Clyde Bellecourt

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Clyde Bellecourt

AIM History

The American Indian Movement, was founded on July 11, 1968 in Minneapolis, Minn. Three Ojibwa Indians and graduates of “Indian finishing school”—the Minnesota State Penitentiary—were Clyde Bellecourt, Dennis Banks, and George Mitchell were the first leading figures. Other important early members included Eddie Benton Banai, Vernon Bellecourt, and later Russell Means. John Trudell served as national media spokesperson.

With Angela Davis in Ann Arbor

Bellecourt.JPG

People's Progressive Convention

In 1992, a "call" went out to leftist radicals and communist revolutionaries of various orientations to hold a national People's Progressive Convention in Ypsilanti, Michigan, August 21-23, 1992.

Endorsers included Clyde Bellecourt - American Indian Movement.

Legal Rights Center

In 1993, after a pit stop at a white-shoe law firm, Lindquist and Vennum, Ellison landed a job as executive director of the Legal Rights Center, a nonprofit focused on providing indigent defense in the city’s African American, Hmong, and American Indian communities. (One of the group’s founders represented Russell Means and Dennis Banks after their 1973 standoff at Wounded Knee.) Ellison still didn’t shy away from controversy.

He partnered with a former Vice Lords gang leader named Sharif Willis to tackle police brutality—an effort that fell apart when Willis held 12 people up at gunpoint at a gas station. (Ellison has called the alliance “naive.”) But he made a name for himself on tough cases. His aggressive legal tactics were a lot like his approach to political organizing. “Some lawyers will spend most of their time in the back room trying to convince not only their client but also the prosecutor to make a deal—Keith was kind of the opposite,” says Bill Means, Russell’s brother and an early supporter of the Legal Rights Center. “He’d be filing motions five, six at a time on a traffic case.”[1]

Founders of the firm included Doug Hall, Gwen Davis, Syl Davis, Peter Dorsey, and Clyde Bellecourt and Peggy Bellecourt of the American Indian Movement. Ellison succeeded director Billy McGee. [2]

In 1998 Ellison set up his own practice and left the Legal Rights Center. He also joined a community group called Sincere and Loyal African American Men (SALAAM). The group were green T shirts and shut down local drug houses.[3]

Wellstone tribute

"Stand up, keep fighting," the refrain from a Wellstone campaign song, rocked Williams Arena in Minneapolis Oct. 29 2001, as more than 20,000 people packed a memorial service for Sen. Paul Wellstone, his wife Sheila Wellstone, daughter Marcia and three campaign staff members and crew who died in a plane crash Oct. 25.

Wellstone, 58, was in the final weeks of a tough battle to win a third term in the U.S. Senate. A former community organizer, he was professor of political science at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., for 20 years before being elected to the Senate in 1990. Sheila Wellstone, 58, was a national advocate for victims of domestic violence.

In a moving tribute, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said, "I loved him like a brother. [He] was one of those rare souls that so many saw as their best friend." But Harkin went on to say the remarkable spontaneous outpouring for Wellstone was a tribute to the "yearning for a politics that can put principle above the latest poll result."

"Now we must continue Paul's journey for justice in America," Harkin told the crowd. "Will you stand up and keep fighting for social and economic justice? Say yes!" The arena echoed "Yes" from the floor to the rafters.

Cheers greeted the arrival of a host of national political figures, including former President Bill Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore, Sens. Tom Daschle, Edward Kennedy, Robert Byrd, Hillary Clinton.

The biggest hurrahs went to former Vice President Walter Mondale who was expected to step in to replace Wellstone. Also present were the Rev. Jesse Jackson, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, and other labor and progressive leaders.

As the memorial began, Clyde Bellecourt led a Native American Indian drum group, Thunder Nation, in a tribute to the Wellstones.

A group of retired LTV steelworkers rode three hours on a bus from the Iron Range, not far from where the Wellstone plane crashed. Wellstone had come "a dozen times at least" to help in their struggles for medical and prescription drug coverage. "We owe a lot to Paul Wellstone," David Trach, Aurora chapter president of Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees, told the People's Weekly World.

At the memorial, Wellstone's friend Rick Kahn said, "We will not sit quiet. We will never settle for the quick deal that buys the quick headline but leaves for too many people behind. We will fight every one of his fights. We will achieve victories in Paul Wellstone's name." To the cheering crowd he repeated over and over, "Help us win this election for Paul Wellstone."

David Wellstone, Paul and Sheila's older son, ended his eulogy declaring, "We know what we got to do, and let's do it!" [4]

References

  1. Jones. Keith Ellison Is Everything Republicans Thought Obama Was. Maybe He’s Just What Democrats Need. TIM MURPHYMAR/APR 2017
  2. [My Country Tis of Thee, by Keith Ellison page 103]
  3. [My Country Tis of Thee, by Keith Ellison page 110]
  4. PWW, Nov. 2.2002, page 1