Havre Daily News - News you can use

By Tim Leeds 

Officials deny 'drunken Indians' comment

Commissioner calls Havre Daily to task for failing ‘due diligence’


December 2, 2013

Hill and Blaine county officials said this morning that they want to quell comments by a Ravalli County official from some 300 miles away, and called the Havre Daily News to task for running the articles with the comments without confirming them.

The Havre Daily News ran stories from The Associated Press based on Ravalli Republic story reporting that Ravalli County Planning Commission President Jan Wisniewski said he “had a conversation with law enforcement officials in Havre who complained about their jails being filled with ‘drunken Indians’ off the reservation.”

Wisniewski made the comments to a Ravalli County Commission meeting. Representatives of several law enforcement agencies this morning said race does not come into the picture in local law enforcement.

Hill County Commissioner Mark Peterson said he could not find any local officials who had met Wisniewski, much less made the comments.

Blaine County Sheriff Glenn Huestis said local law enforcement officers charge people whom they have evidence have broken the law — despite claims of racial profiling, especially against Native American law enforcement officers, no evidence has shown that to be true, he said.

“We charge those that violate the law no matter who they are or what they do,” Huestis said. “We get that tossed at us quite a bit, that ‘you’re only doing this because I’m Native American.’ No, you broke the law …

“It really makes working relationships with other entities tough when these comments surface without any validity to them … ,” Huestis said. “When we make a case on somebody, we do not put in reports information unless we can verify it, and I feel the press should do the same thing.”

Hill County Commissioner Mark Peterson, who asked the Havre Daily Friday afternoon to attend the press conference, said he was disappointed the newspaper did not do more to find out to whom Wisniewski had spoken before running the articles — it appears he may not have spoken to anyone, Peterson said.

“We have not been able to verify in any way shape or form him communicating with anybody … ,” Peterson said. “It really concerns me that the Havre Daily News is reprinting information from somewhere else without doing due diligence to follow up and research and see if in fact this statement is true or not true.”

The Republic reported Wisniewski’s comment came at the end of a meeting with representatives of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes held to discuss the tribe’s wish to place some land sacred to its members in a federal trust.

Tribal Council member Steve Lozar told the commision he was deeply offended by Wisniewski’s comment, the Republic reports, and the commission Wednesday voted to hand-deliver an apology to the tribe.

Peterson said the Hill County Commission has received a multitude of phone calls about the articles.

“We do not need that kind of information coming out in Hill County or even the surrounding counties to, if you will, badmouth us when it’s not true,” he said.

The Havre Daily News attempted to contact Hill County Sheriff Don Brostrom — the county detention center is an arm of the sheriff’s office — before running the article, but Brostrom was out of state and did not receive the message before the articles ran.

Wisniewski does not have a listed number or contact information. The Havre Daily made requests for that information last Monday to the Ravalli County Commission, which has not yet responded.

County officials have made their own inquiries. Brostrom provided the Havre Daily with a copy of an email conversation between officials in the Hill County and Ravalli County attorney’s offices, which reports that Ravalli County Commissioners Jeff Burrows and Ron Stoltz “both said that Jan mentioned speaking with a commissioner (not law enforcement, as reported in the paper), but didn’t give a name.”

“We are having so many negative comments directed at local law enforcement, which doesn’t just include the (Hill County) sheriff it includes Blaine County, fish and game, the police department, the Border Patrol … every law enforcement agency in Hill County got a black eye over that, and I think it was credited inappropriately,” he said.

“I cannot understand why this gentleman chose to make those comments or who he supposedly talked to,” Brostrom added.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Game Warden Shane Reno and U.S. Border Patrol Deputy Chief Patrol Agent Aaron Heitke also were at the press conference this morning to express their support for the local law enforcement agencies.

Brostrom, Huestis and Hill County Undersheriff Jamieson Ross and Blaine County Undersheriff Frank Billmayer all made comments that the people in the Hill County Detention Center are there because they are accused of breaking the law, and no other reason, and the law enforcement and detention center officers simply are doing as Montana law requires.

Ross, who was administrator of the detention center before becoming undersheriff, added that the center holds people arrested by officers in several counties in the area and that many are serving time ordered by a judge.

“The jail is a melting pot. We get who we get,” he said.


Reader Comments

ftb writes:

Did havre ever change on racism? No! As long as I remember same thing different year. They do profile natives! They do not like them in their places of buissness! Yet they need natives to make their buissnesses work .. makes no sense. Natives syop giving them your money. Another town I know did this to natives their town is a GHOST TOWN

bullshit writes:

White people have been hurting the Indians for hundreds of years all because of greed it will never stop . Just look at the American government they are rapeing other country's for their resources just like they are doing to the Indians taking lands and resources. I have good friends that are white, black, Mexican,but Havre mt is the most racist place in Montana . I know for a fact I lived all over Montana Havre is a bad place to come . If it wasn't for the Indians money Havre would die.

