Bethel’s tribe, ONC, wants people to come forth regarding allegations of city police mistreating Native people. In addition, the Association of Village Council Presidents released a letter that they sent to Bethel Mayor, Joe Klejka about the matter.
In a press release, Gloria Simeon, the President of Orutsararmiut Native Council, Bethel’s tribe, says the council is very disturbed by recent allegations of brutality by a City of Bethel Police Officer towards an inebriated quote “Indian” male. Simeon says the problem, she believes, is instability with the city administration.
“Going on what four, four city mangers, it’s been hard to set up meetings to deal directly with these problems and we’re hoping that by taking this action and making a press release that we cannot tolerate this kind of behavior and this, um, fear within the community of the Bethel Police Department and people that are in law enforcement that this must be addressed,” said Simeon.
Simeon says ONC’s Tribal Council met with the city of Bethel’s Acting City Manager, Greg Moyer and Police Chief Andre Achee during their regular monthly meeting on August 6th. They discussed allegations of police brutality made by
Linda Green through a letter to the editor of the Delta Discovery Newspaper on July 23rd. Simeon says the ONC Tribal Council has concerns about how the police are treating these categories of people:
“The stereotypical Native male who is targeted by authority figures. It seems to be a problem not only here but in other areas. Women alone at night on the streets are also very vulnerable. And of course, people who are inebriated and do not have control of their faculties are certainly the most vulnerable and those are the people that we need to protect,” said Simeon.
Simeon says the ONC Council hopes to work with the Bethel City Council to insure that there are not violations of basic human rights and to improve the relationship of the Bethel Police Department with the community they serve.
“I’m hoping that this, this is not so deeply engrained into the culture of the police department that they can’t rise above it. I’m hoping that we can work together and deal with this issue. It’s all in our best interest to make this community safe for everyone. And we all should be treated with dignity and respect no matter what our circumstances or condition,” said Simeon.
In the release Simeon encouraged anyone, including those from nearby villages, with concerns regarding actions of the Bethel Police Department to call their office and report them. She says the reports will be collected and used to improve the situation for the community.
AVCP President Myron Naneng also released a letter that was sent to Bethel Mayor Joe Klejka on July 25th in which he encouraged the police force to follow the law and regulations. He also asked for assurances of mutual respect and dignity.
Naneng said he’s still waiting for a response from Klejka. City of Bethel officials repeatedly declined to talk with KYUK last week about the allegations and investigation.
Simeon says ONC representatives plan to speak at the beginning of the City Council Meeting Tuesday.