AIM members on courthouse steps to give support of family of Amanda Webster (Diné), who was murdered last year.
Published February 9, 2019
BURLINGTON, Ky. — On February 6, 2019 members of two American Indian Movement chapters, allies, and human rights observers sat in the Boone County District Court to bear witness for the life and family of Amanda Dakota Webster.
Amanda Webster (Diné) moved to Florence, Kentucky to work as an independent contractor in order to take care of her three children. In the days after her murder became known Navajo welders and families came together to raise over $10,000 for her body to be returned home.
“As a Navajo woman and an independent contractor, it is my responsibility to be here for my sister,” stated Dana Aiyanna. Dana Aiyanna lives in Louisville, Kentucky and is from Window Rock, Navajo Nation.
In December 2018 Amanda Webster from Cameron Chapter of the Navajo Nation, was found stabbed-to-death in the hotel room of Jesse James, who admitted to killing Webster while under police questioning for “acting strange” in a movie theater.
It was reported Mr. James remarked to having killed Amanda Webster without remorse.
Mr. James appeared in the rural Kentucky courtroom to give a plea of not-guilty to all charges, including the murder of Amanda Webster. His lawyer, proceeded to ask for more time in the discovery phase to review the state mandatory psychiatric evaluation, which has not been delivered to the defense. The prosecution said they have all the evidence they need but agreed to continuance. The judge granted a continuance of discovery until preliminary hearing on March 6, 2018 at 9:00 am.
American Indian Movement of Indiana and Kentucky and AIM of Ohio are pushing the prosecution to pursue this case as a hate crime due to its’ connection to widespread murder of Indigenous women and girls throughout the continent.
“We stand by the family of Amanda Webster because we as Indian people know this to be a continent wide epidemic and we are going to ensure that justice for Amanda remains a priority,” stated by AIM of Indian Kentucky member Melinda Pennell.
Data drafted by the Urban Indian Health Institute: “According to National Crime Information Center reports, that in 2016 there were 5,712 reports of missing American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls, though U.S. Department of Justice’s federal missing persons database, only logged 116 cases.” Corine Fairbanks, AIM of Ohio challenges this report, “We live along Interstate 75 corridor where human and sex trafficking is known to be rampant yet indigenous people are misidentified and misrepresented in the police reports.” She says “we continue to have not voice, because the turn the mike off when we state our case”
This clearly shows the vast majority of MMIWG cases go unreported by state and city police departments. Even less cases are the perpetrators convicted, especially if they are police officers, as in the case of Loreal Tsingine, (Diné) who was gunned down by Winslow police officers in 2017. Almost none of these cases are considered hate crimes.
AIM members of Indiana, Kentucky chapter and AIM Ohio chapter are dedicated to holding the prosecution to accountability. They wish to extend the invitation to those who wish to join their efforts to see justice for Amanda Webster and all MMIWG.
In the same courtroom, moments after Mr. James stepped down, Covington Catholic High School graduate, Jacob Walter charged with rape and sodomy appeared before the same judge. A few weeks ago, one may recall, students from Covington Catholic High School mocked and disrespectfully blocked Omaha Nation elder, Nathan Phillips in Washington D.C. Mr. Phillips was a participant in the Indigenous Peoples March, in which Missing Murdered Indigenous Women was at the forefront.
The case of Jacob Walter not only shows the rape culture that resides within halls of Covington Catholic but also shares in the racist mentality shown by the students on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.