(RI) Indians vs. State Tax Collectors


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lapidator
July 15, 2003, 03:41 PM
http://www2.bostonherald.com/news/local_regional/ap_tribe07142003.htm

Narragansetts sue Carcieri, alleging rights violation

Associated Press
Tuesday, July 15, 2003




PROVIDENCE, R.I. - The Narragansett Indian Tribe sued the state Tuesday, claiming their rights were violated during a tumultuous state police raid on the tribe's new tax-free tobacco shop.


The Narragansetts also asked the U.S. District Court to reaffirm that the tribe is a sovereign nation and declare that the state police acted illegally when they arrested eight tribe officials Monday and confiscated tobacco products and $900 from the tribe's smoke shop, which opened Saturday on tribal land.

The suit also seeks a declaration from the court that the tribe has authority to sell cigarette products free of state taxes.

The governor ``said (the smoke shop) violates state law. We said, 'Look, let's let the federal courts decide,''' Narragansett Chief Sachem Matthew Thomas said outside federal court Tuesday.

The lawsuit names as defendants the state, the state police, Gov. Don Carcieri, Attorney General Patrick Lynch, state police Superintendent Steven Pare, the town of Charlestown, the Charlestown Police Department, and the justices of the Rhode Island District and Superior courts.

The tribe also planned to file for a temporary restraining order that would prevent the state from shutting down the tobacco shop again.

Thomas said he would contact the state's congressional delegation to ask for federal law enforcement protection on the reservation.

Meanwhile, the state is preparing to go to state Superior Court over the matter.

Carcieri told WPRO-AM that he'll launch a full independent investigation into the raid and conduct of the state police. He accused the Narragansetts of staging the riot and said it looked like the tribe's resistance was orchestrated.

About 20 state troopers arrived at the Narragansetts' tobacco shop Monday to execute a warrant for search and seizure. Videotape showed state police troopers walking in a line toward the smoke shop and forcibly opening its doors. Several tribal members who resisted were wrestled to the ground and handcuffed.

Pare, head of the state police, said plainclothes officers entered the tobacco store first and served the warrant. The line of troopers followed only after tribal leaders indicated they would not honor the warrant, he said.

But members of the tribe criticized the state's conduct.

``I'm disgusted in the way this was handled,'' said Randy Noka, the tribe's first councilman. ``This is over cigarettes.''

The Narragansett Indians, who have been federally recognized since 1983, began Saturday to sell cigarettes without sales tax or the cigarette tax, in an effort to make money.

By law, Indian sales to Indians aren't subject to government sales taxes, but tribal businesses are supposed to collect taxes on sales to non-Indians.

Carcieri said the tribe was told the shop was illegal, and continued their ``flagrant violation of state law.''

``This is all about the leadership of a tribe that is so frustrated that it did not get a casino,'' Carcieri said Monday. The tribe has been trying to build a casino more than a decade.

A bill that would have put the casino question to voters failed to win legislative approval during the recently concluded session.

Following his release from police custody Monday night, Thomas said the tribe was standing up for its rights.

``The Narragansett Indian Tribe did what it's always done - it stood to protect its land,'' said Thomas, who had two bandages on his left arm and a swollen right wrist. ``It's unfortunate because it's 2003.''

The video shows Thomas with his arms wrapped around a state trooper at the top of the shop's front steps, while one tribal member appears to have his hand on the trooper's throat. Shortly afterward, two troopers pull a man down the steps, and then pull Thomas after him.

Lynch said Thomas not only violated the law by obstructing police, but also insighted others.

Thomas said the tribe was resisting an illegal incursion onto its property.

The state police have said one person was injured in the melee. But Paulla Dove, a member of the tribe's council, said between eight and 10 people complained of injuries and Thomas said one person broke an ankle.

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lapidator
July 15, 2003, 03:43 PM
Video of the raid can be found here (probably not for long)...

http://www.necn.com/

hammer4nc
July 15, 2003, 04:35 PM
The tribe wanted to deal in either cigarettes or a gambling casino. Don't they know that the government is the only one allowed to profit from vice?

citizen
July 15, 2003, 04:37 PM
Just read and saw this on the Fox website; and I have a simple opinion; being a simple guy. (Maybe there's a tv role for me....)