Iwanna writes:

Alcohol does not discriminate, it does not care who it affects...doesnt matter if you are Native American, White, Black, Mexican, etc.

knowsbothsides writes:

My sister used to work for the Havre Daily News. She also did reporting on Racial Profiling...lo and behold the city cops and HP were harassing her. Havre Daily Does what it wants to WHO it wants. Misuse of their power to print!! Not the first time they caused trouble over their haste to print. Not scared to show their ignorance either!

fortherecord writes:

Just got done reading for the record. Did not see anyone charge with Drunken Indian. Nor was anyone arrested because they are Native. I agree with the person who requested law enforcement park outside of the bars in Box Elder. I live in the neighborhood too and witness far too many people staggering out of the bar and getting into their vehicles. Also, why do they think they have to speed up and go sideways around the corner on the dirt street. SMDH.

why writes:

HDN - my comment in response to ProbablyIndian was all true. The HDN covered the story way back when - look it up! Why are you censoring the truth and the real facts? My comment was not derogatory or racist - just the facts!

Brian writes:

The HDN should follow up with a story based on some facts from HC Detention Center. Surely they keep population data and are able to tell which percentage of each race is at the detention center on any given day.

moostmt writes:

Native Americans are the ones always pulling the race card first. Get over your selves.

thetooth writes:

As a Native American, I ask the highway patrol, hill county, the federales, WHOEVER, to please, please park your vehicles outside the bars in box elder and havre. Please stop my friends and relatives from getting into their suicide machines while under the influence. I cannot stress that enough, thank you. I don't really care what you do in Havre, Hingham or wherever, those folks do not drive drunk around my neighborhood

Timothy writes:

The Ravalli County Commissioners are running a crusade based on their own self-serving agenda. In particular, they are fond of arousing anti-federal fervor. At a recent meeting, they invited an individual who rambled on about Agenda 21 for over 30 minutes, while they limited the other public to 3 minutes. They turned down federal funding for women's health, but insist that Ravalli County is economically devastated. All that un-zoned development...must be a chunk of tax dollars, but find truth?

wow writes:

My guess is that the Hill County jail is full of people that have broken the law. Indians, whites and a mixture of other races. Many if not most of the crimes committed with the aid of alcohol. Drunken law breakers and trouble makers are what they are.

what writes:

Watcher- you must learn to spell correctly to be taken seriously. Are you saying Indians aren't racist? racism is everywhere.

probablyindian writes:

The Hill County Sheriff's office employed a Native American and was in line to become the Sheriff, but he was continuously passed up for promotion. He sued the County and WON. REMEMBER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He said it wasn't about money, it was standing up for himself, as he was a well qualified Officer. IT was approximately 10 or so years ago. He still works for the Hill County Police. Everyone knows who i'm talking about.

getreal writes:

Yes I can verify that the HP parks in and around the other HiLine towns. I have noticed them many times especially near the bars or schools during special events. What is wrong with the HP being by the school when it's out for the day? Their being there may prevent speeding motorists from injuring children.

JKelleherHDN writes:

Joe: Reporter Tim Leeds called the sheriff to get a response. Neither the person at the department nor the sheriff's voice mail indicated that he was out of town. All the morning newspapers in Montana had already run the story. News is a fast-paced business. We don't stir the pot, we just report the news. John Kelleher, Havre Daily News

medtran writes:

I believe there is racism in some of these police activties. Does the Highway Patrol still park in Box Elder by the school when school lets out. Are they parked in Hingham, Rudyard and the other Hi-Line towns, too? Can anybody in those towns answer that?

Joe writes:

Again the paper says they tried to call and confirm the information 1/2 hour to press time and since no one called them back it must be the gospel truth. When are you folks going to get it through your heads that the HDN loves being the pot stirrer? They only report gloom, dispair and things to cause others agony. THE END

Getreal writes:

People of all different walks of life get charged with these violations here if they choose to ignore or break local laws; just read the record and take note of the names. Bottom line is if you choose to trespass on another's property, be drunk in public or you conduct yourself in a threatening or aggressive manner you run the risk of being charged.

Watcher writes:

The problem is the racist people of Havre. Just read the for the record section for your self. There is always a call from 3rd steet reporting suspicious activity and next thing you know a Native is arrested for trespassing, dissorderly or puplic intoxicants.


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