Bay Area Community Native Activist Victim of Excessive Police Force: Badly Beaten

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Luta Candelaria

Luta Candelaria

Bay Area American Indian Community Outraged over Latest Case of Police Brutality

Excessive Police Force

SAN LEANDRO, CALIFORNIA — Incidents of racial profiling and police brutality against American Indian men and women are on the rise in California. Early Saturday morning, June 21, at approximately 1:30 am, Wicahpiluta “Luta” Candelaria, a Rumsen Ohlone warrior, singer, dancer, cultural presenter, father, son and brother to many in the San Francisco and East Bay Area American Indian community was brutally beaten by seven police officers from the Alameda Sheriff’s department.

At least two dozen friends and supporters packed the Hayward Courthouse for his arraignment yesterday, Monday, June 23.

Candelaria was simply walking home after taking the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) train home from a performance in Oakland earlier in the evening. After walking several minutes, he noticed a group of seven Sheriff’s deputies in a group in front of the Bayfair Shopping Mall.

He crossed the street in order to avoid them. The police officers then followed him across the street as he walked. The deputy in charge, Officer Holmes shouted out to him: “Where are you going?”

“I’m going home,” Candelaria answered.

At this point, Wicahpiluta stopped and turned to them as they surrounded him. The next question was: “Where do you live?”

“Just up the hill, not too far,” he answered.

“What is your address?” Officer Holmes demanded.

“I haven’t done anything illegal, why do you need my address?” Candelaria asked.

“I’ve had enough of you” said Officer Holmes.

He and the other police officers then approached Candelaria and turned him around, handcuffed his hands behind his back. Candelaria was then shoved to the sidewalk, face down, as the seven police brutally kicked and beat him, around his head and body. They fractured an eye socket, and fractured another area on his head.

At no time did Candelaria resist the officers, he was simply not sure why they were detaining and then attacking him. He thought at first they were upset because he was wearing a San Francisco 49’ers hat, and they weren’t fans. He was wearing his traditional abalone necklace, worn by many California Indian men and women.

“They were having these strange conversations about whether or not to take me to a hospital or to jail; whether or not they had hurt me enough, should they do more,” Candelaria relayed to his close friend Laura Cedillo, who told the story to the Native News Online.

Candelaria had no outstanding warrants against him, had not taken any drugs nor did he have any drugs in his possession, and had not been drinking alcohol. The seven sheriff’s deputies never read him his rights, and charged him with “obstruction of justice.” While in jail, he has received no medical attention, and has only been given ibuprofen and an anti-biotic, according to Cedillo.

After spending three nights in jail late Monday evening, Candelaria was released after the district attorney deemed there were not enough evidence to charge him with “obstruction of justice.”

The extent of the injuries he sustained by the police officers were not known at press time.

Nanette Bradley Deetz is of Dakota, Cherokee and German descent. She is a poet, writer, educator and sometimes musician whose poetry appears in several anthologies. The most current is “Turning a Train of Thought Upside Down,” published by Scarlett Tanager Press; “Turtle Island to Abya Yala, A Love Anthology of Art and Poetry by Native American and Latina Women,” Malinalli Press, and “Alameda Island Theme Poems, 2004,2005 & 2006.” She combines poetry and music in her band, Redbird Giving which performs at many Bay Area native and non-native venues. She is a correspondent for the Alameda Journal and Native News Online.

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