Anyway, since the feds and state recognize the Indians as a sovereign nation, how can they impune to direct them to act as tax collectors ?????
:confused: :rolleyes:

4v50 Gary
July 15, 2003, 04:42 PM
My money is on the Narragansetts to win. They're independent nations with "treaties" with our Federal Government.

seeker_two
July 15, 2003, 06:13 PM
I saw the video on Fox & Friends this morning...

Treaty or not, when those two Indians had their hands around that one state trooper's neck, that was a use of deadly force--and the trooper should have shot them both!...:fire:

Crowd control was severly lacking in that aspect...

Standing Wolf
July 15, 2003, 08:13 PM
Unless people are flicking butts this way and that, smoking is none of government's big nosy business.

MicroBalrog
July 15, 2003, 08:16 PM
I don't understand - are the Indians exempt from all tax laws?

cordex
July 15, 2003, 08:26 PM
Treaty or not, when those two Indians had their hands around that one state trooper's neck, that was a use of deadly force--and the trooper should have shot them both!
If Mexican or Canadian LEOs were walking across the border and forcably attempting to get American nationals to pay taxes to the Mexican or Canadian government, how'd you feel about the American businesspeople trying to fight back? I bet you'd be jumping and screaming for them to shoot the invaders.

Sort of a similar scenario here. The cops were policin' where they had no buisiness policin' - the land of another nation. It's my understanding that police have no authority on tribal land unless they are asked to come assist with something (in which case, they have the choice).

MicroBalrog
July 15, 2003, 08:56 PM
If these guys are exempt from tax laws... and GCA-68 is a tax law...:evil:

lapidator
July 15, 2003, 10:00 PM
as i understand it, they are only exempt from state tax laws.

Cal4D4
July 15, 2003, 10:10 PM
What I saw on tv was one of the tribal police repeatedly asking a state policeman whether they had a Federal warrant and being told repeatedly their papers were state issued. Very interesting situation. I would think a big push came from local taxed and tariffed merchants who could not compete. Bet the Feddies back the Injuns against the state's right to demand tribute.

300lbGorilla
July 16, 2003, 12:23 AM
It looked like the tribal officer was a split second from stepping into the fray and knocking heads with the State Popo.

Apparently RI doesn't understand Federal Law too well... it'll end up costing them, is my guess.

Baba Louie
July 16, 2003, 01:54 AM
Makes one wonder what language their Treaty may have in regards to both Federal AND State Governments taxation policies. They may or may not have "appropriate" wording in place. Heck, there may not even be a treaty between the state and the tribe.

Next thing ya know they'll be bringing in the ATF&E boys and girls to dispense justice... wonder what their take on it would be? Or are they no longer tax police? They're still Tobacco police tho', right?

Curiouser and curiouser...

Adios

Ebbtide
July 16, 2003, 12:25 PM
IMO that was total BS what the Governor had the State Police do. And judging from the responce of the State Patrol, they knew it too.

The Indians, who I buy my smokes from at $1.50 a pack, have a right (I figure) to do what ever they want on their land. And if it cuts into the state's revenue, good!

It is also odd how the Indians have been seeling smokes for 50+ years and this has not been an issue. But now as the state is forcing people to quit (priced out of market) or buy smokes from overseas they are loosing some of their recently invented revenue....and they all need that money for something I'm sure :rolleyes:

A pack of smokes cost less than a buck, to attach a 7.00 tax to a $1.00 item is wrong know matter how you look at it. If they spent that money on say health care, I could be more understanding, but to put it all in the general fund to build infrastructure etc., thats wrong.

It will be interesting how the left views this dilemma.

seeker_two
July 16, 2003, 01:05 PM
If Mexican or Canadian LEOs were walking across the border and forcably attempting to get American nationals to pay taxes to the Mexican or Canadian government, how'd you feel about the American businesspeople trying to fight back? I bet you'd be jumping and screaming for them to shoot the invaders.

Are you saying that the Indians are not US citizens and not bound by any law restricting them from assaulting a duly appointed law enforcement officer?

Debating about tax revenue is one thing. Debating about the active assault on LEO's is another. And I stand by my statement...:fire:

another okie
July 16, 2003, 01:56 PM
Bend over, Rhode Island. You're a little behind the curve so far, but welcome to the club.

Come visit Oklahoma and see the future. Counties and schools with no money to operate. Roads disappearing. Jails and hospitals unable to meet national standards due to lack of tax revenue.

