The information compiled below is nothing new; we are not saying anything that hasn't been said repeatedly before -- this narrative and the evidence surrounding it has been available, but actively suppressed, for decades.

What is this trial about?

Jones Vs. Parmley is a civil suit being brought forth by fifteen Haudenosaunee people commonly referred to as the #Onondaga15. After nearly twenty years of being strung along by the courts, the Onondaga 15 are currently in federal court in Syracuse, NY, representing themselves “pro se” in a civil lawsuit against 52 New York State troopers who were operating under the name “I-81 Indian Detail” under the command of former Major James Parmley. The plaintiffs have been actively suppressed in their attempts to acquire legal representation. The plaintiffs are mostly elderly and disabled by the extensive injuries they endured from prolonged beatings at the hands of the “I-81 Indian Detail”.

This trial pertains to an incident of mass police brutality in which state troopers attacked over 150 Haudenosaunee babies, children, women, men, Clan Mothers, and elders. The attack occurred on May 18, 1997 on private property owned by the Jones family, which lay within the boundaries of the Onondaga Nation Reservation outside so-called Syracuse, NY. This trial will determine whether James Parmley and 52 state troopers operating as a part of the “I-81 Indian Detail” are guilty of excessive use of force and misconduct in the suppression of free speech, violating 1st and 4th amendment rights. The evidence speaks for itself.

“We are the victims of the horrific beating by the New York State Troopers “I-81 INDIAN Detail” special death squad on May 18, 1997. The court is trying to sidetrack us into procedural traps to get the case thrown out. The police video says it all. We weren’t on the road. The super armed cops invaded private property and beat us with wooden clubs. We want our day in court on the merits, not the procedures that are being set up to sideline us.”
— Kahentinetha Bear (Mohawk Nation), curator at Mohawk Nation News and victim of the NYS I-81 Indian Detail Attacks of 1997

Families from all Six Nations of the Confederacy were at the gathering that day –– Onondaga, Mohawk, Oneida, Tuscarora, Cayuga, and Seneca. They were there to light a sacred fire –– an important ceremony in Haudenosaunee culture to call in the people — and to share traditional foods and support for one another, but most importantly, they were there to share information about corruption taking place at Onondaga Nation. The corruption involved an illegitimate power grab with an eye to destabilizing and undermining traditional governance systems, which was in direct violation of the The Great Law of Peace –– the oral constitution whereby the Six Nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy are bound together.

Those gathered there that day on the Jones’ family’s property to discuss and expose this corruption did so at the instruction of traditional Clan Mothers and tribal leadership. The group of non-traditional, self-appointed “leaders,” who had been working to usurp power and disrupt the traditional Onondaga governance systems, retaliated by signing documents entering into a legal negotiation with the NYS Police, allowing then-Major Parmley and the “I-81 Indian Detail” onto the reservation. This group of self-styled leaders was also in secret negotiations with New York State Governor George Pataki under the guise of their self-appointed “authority”.

The “I-81 Indian Detail” was comprised of more than 80 militarized state troopers in riot gear, armed with guns and nightsticks. The officers all wore pieces of duct tape over their names and badge numbers and helmets over their faces, effectively concealing their identities. After marching down the road in formation under the direct orders of Major Parmley, the “I-81 Indian Detail” mercilessly charged the families gathered there, unleashing an indiscriminate attack with their batons, fists, and feet. The attack began just as a Clan Mother was leading a ceremony to open up the space in their traditional way.

Newspeople from at least three local news stations had been present that day at the request of the Onondaga People. The press had been asked to attend the gathering with cameras and recording devices to help document abuses and corruption happening against the Onondaga People. They had issued a media advisory in the form of a flier, which was being handed out to drivers passing by the Jones’ family’s property alongside highway 81. The troopers were ordered to clear everyone off their private property simply because of this alleged trespass. Newspeople documented that there was no blockade and that traffic had only been slowed by interested drivers who accepted the fliers, some even pulling over to hear more, and others giving waves and honks of support as they drove by. One cameraman was repeatedly harassed and badgered by Major Parmley, who demanded that he stop filming immediately. Parmley can be observed on film swiping at the cameraman’s camera and then arresting him, temporarily suppressing the footage.

The evidence that James Parmley and the state troopers operating as part of the “I-81 Indian Detail” are guilty of excessive use of force and violations of free speech speaks for itself.

Unfortunately, much of the evidence is not being allowed to be seen in court and it is clear to our legal support team, as well as to sympathetic news media, friends, family, and supporters that the Onondaga 15 are not getting a fair trial. We have documented extensive abuse in Judge Frederick Scullin’s courtroom, including: preventing family members from entering the courtroom, not allowing relevant video footage into the trial, not allowing any audio recordings into the trial as evidence, and ordering federal court marshals to physically remove plaintiffs from the courtroom. Judge Scullin has coached state troopers from the stand during questioning, and has prevented plaintiffs (who are operating as their own legal representation) from examining witnesses themselves — in some instances actually taking over the questioning of the witnesses himself. And so on.

Over the last twenty years, some of the plaintiffs have received death threats and have had family members physically attacked, banished from the reservation, and even murdered in an effort to silence their dissent. That’s right — one of the plaintiffs, Ronald Jones, was found bludgeoned to death in the rubble of his burned-down family home. Autopsy reports show that Mr. Jones died of blunt force trauma to the head and that the fire was started by arson in an attempt to cover up the murder. What has been deliberately and carefully constructed to be dismissed as “intra-community drama or conflict” by outsiders in reality constitutes extreme colonial violence.

The state is violating Haudenosaunee traditional governance and cherry-picking the indigenous people with whom they want to enter into legal relations. The state is using its power to enact violence and mass police brutality onto traditional Haudenosaunee people, using force to beat, murder, and terrorize them into silence and submission. The state is working with and using physical violence to back the authority of non-traditional self-imposed “leaders” in an effort to control and exploit the true Onondaga People. These non-traditional leaders have been connected to rapes, arson, murder, and a slew of corruption complaints. Documentation of this is available and is currently being compiled and reviewed by our legal supporters.

“It’s not just the tax. We’re protesting the Bureau of Indian Affairs and New York state telling us who we should recognize as our leaders.”
— Nikki Sun (Onondaga Nation), whose brother and sister were brutalized and arrested during the I-81 Indian Detail attacks

The Onondaga 15 are taking this case to trial not just for themselves, but to represent the dignity and survivance of thousands of Haudenosaunee people and their traditional governance systems. We must stand with them. Our support and the visibility we can help to bring them can work to ensure that those who wish to harm them, their families and their supporters cannot do so without other people understanding exactly what is going on. We are thankful for all those who have lended their support to bringing visibility to this case, including the lawyers from across the U.S. and Canada who have offered legal advice and support moving into the future. We look forward to hearing from news media who would like to cover this story. There are certainly more than a few exposés to be written!

For more information on what happened on May 18, 1997, please see the media links and watch the videos, which clearly depict prolonged and widespread police misconduct, abuse, and brutality.