Trial of John Graham Native Land Defender Begins
Reports from Rapid, RAPID CITY, SD (Nov. 29)
Trial of John Graham, Native Land Defender Begins: Reports from
Rapid City (scroll for update)
As many who have been following this case know, John Graham has been charged with the 1970’s murder of his friend and comrade in the American Indian Movement (AIM), Anna Mae Aquash. Throughout the trial we will bring you the latest from court and the situation.
We understand the real intentions of this so called “investigation” to be two-fold. The first is an attempt by the State to rewrite history in order to cover up the brutal acts of repression they themselves committed. The second intent is to neutralize Native American struggle for survival in the face of colonial and economic domination.
No news is objective and we are not here to pretend.
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UPDATE: RAPID CITY, SD, November 29th, 2010
Today, jury selection began in the trial of Tuchone native John Graham. So far only four jury members have been selected. The process is expected to take at least until Wednesday.
Attorney for the defense, John Murphy made a thorough examination of the prospective jurors. Responding to questioning, a number of jurors admitted to being familiar with AIM activities in the 1970’s. Those familiar with AIM, also shared that they had negative feelings towards AIM at that time, spurred by the media and effects AIM activity had on certain businesses. All said that this was in the past and would not impact their impartiality now as jurors.
As you may know, federal charges against Graham were repeatedly dismissed because prosecutors couldn’t prove they had the authority to charge him, as Graham and Aquash are both from “Canadian tribes”. The case is now being tried in state court.
Former federal prosecuting attorney in the Aquash case, Marty Jackley, was recently elected State Attorney General of South Dakota and, so, continues on as chief prosecutor of the Aquash case. Alongside him sits Robert Mandel, prosecuting attorney in the the 2004, 4-day railroad trial of Arlo Looking Cloud, found guilty of aiding and abetting in the murder.
The day before trial began the Rapid City Journal (main local newspaper) ran an a three page spread entitled “Search for the Truth.” This well timed piece of propaganda was published just before the future jury was directed to refrain from all media. The article, by Heidi Bell Gease, quotes Paul Demain, stating “There is a whole generation of people who love hating the FBI.” Gease takes this further, “That us against them mentality doesn’t have much to do with finding justice for a murdered woman, he said. but for many people the Aquash case is bigger than that.” “Us against them” existed for Anna Mae Aquash and others when they were being fired upon by hundreds of law-enforcement agents at Wounded Knee, 1973. It also existed when she was being threatened by the FBI. Native people fighting for survival in opposition to the entire state/economic apparatus are up against a very dangerous and well-armed force. “Us against them” is not just a mentality, it is a reality and this is why neither truth nor justice can not be sought in their courts.
Jury selection resumes at 8:30am.