P.O. BOX 1663
BEMIDJI, Minnesota 56619-1663

Press Release
April 2, 2005

Contact: Frank Bibeau

Malice at the Palace Casino? - Third unlawful arrest at Palace Casino?

At the Friday, April Fool’s Day, regular Quarterly Meeting for the Leech Lake Reservation Business Committee (LLRBC) some of the estimated 20 plus law enforcement and security personnel who were on hand, seized and arrested another Leech Lake Band member for trespassing at the Palace Casino. Wally Storbakken, an outspoken activist and critic of the State-Reservation Casino Agreement was outside the Palace Casino preparing to enter to attend the public meeting for the Leech Lake tribal membership.

As Storbakken was being handcuffed in front of the Palace, Secretary-Treasurer LaRose was arriving and quickly ran up directing the police to stop, saying “you are violating this band members Article XIII [Civil] Rights!” adding “this is a public meeting and he has a right to be here!” An attorney on the scene asked the police to place the handcuffs in front of Storbakken for the half hour transport to Walker, Minnesota as “he is 50 years old and this is not necessary.” Other concerned Leech Lake Band members rallied also calling for avoiding the unnecessary restraint tactics. The police appeared to discuss the option and promptly declined, placing Storbakken in the back of the Tribal Police car.

LaRose addressed the crowd of tribal members in front of the Palace entrance telling them “these are goon squad tactics” adding “this is a very disrespectful way to treat elders attending a public meeting.” Shortly after the Quarterly Meeting began, Chairman Goggleye and his RBC faction walked out, which has become a common tactic. According to one band member who was at last weeks LLRBC Special Meeting “they walk out so they don’t have to give us any information, many people booed them for avoiding important questions.”

In his first month in Office LaRose himself, the duly elected Secretary-Treasurer of the Leech Lake Reservation, was twice arrested for trespass at the Palace Casino located about 10 miles east of Bemidji, in Cass Lake, Minnesota. Both times Cass County court dismissed the charges. “Its crazy!” said LaRose “as the Secretary-Treasurer I am on the LL Gaming Commission and I have a security badge for full access to all the Casinos.” LaRose explained that several band members have reported false criminal complaints by and to other elected Reservation officials, so that Tribal Police can use the trumped up charges to systematically oppress tribal members’ civil rights. “People get mad when the tribal police to show up in their yard unnounced to deliver letters the Post Office delivers for pennies. It’s just a mean, intentional invasion of privacy. People are scared. LaRose then reported that “Last week an elder Gaming employee grabbed me by the shirt telling me I had to leave the Northern Lights Casino and I was there for an official LLRBC meeting.”

Last week Storbakken testified before the Minnesota Legislature speaking against the Casino deal that Leech Lake Chairman Goggleye keeps telling Legislators tribal members support. “They [LLRBC] are just trying to scare me and physically prevent me from being at the hearing next Monday because I share with the Legislators the many concerns tribal members have about hundreds of millions of dollars in new debt made in secret meetings” Storbakken said, “but I’ll be prepared to speak at the Legislature for next week’s proposed casino deals hearings.” Storbakken also noted “I’m not sure how much time I’ll get to speak because Minnesota Attorney General Hatch will be testifying about the constitutional reasons the state cannot enter into this agreement which will likely cause the Committee to table the bill.”

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To contact: Leech Lake Secretary-Treasurer LaRose (218) 760-7415

Wally Storbakken (218) 368-1999

Click here to see photos taken and provided by Frank Bibeau. Please feel free to use the photos or if higher resolution is required please contact Frank Bibeau via e-mail or the telephone number above.

For other information including documents the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Constitution, which contains Article XIII [Bill of] Rights of Members, please visit our web page at: