, I suspect a Freudian slip. A public trail in the last thing KBIC desires). Finally, in a similar vein, Mr. Rossway told the UP Catholic (1/3/97) that during the illegal raid of Church property, KBIC police assuredly would have arrested dissidents whom they found on the site ("you better believe tribal police are going to enforce the law ... ")I Mr. Rossway, of course, had no explanation for the failure to arrest Father Hascall even though KBIC officers entered his bedroom while he was sleeping.

You, of course, began these public pronouncements of Father Hascall's quilt shortly after you issued the warrant against him, almost a year after the alleged offenses. I also request a retraction of your public comments.

To read a brief summary of FFJ and it's begining read Tina Lam's Detorit Free Press article

Copyright 2001 by Rose Edwards. All Rights Reserved.