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Oakland: RunningWolf on Trial

Thursday, January 31, 2008
8:30 AM - 9:15 AM
Event Type:
Press Conference
Zachary RunningWolf
Location Details:
661 Washington Street, Oakland, CA. at the Oakland police department.

January 30, 2008

Cultural Defense for Use of Sacrament Put to the Test in Case Involving Oaks Tree-Sit Leader

Oakland-On Thursday, January 31, attorneys from Tony Serra’s Pier 5 law office will argue for dismissal of charges of possession of mushrooms in the case of Native American leader/elder Zachary Running Wolf, a Blackfeet spiritual leader who spearheaded the 14-month tree-sit at the Memorial Oak Grove (Ohlone Burial ground) on UC Berkeley (UCB) campus, along with students and other community activists. A press conference at 8:30 a.m. with Bay Area Native American leaders will follow a sage ceremony and precede the 9 a.m. court hearing before Judge Sandra Beane in Oakland Superior Court at 661 Washington St., Oakland.

Running Wolf was charged last October with possession of psilosybin mushrooms, a MISDEMEANOR AT THE OAK GROVE ON A WARRANT
However, argues attorney Omar Figueroa, it is known that medicine men in some tribes use mushrooms helpful in inducing visions as a sacrament to bring knowledge to the tribe, as is practiced with the ayawasca SP?? mushroom amongst indigenous people in Brazil. There is precedent for use of peyote as a sacrament among native peoples of the southwest in the U.S. (“Woody case” in California Supreme Court). Figueroa and co-counsel James Clark plan to bring expert witnesses including Gary Hill, vice-president of the Native American Church.

The cultural defense Running Wolf’s attorneys will argue invokes the constitutionally protected right to practice one’s religion of choice, particularly when it is historically recognized, and to use sacraments in that practice.

Running Wolf continues to maintain a presence at the Oak Grove tree-sit, where he has been targeted by police, racking up the most arrests of any individual there—11 at this date. Others from the tree-sit will be in Oakland court next week for their trials.

Added to the calendar on Wed, Jan 30, 2008 9:12AM
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