Utes Boycott Town to Protest Racial Profiling, Harassment by Cops
The Ute Indian Tribe’s (Northern Utes) economic boycott in an adjoining town continues in an effort to halt civil rights offenses the tribe says have occurred over decades despite requests to “treat tribal members with dignity and respect reservation boundaries.”
The tribe, located in northeastern Utah, announced a tribal boycott of non-Ute businesses in Roosevelt, a community of about 4,000 Indian and non-Indian residents some 8 miles from tribal headquarters at Fort Duchesne. The boycott alleges racial profiling by local law enforcement.
But the boycott announced August 30 was not the first, according to a tribal press release, and the ban held in 1977 – 1998 prompted the then-mayor to say of the current boycott, “It saddened me to see that in 15 years we haven’t made any progress.”
The Northern Utes said the Roosevelt police chief told ABC News he was not aware of any recent racial profiling, but that every officer has biases somewhere. Roosevelt city officials said in a press statement they were surprised by the tribe’s boycott, which seems “disingenuous in light of the [earlier] boycott of the city,” the tribe responded.
Northern Utes “continue to be subject to ongoing unlawful stops and arrests in large numbers” outside local law enforcement’s jurisdiction, the tribal statement says, and although the tribe’s governing Business Committee will not file a specific complaint out of fear of retaliation toward its members, “make no mistake, the tribe will address these issues very soon in a time and [unspecified] manner of its choosing.”
“Tribal membership spends hundreds of thousands of dollars at local businesses in Roosevelt only to be treated as second-class citizens in a city in which they do their shopping,” the tribal press release states. “Shame on Roosevelt.”
The Northern Utes encouraged merchants affected by the boycott to contact city officials and the tribe to press for an open meeting with the Business Committee to address joint concerns.