Protestors gather as Cayuga Nation police arrest 3 more Halftown critics
Protestors in the Cayuga Nation rallied after tribal police arrested three citizens on Saturday. It’s the latest clash between the tribe’s controversial leader, Clint Halftown and his longtime critics. All three detainees are related to the woman whose home was demolished last month on orders from Halftown.
Several witnesses said about 50 police and armed security officers were on hand during the first arrest outside a partially demolished Cayuga Nation home in Varick, near Seneca Falls.
Cayuga Nation spokesperson Maria Stagliano said in a press release that officials came to the demolished house to conduct an asbestos inspection.
Family and supporters of Wanda John, the Cayuga woman who lived in the house, have been occupying the property since Halftown ordered a surprise demolition of the building in August. Stagliano said the building was demolished because it was dilapidated and because John was living there illegally. John and her supporters dispute those claims.
John said tribal police had her son, Woody Carlin Seneca, on the ground in a chokehold during the arrest.
"There were like six or eight guys around trying to take him down and the two other guys with mace and their hands on a trigger," John said.
Police later also arrested John’s sister, Theresa Longboat, and her son, Elijah Jimerson. The two were protesting Seneca’s arrest outside the tribal court in Seneca Falls.
Jimerson's wife, Judi Jimerson, said she was on her way to join them when she saw her husband collapsed on the pavement.
"He was being dragged [by police]," Jimerson said. "They had tased him already and had him in cuffs and they had picked him up. They were dragging him across the boathouse parking lot. I came across and I was screaming and yelling."
Jimerson said besides injuries from the taser, her husband appeared to have other injuries consistent with a blow to the head.
During the arrest, Longboat, a 60-year-old amputee, sustained injuries, which led to a hospital visit.
Police later released Longboat, but her son and nephew were held without bail on weapons charges. (Jimerson had a pair of self-defense knuckles in his possession; Seneca had an airsoft gun near him during the confrontation.)
In a statement, Stagliano said Seneca was arrested for a previous warrant for acts of criminal mischief. John said those charges are in connection to protests against Halftown's leadership.
The two men are currently detained in a private prison facility in Pennsylvania.
Longboat, Jimerson and Seneca are due in tribal court later this month. A fourth man, also a critic of Halftown, was arrested earlier last week. He will appear in court on Tuesday.