Indian kids go to public schools and use public hospitals and roads, but their parents often pay no state taxes, if they work on tribal land. Add to that all the illegal aliens who work off the books and the percentage of taxpayers in our county is decreasing every year.

In answer to one question above, individual Indians are indeed U.S. citizens and citizens of the state in which they live. But they land they live on and tribal businesses and land may be and usually is exempt from state and local taxes. This is a very complicated legal field, and Congress has given "some" states authority in "some" areas of law. If you want a basic primer, Public Law 280, the Major Crimes Act, and the Indian Gaming Act are first step.

Is Congress going to do anything about local loss of revenue? Not likely. There is something called "Impact Aid," which is a joke, and sometimes tribes agree to pay small amounts "in lieu of taxes." But nothing big is going to happen. My Congressman is an Indian. Think he's going to attack Indian privileges? Not likely. He is, however, very pro-gun, so I guess I'll keep voting for him.

cordex
July 16, 2003, 02:22 PM
seeker,
I'm not saying that the indian gentleman in question was "right" in his actions. Just that I don't think the police had any business breaking into the tobacco shop and stealing money and tobacco. As I said, they were policin' where they had no business policin'. His reaction - while wrong in this case - is a completely understandable knee-jerk response to preceived invaders.

KC
July 16, 2003, 02:39 PM
Those LEO's were out of their jurisdiction. What they did was a criminal offence. The cops knew this, or should have. The Indians knew this. Why do you not? And why do you continue to defend the actions of a state government that is willing to use it's paramilitary forces to conduct blatantly illegal actions?

manwithoutahome
July 16, 2003, 05:08 PM
seeker_two, when your state passes "anti-gun" laws that will outlaw the ownership of guns, I can see that you will be one of the first to comply.

Indian land is NOT owned or controlled by the state. They have NO right to come onto that land and enforce their rules. Indian land is not American land. The tribal counsel runs the land and the state has no say over what they can and cannot do. The feds have more authority but it is limited as to what is in the treaties.

As for ciggs. It is fed. law that a Indian Tribe must charge FEDERAL taxes to ciggs. The tribes are not liable to charge state taxes for ciggs. This is a state thing. The state is wrong on this one. Also, if any "aliens" come into my land and try to force me to do something, it is my Right to defend myself.

Just so I don't make just an enemy out of seeker_two, it is against the law (fed.) for a non-indian to buy ciggs from a Reservation. I, being a card carrying member with a registar number, can.

M

Justin
July 16, 2003, 05:21 PM
By law, Indian sales to Indians aren't subject to government sales taxes, but tribal businesses are supposed to collect taxes on sales to non-Indians. :scrutiny:

Byron Quick
July 16, 2003, 05:30 PM
A good case can be made for many tribe's members NOT being US citizens and for the "treaties" to be null and void. Based on how the US government obtained those treaties.

The Lakota are an example. At the time that the Federal government wished to negotiate a binding treaty with the Lakota, the government ran into a vexing problem: there was not a chief over all bands of the Lakota. In fact, if the chief of a Lakota band behaved in a way that his followers didn't like...they'd just mosey over to another band. Then they'd say to the government: you made a treaty with Red Feather, we belong to Black Feather's band...you have no treaty with him. After making several of these treaties and later finding themselves with a treaty with one Lakota who had lost all of his braves, the government tried a different approach: the federal government appointed by fiat, a chief of all the Lakota and signed a treaty with him. And proclaimed that all the Lakota were subject to its provisions.

So far, it's stood legal challenges.

But it's a fiction and an injustice in fact.

In view of these facts, in my opinion, any non Lakota trespassing on Lakota land deserves whatever happens to him. Don't want bad stuff to happen to this or that individual? Advise them to get permission.

another okie
July 16, 2003, 05:49 PM
As I wrote, this is a very complicated area of the law. Let me clarify a couple of things from a post above:

"Indian land is not American land." Wrong. It is subject to federal jurisdiction. It is just generally not subject to state jurisdiction, except in those areas where the federal government has given jurisdiction to the state.

