CHEROKEE, N.C. — At 64 years-old, Matilda Black Bear, better known as Tillie, refers to herself as a “classic case” in regards to her story of domestic violence. She was 26 years old when she entered into a relationship that turned violent. She knew after the first week that she had to get out, but it took her three years to leave.
“In the ’70s there were no services for victims, let alone any laws to hold perpetrators accountable,” recalls Tillie. “I went to the police and to the judges and they didn’t know what to do with me.”
According to U.S. Department of Justice Statistics, not much has changed in nearly 40 years. Tillie’s story is shared by thousands of Native women in the United States. One out of three Native women will be raped in her lifetime, and three out of four will be physically assaulted.
These staggering statistics were presented, along with a plea for help, to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, Ms. Rashida Manjoo. Manjoo visited the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in Cherokee, North Carolina on Jan. 28-29, 2011. Continue reading →
Cebull agreed that the Coles and Springfield lacked standing to assert rights as individuals because they did not allege they had been the subject of discriminatory law enforcement. The link between injuries alleged by the plaintiffs and the alleged misconduct of the government employees was too weak to meet requirements for bringing a case, he said.
The court, however, held that the plaintiffs had standing to assert an equal-protection claim against Oravec and did not dismiss that claim.
Cebull agreed with Ostby that factual allegations “create an inference’’ that Oravec was “motivated by racial animus when conducting his investigation into the deaths of Steven Bearcrane and Robert Springfield.”
The plaintiffs alleged that Oravec had been heard to say that female American Indian victims of sexual assault “were asking for assault or words to that effect.” And, they claimed, Oravec tried to hinder crime investigations and that when the Coles visited the FBI offices to ask about the investigation into their son’s death, he attempted to intimidate Cletus Cole by taking him out of camera range and showing him his gun.