Nick Estes
More than 350 community and family members gathered in front of the Winslow Police Department to demand justice for 27-year-old Navajo mother, Loreal Tsingine, who was brutally shot five times and killed by Winslow police last Easter Sunday.

Police Killing Of Navajo Mother Spurs Winslow Community Calls for Justice

Nick Estes
4/4/16

“No one deserves to be murdered like that,” a tearful Florenda Demsey told a crowd of more than 350 gathered Saturday in front of the police station in Winslow, Arizona for a vigil to remember her niece Loreal Tsingine.

Around 4 p.m. Easter Sunday, an unnamed Winslow police officer fatally shot 27-year-old Tsingine five times.

RELATED: Police Kill Navajo Woman Allegedly Armed With Scissors

According to police, the 100-pound, five-foot tall Navajo mother was uncooperative and brandished a pair of scissors when she was apprehended by two officers who said she  matched the description of an alleged shoplifter at a local Circle-K. One officer felt threatened by Tsingine, shooting her five times and killing her.

Ty Yazzie, a spokesperson for Tsingine’s family, said police left Tsingine’s lifeless body on the street until 6 a.m. the next morning while they cordoned off the scene to conduct the investigation.  Many community members claim police ignored crucial eyewitness accounts of the shooting that put the officer at fault. They said police did not administer any life-saving measures to Tsingine such as CPR and they prevented eyewitnesses at the scene from administering aid. They also said the way Tsingine’s body was treated was disrespectful to Navajo customs.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety is investigating the killing and the officer involved was placed on mandatory paid leave. Neither the city nor the police department has apologized or offered any support to Tsingine’s family.

“Don’t be afraid anymore,” Demsey told the crowd. “We have to stand up and let [the Winslow Police Department] know enough is enough.”

“She was executed in broad daylight,” Melanie Yazzie said. Yazzie is an organizer with The Red Nation, a group that helped organize Saturday’s vigil with Tsingine’s family. “This officer did this because he knew he could do it with impunity,” she said, touching on what many described as a pervasive climate of fear and intimidation by border-town law enforcement, especially toward Native women.

“We have to stand up and let them [the Winslow Police Department] know enough is enough.” (Nick Estes)

Several signs read, “Not another sister #MMIW” in reference to the thousands of murdered and missing Indigenous women in North America.

“We want the police department to leave!” Kee Begaye, a relative of Tsingine, said. “It’s not just here, it’s Flagstaff, Gallup and Farmington,” he said.

According to the Guardian’s database The Counted, Arizona law enforcement killed 44 people last year and has already killed nine people this year. Across the nation, in 2015 police killed 1,145 people and 269 people so far in 2016. African Americans, Hispanics and Natives, according to the database, experience the highest rates of death at the hands of police.

“We have to stand in solidarity with Black and brown people,” Wahleah Johns, a member of the Black Mesa Water Coalition and an organizer of Saturday’s vigil, said. Several placards read “We stand with Black Lives Matter.” Black Lives Matter is an international anti-police brutality movement. People affiliated with Black Lives Matter-Phoenix showed up to the vigil to offer support for Tsingine’s family.

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye also attended, offering condolences to the family and the community. “Every Navajo life is precious,” he said. Angry at the lack of response by the city of Winslow, Begaye warned city leadership, “We will sue you if you don’t rectify this.”

Many demanded the Navajo Nation lead an independent investigation into the circumstances of Tsingine’s killing and rampant police violence and discrimination against Natives in border towns. President Begaye pledged the Navajo Nation’s support for the family.

“We as a nation demand justice,” he said.

“Every Navajo life is precious.” (Nick Estes)

You need to be logged in in order to post comments
Please use the log in option at the bottom of this page

POST A COMMENT

Comments

DennisIyankapiMatho's picture
DennisIyankapiMatho
Submitted by DennisIyankapiMatho on
Even with just the few words of the first part of this un-necessary killing of this Navajo Mother! In the 1st.part stated that she was carrying a pair of scissors, and the officer felt his life was endangered and then shot her 5-X's which just little over kill! Then being Navajo women and the rights of this person should have taken care of the body and collected evidence and got witnesses statements! Totally inappropriate manner!

DennisIyankapiMatho's picture
DennisIyankapiMatho
Submitted by DennisIyankapiMatho on
Even with just the few words of the first part of this un-necessary killing of this Navajo Mother! In the 1st.part stated that she was carrying a pair of scissors, and the officer felt his life was endangered and then shot her 5-X's which just little over kill! Then being Navajo women and the rights of this person should have taken care of the body and collected evidence and got witnesses statements! Totally inappropriate manner!

WinterWindTeacher's picture
WinterWindTeacher
Submitted by WinterWindTeacher on
I agree with Kee Begaye, the police should go. The entire act was a bloodthirsty killing. Shoplifting is a minor offense and a pair of scissors are an innocuous instrument compared with the training and tools and officer is supposedly laden down with; for example pepper spray, forgot to bring it with him today, the officer could have kicked the scissors out of her hands. A lazier way of handling it - the officer could have shot the person in the foot, or shot the hand with the scissors. I am sure there are many creative ways the woman could have been persuaded to put the scissors down. There is no excuse for the cold blooded killing of this Navajo woman by the police officer. It is further insulting that district attorneys with the grand jury hearings can not seem to indict any of these predominantly racially biased and impoverished community members homicides committed by police. Charges can be brought against a system that is casual and callous and that systematically violates Civil and Constitutional law as well as International Human Rights law through these secret tribunals in which a persons life is determined to be of no value so the individual is murdered by the state's security apparatus as a mater of fact or necessity. It is immoral, repugnant and all vestiges of it should be removed so that life truly is respected and valued. If there were a way to reach that place domestically, intellectually, and soul to soul - then there would be hope Internationally to stop inflicting that same brutality on the brother's and sister's in the world, they are no less devastated by each and every act of violence against their families, communities and nations. There is a stunning vacuum of silence and inaction politically to this matter of senselessly cutting down family, friends, neighbors, members of the community, poor people and ethnic minorities or a push to incarcerate them into merciless, inhumane conditions for minor infractions, and all too often as a scapegoat. There is something radically wrong in the government; prosperity flows up, defying gravity - and tyranny flows down, their natural tendency, and bullshit is electable. I am willing to accept that nothing happens without the consent of the people. I truly feel if the people did not want this system of brutality, lies and violence, wealth for the elite and prisons and tyranny for the poor, if the people withdrew their consent than something very different would take its place. A leaderless movement, so there is no one at the top to assassinate, but a collective each one teach one, than a new day comes where shoplifting is no longer a necessity and shot in cold blooded murder is not an excuse for anything. My condolences for the family of this young Navajo woman, it is a tragic senseless destruction of life. This has become a sorrowful common story shared throughout the nation whose roots in racism, impoverishment, marginalization, militarism, classicism, homophobia, violence against women, child abuse, environmental destruction, separatism, inequality and injustice needs to be uprooted where ever it grows. Those who sew it's seeds need to be charged as traitors who actively undermine a true society of valuing and honoring life in all its diversity.
3