Tribal Treaty Fishing Rights Tensions Escalate in the Puget SoundTweet
AS STATE FISH & WILDLIFE ACCUSES PIERCE CO. PROSECUTOR OF ACCEPTING TRIBAL BRIBES, TULALIP FISHERMEN FILE FEDERAL CIVIL RIGHTS SUIT AGAINST THE DEPARTMENT’S DIRECTOR AND OFFICERS
Over Last 48 Hours, State-Tribal Treaty Fishing Rights Tensions Rise With Lawsuit, and King 5 Story Regarding DFW Agent Accusations Against Local Prosecutor and Tribes
October 31, 2018 Seattle, WA – On Monday, two Tulalip Indian fisherman and their spouses filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in King County Superior Court against the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) and thirteen of its officers and agents, including DFW’s immediate past and current Directors, alleging that since 2015, they “have levied a full-fledged assault against Plaintiffs under the guise of a ‘criminal investigation,’ when in fact Defendants’ intent was, and remains, to attack Indian Treaty fishing and destroy intra-tribal and inter-tribal Treaty fish distribution and commerce.”
In a story you might only expect to witness in cinema, Tulalip Plaintiffs Hazen Shopbell and Anthony Paul detail a racially driven state scheme of “epic and unbelievable proportion,” including DFW’s:
· “Forum shopping to five courts for issuance of at least thirty-two search warrants against Plaintiffs and their family members, bankers, accountants, and tax preparers….
· The search of Plaintiffs’ persons on the day of a lucrative crab fishing opener, and of Plaintiffs’ homes in the presence of their young children;
· A referral to Washington State Child Protective Services based on knowingly false information that Plaintiffs’ children were in danger;
· The destruction, and loss, of Plaintiffs’ personal belongings, which is corroborated by Defendant Wendy Willette’s commingling of Plaintiffs’ seized computer hard-drive with methamphetamine ‘crystals’ and ‘powder’ that Defendants had seized as drug evidence in a case unrelated to Plaintiffs; and
· The referral of purported state criminal charges to five state prosecuting attorney offices and the filing of two sets of charges, one of which resulted in a prosecutorial dismissal that Defendants claim was ‘politically motivated’ and obtained because ‘the Tulalip Tribe paid . . . the Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, or funds them in some way.’”
Complaint, at 3.
DFW agent recklessness and incompetence underpins the allegations in Plaintiffs’ 24-page lawsuit.
Yesterday, King 5 published a story regarding the Pierce County Prosecutor’s dismissal of the criminal charges against Plaintiffs.
The story includes the Prosecutor’s Dismissal Memo, revealing that DFW withheld information from the Prosecutor when meeting with his office and referring those charges for filing in Pierce County:
“At this meeting we learned additional information, that was not provided to us prior to considering this case….In addition, we learned all defendants have a viable defense that we were not told about….This would be a complete defense in the case.”
As a result, the Pierce County Superior Court dismissed those charges at the request of the Prosecutor, on July 23, 2018.
King 5 also published an email from DFW agent Erik Olson to the Pierce County Prosecutor, alleging that the dismissal instead resulted from “the fact that both the Tulalip Tribe and the Puyallup Tribe are financial contributors to Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist’s re-election campaign” and “[t]he Tulalip tribe has also contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars over the last few years to the Democratic Party, which Prosecutor Lindquist has declared to be a member of.”
Agent Olson is a named defendant in the Tulalip Plaintiffs’ new federal civil rights lawsuit. The case is set for trial in King County on October 28, 2019.
Read plaintiff’s civil rights Complaint and the Pierce County Superior Court’s dismissal Order are attached here 1. 10-29-18 Complaint and Pierce County 7-24-17 Order of Dismissal (9619341 v 1) (1)
For more information contact:
CONTACT: Gabriel Galanda
PHONE: (206) 300-7801