As statues of oppressors toppled around L.A., Meztli Projects emerged to uplift Indigenous artists living in exile. As a community, we are grateful for their contributions. We are, however, deeply saddened by his killing.
He was killed in front of his home, where in 2016 he had lived since his release from prison on a $1 million bail. He was also not a convicted felon and had never been charged with a crime. Yet he was assassinated because he had dared to speak out in defense of Indigenous voices living in exile. He was gunned down because he was a person of color.
This tragedy is deeply personal.
I can’t talk about my father here, not because he is not a person anyone owes an apology to. My father was a person I loved dearly. He was a poet, an advocate for Indigenous rights, and a man who was very passionate about justice.
My father was killed by a police officer during a demonstration, where thousands of Indigenous people were demonstrating against police oppression. They were angry that my father’s body wasn’t returned to Indigenous communities, but instead had been shipped to jail in a coffin.
My father’s death was not unexpected. From the moment he was placed on death row, he faced a series of human rights violations. He was first held at the US Men’s Jail until federal authorities removed him in 2000. He was then moved to a private prison and held there until 2006, when he was transferred, against his will, to the ADX Florence Correctional Complex.
It is not surprising, then, that my father, a deeply spiritual man, would be seeking a life of spirituality. The day after his death he was reported to have said: “I’m going to be a missionary or a monk, I don’t know yet.”
From the moment his death was announced I wrote about it. My writing was not limited to just a personal space and I wrote about my father’s death on the world’s newspaper websites, calling for justice, and, in so doing, I drew attention to my father’s continued detention.
He was in the news