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American Indian Movement Planning Possible Boycott Of Bemidji Businesses

Leaders with the American Indian Movement (AIM) in Bemidji say a boycott of Bemidji businesses could happen in the near future in response to feelings of poor race relations around town.

Jeffery Moreno and Curtis Buckagna, the co-founders of the Bemidji chapter of AIM, say leaders from three reservations surrounding Bemidji including Red Lake Nation, Leech Lake Band Of Ojibwe, and White Earth Nation would participate in the boycott if race relations are not improved in the near future.

Moreno says AIM recently did surveys through Facebook with various tribal members about how they were being treated in Bemidji. He says many of them felt business owners were not treating them well. These include stories of being followed in stores. Moreno also adds some natives are hesitant to apply for work in Bemidji because of how they are being treated.

Moreno also claims the Beltrami County Jail is disproportionally locking up more native people and that many natives feel they are being targeted more by police.

Moreno says a boycott is the last resort but says it is possible, citing the 1966 Red Lake Boycott of Bemidji as an example of what could happen.

If the boycott does happen, each reservation would give their business to other surrounding communities. Leech Lake would be encouraged to shop in Brainerd and Grand Rapids. Red Lake would be encouraged to go to Thief River Falls or Detroit Lakes. White Earth would be encouraged to go to Fargo or Detroit Lakes.

Moreno says tribal leaders would like to sit down with Bemidji officials including the Bemidji City Council, law enforcement and mayor to resolve issues and come up with solutions to the problems.

AIM has scheduled a community meeting for April 26th at 6pm in the American Indian Center in Bemidji. The possible boycott is on the agenda for the meeting. The meeting is open for anyone to attend.


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