"The tribal counsel runs the land and the state has no say over what they can and cannot do." Never say never. The Major Crimes Act, Public Law 280, Indian Gaming Act, etc., as I said all in some circumstances given some jurisdiction to the state. But that jurisdiction is limited to what the federal government has given the state. (By the way, I don't want to be a language Nazi, but the word "counsel" used here means lawyer and is confusing. "Council" is meant.)

"The feds have more authority but it is limited as to what is in the treaties."
While this is theoretically true in the short run, treaties may be changed or abolished by federal legislation. The federal government no longer makes treaties with tribes. Instead they pass legislation. The federal government has the power to do away with federal recognition of tribes or with any of their special privileges. Tribes obviously have the right of free association, but without federal recognition they have no more legal privileges than the Elks club.

benewton
July 16, 2003, 05:55 PM
As an escapee from that land, let me be the first to advise all of you that RI is the most corrupt state in the union, with the best politicians that money can buy.

And the police provide the force for the state, and so I can tell you for sure that I see nothing wrong with people fighting back. As noted earlier, the LEOs were out of their jurisdiction, and, so far as I'm concerned, were lucky not to be simply shot.

But, like I said, I escaped, so it's their problem, but it's worth noting the cost of the indian butts below the state mandated (e.g. tax added) price. So, if looking for the criminal, follow the money....

Which brings up the major function of the LEO in most northeast society:

revenue collector!

MicroBalrog
July 16, 2003, 05:57 PM
While this is theoretically true in the short run, treaties may be changed or abolished by federal legislation.

What? So FedGov signed treaties/agreements that it can pull out of just like that, through legislation?

:what:

Byron Quick
July 16, 2003, 06:23 PM
Sure, MB. If you want to know about the US and treaties...find a South Vietnamese and talk about it. Most of the individuals in our government for the past sixty years or so are ignorant of the word: honor.

MicroBalrog
July 16, 2003, 06:27 PM
And that would be legal? :what:

seeker_two
July 16, 2003, 06:37 PM
My reaction is to the way that the Indians behaved. Protesting is one thing, but assaulting an LEO who is not threatening you in any way is quite another. We're letting the rioters rule the roost.

As for justification to them being there...

By law, Indian sales to Indians aren't subject to government sales taxes, but tribal businesses are supposed to collect taxes on sales to non-Indians.

Possible?...:confused:

Monkeyleg
July 16, 2003, 06:46 PM
I don't know the ins-and-outs of federal law and Indian tribes, but I have bought cigarettes at smoke shops on tribal lands. In Arizona, the Navajo's charged far less (~50% less) for the same brands than I paid outside the tribal lands.

citizen
July 16, 2003, 06:54 PM
There's so much "slop" in this thread I'm starting to get upset.:fire: Instead, I'll just add to it......:evil:

Anybody hear of the Mexican initiative to have Texas, N.M., etc. collect income tax from the illegals living there and send it back to Mexico??:banghead: (makes about as much sense:neener: )

Byron Quick
July 16, 2003, 07:06 PM
What? So FedGov signed treaties/agreements that it can pull out of just like that, through legislation?

Well, the Senate ratifies treaties and it can unratify them, too.

On the other hand, in South Vietnam's case, they didn't even bother to do that. When it came down to brass tacks, they refused to follow through on the treaties in place. The US wouldn't even supply South Vietnam with ammunition at the end.

To our eternal shame.

MicroBalrog
July 16, 2003, 07:08 PM
Well, the Senate ratifies treaties and it can unratify them, too.

But if that happens, can the Indians pull out of whatever their obligations are?

Byron Quick
July 16, 2003, 07:39 PM
Of course not, MB. That would be equitable and just...two concepts that governments abhor.

It's like deciphering the IRS code, Micro. If a clause can be interpreted in more than one way then you must pick the interpretation that is to the greatest benefit of the government. If you do that, you can't go wrong.

My take on governments in general parallels General William Tecumseh Sherman's famous quotation on Indians. After a tour of our western Army forts he was asked his opinion of Indians. He replied,"I saw a good Indian once...he was dead."


It might be true that America's government is the best that has ever existed...the best of a bad lot. The choice between governments is not one of good and bad. The choice is between bad and worse.

KC
July 16, 2003, 08:33 PM
"Protesting is one thing, but assaulting an LEO who is not threatening you in any way is quite another."

A LEO out of jurisdiction conducting an illegal search-and-seizure is threatening. What are you smoking and why aren't you sharing?

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