Remembering Vernon Bellecourt, Strategist, Diplomat, Warrior,Uncle,Teacher and Friend by Thomas Pearce

Vernon Bellecourt providing strategic counsel to Warriors at Falls of the Ohio Occupation, In Picture Chico Dulak, Vernon Bellcourt, the late Mike Ford, , Myself Randy Medrano

“You kids have bitten off more than you can chew said he man at the table in the coffee shop outside the Democratic convention in 1988 in Atlanta”. I turned to look at who was speaking to me. It was Vernon Bellecourt, one of the brightest minds to ever come from Indian Country. I was speechless of course. What were the odds that he would be here where a large group of radicals and militants were about to have a confrontation with police outside the Omni? Well of course, where else would Uncle be. It is amazing he passed on the day after Columbus day, one of his strongest efforts to oppose racism was his effort to counter the celebration of 500 years of genocide since Columbus.  It is also not surprising he was in Venezuela meeting with Hugo Chavez’s top advisers negotiating for cheap heating oil for Indian nations in the USA shortly before he died.

He asked me what our demands were. I responded “break down this evil government”. He said “you look outnumbered and you look frantic, and you look like you are about to get your butts kicked and no one will ever know you existed.” “What do you think?” I looked out the window. We had running confrontations with the Atlanta police for days. They had taken all the homeless people out of the parks downtown and pushed them elsewhere. We had been retaking the parks. We had disrupted Good Morning America broadcasting live in Woodruff Park, and the cherry on top? We had carried out a citizen’s arrest on Randall Terry the Operation Rescue terrorist on his way to shut down an abortion clinic. We had also closed Georgia Power in the name of the people and we had gotten the police damn mad at us. Us being a ragtag group of Anarchists, African American militants, No business as Usual, the RCP, AIM youth, and if I left anyone out tell me I will add you in. We were drawing attention to the Democratic Party and its shabby treatment of Jesse Jackson’s candidacy (Jesse took 7 Southern States and was not invited to be VP).

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Remembering Mike Haney- A life of resistance with a smile by Thomas Pearce

There we were hurtling through the snow on a cold night down Interstate 74, my eyes wide, I was slumped into the red leather back seat of the massive Cadillac crammed full of fugitives heading toward Indianapolis on the way to Cleveland for the opening day of Baseball to protest the Wahoo or as Mike Haney and Vernon Bellecourt liked to call them “the Cleveland Franchise”.

On the radio a voice was saying “Illinois State Police are looking for a group of American Indians who broke into (lie) the Dixon Mounds Museum today and tried to rebury the remains of American Indians on display there. Mike looked back at me from the front seat and with a wink said “good one huh” and then “how does it feel to be an AIM gangster on the run?” I looked back all wide-eyed gulped and said “great” shakily. He and Vernon cackled and laughed and started making fun, “yep you’re in it now, you can never get out”. I look back at that night one of many and smile deep in my soul. Mike Haney and Vernon Bellecourt were two of the most important influences on my life.

Mike Haney speaking to an African-American Congregation at Chestnut Baptist Church about racist mascots as Jessie Jackson, Alderman Paul Bather, Dennis Banks, and myself look on.    

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