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OPD team framing Indigenous Elder RunningWolf for "hate crime" includes racist killer cop

by Free RunningWolf
After five months, Indigenous Elder Zachary RunningWolf is still being held as a political prisoner due to OPD interference in Berkeley's 2020 Mayoral Election. Systemic racism and corruption in the prisons & courts have undermined RunningWolf's rights to a fair trial, while corporate media circulates lies and covers up Anti-Indigenous Genocide.
It has now been five months since Indigenous Elder Zachary RunningWolf was arrested by the Oakland Police Department, shortly before the 2020 Berkeley Mayoral election in which he was a write-in candidate. This is the second cycle in a row in which the OPD interfered with his Mayoral Campaign (see here and here for articles about 2016). He is still being held as a political prisoner at Santa Rita Jail, awaiting sentencing on April 2nd.

From the beginning, Indigenous Elder Zachary RunningWolf’s arrest, incarceration, and trial have been plagued with misconduct and systemic abuses which have made it unfair - and oppressive - from virtually every angle. Although he was acquitted of all but one “hate crime” charge against him, he is still facing up to six years in prison and needs the support of everyone who is committed to prison & police justice, racial justice, Indigenous rights, and Earth defense.

The Orwellian farce of a team of twelve OPD officers investigating and arresting an Indigenous Elder for an alleged “hate crime” is another flagrant example of police injustice in the Bay Area. One of the officers on this team was Omar Daza-Quirroz, the racist cop who murdered Derrick Jones, an unarmed Black man, in 2010 because the cop “wanted to get lethal.” RunningWolf's campaign platform is notable for his outspoken position for abolishing colonial prisons and police (which commit hate crimes EVERY DAY!), and advocating reparations and decolonization.

As Zachary RunningWolf is an Elder (58 years old), he is also at a heightened risk for COVID amidst what is now Santa Rita’s fifth outbreak. The jail continues to fail basic safety and sanitation protocols while packing in more prisoners rather than letting people out.

Please visit for more information on Elder RunningWolf’s Mayoral Platform, his other political campaigns, and to get in touch with any support you can offer.

The following is a brief summary of just SOME of the issues which have undermined RunningWolf’s rights and will be raised in his upcoming appeal:

1. False Arrest: RunningWolf was arrested without identification, prompting a nearly hour long detention outside his encampment where the police asked him his name, but he refused to give it. Finally, after taking him to the station, they issued him multiple warrants including a CHP warrant that he was already arrested and released for (which is illegal - double jeopardy). When he asked for an internal affairs form, they refused because they were still demanding positive identification after 2.5 hours in custody.

2. Media Lies: The police told the media that primary evidence they had against him was a flier containing a “symbol” on it that was also found at the “crime scene.” This symbol was in fact a MEDICINE WHEEL. The police treated his practice of Native spirituality as criminally suspicious and corporate media have repeated this unquestioningly, while allowing ambiguous framing to imply that this ‘evidence’ was actually a Nazi swastika.

3. Hate Speech: Rather than refer to Zachary RunningWolf by his real name, the police, courts, and corporate media used an invented alias “Freddie Lee Smith” to separate him from his true name and Indigenous identity. As a survivor of the tribal termination genocidal policy of family separation, RunningWolf was adopted and grew up detached from his family's name as a consequence of genocide. The police, court system, & corporate media’s erasure perpetuates this violence.

4. False Charges: The Corporate Media & Police lie that RunningWolf spray-painted the message “Bye Bye Evil Evil Evil Jews” has been proven unequivocally false. This was known to be false to the police and prosecution for months, yet RunningWolf was obstructed from defending himself because even his public defenders withheld this evidence from him for three months. The graffiti which was found near Temple Sinai actually said: “Bye Bye Evil Serra, by Evil Pope, & Evil 49ers” with the word “Jews” written underneath this message. See for yourself HERE.

A. Junipero Serra was the Architect of the California Genocide, via Death Camps which were used by the colonizers to incarcerate, enslave, and kill 90% of the Native population in under a century. In 2015 Pope Francis canonized Serra as a saint, proclaiming as infallible doctrine that he is being rewarded eternally in heaven for committing genocide against Indigenous people. The 49ers are the U.S. heirs of the Spanish Genocide who massacred and rapidly killed 90% of the remaining Indigenous population in just a few decades.

B. For the last five months, there has been no willingness or accountability on behalf of the parties accusing RunningWolf to acknowledge that their misframing of this graffiti - which was used to defame him in corporate media - is literally GENOCIDE DENIAL. It actively erases the ONGOING California Genocide against Indigenous People (as defined under international law as the Land is STILL stolen, Indigenous Sovereignty is STILL denied, and the Ohlone are STILL not federally recognized) and undermines the struggle to END this genocide by falsely portraying an Indigenous Elder and Mayoral Candidate as an “anti-semite.”

C. RunningWolf denies having vandalized the Synagogue with a Nazi Swastika. The prosecution has no evidence whatsoever that he has done so. All they presented was a video showing him approaching the temple doors after painting a Sacred Indigenous Medicine Wheel on the street corner by the Synagogue. However, one of RunningWolf’s fliers WAS found on the temple doors - taped there as a part of RunningWolf’s campaign to end the California Genocide, and evicting the Catholic Church under Indigenous Law for protecting child molesters and canonizing Serra. RunningWolf felt that Temple Sinai was in need of education based on past conversations he had with congregants who told him they were celebrating the canonization of Junipero Serra.

5. Unfair Trial:

A. Due to repeated non-cooperation from the public defender’s office (who kept switching his lawyers, refused to meet with him for months at a time, and withheld exonerating discovery from him for 3 months), RunningWolf successfully filed to represent himself as a pro-per lawyer. Despite this, he was denied his rights under the law to have discovery provided to him in a timely fashion. Even after 4 months and with the trial starting he had still not been provided with the video footage by the DA. The judge did not sanction the DA for violating his legal rights in ANY WAY.

B. Despite the disadvantage of representing himself without access to a law library, literally being incarcerated, prison guards throwing out all his papers a month and a week before the trial, and having no time to prepare after not seeing the evidence against him until AFTER the trial started, the Judge repeatedly ruled to further prevent RunningWolf from mounting his defense:

i. RunningWolf was prevented from calling on ALL BUT ONE of his witnesses (at least 6 were excluded). None of the DA’s witnesses were barred from testifying.

ii. It was deemed impermissible for him to even tell the Jury that the Nazi’s concentration camps were directly inspired by America’s reservations and genocidal oppression of Indigenous people

iii. He was not allowed to tell the jury about his hunger strike in 2016 or 2020 to protest OPD election interference

iv. He was not allowed to present a campaign flier during the trial which called out police interference in the election as evidence that he was being targeted, despite the Judge having previously ruled it was admissible.

v. His motion to have the police’s records unsealed to examine whether they had been a part of the 30+ officer sex trafficking and child molestation cover up (which RunningWolf has been working to expose and for which they are targeting him) or had a history of racial profiling was denied without just cause. One of the TWELVE police assigned to his “hate crime investigation” was Omar Daza-Quirroz, the racist cop who murdered Derrick Jones, an unarmed Black man, in 2010 because he “felt like getting lethal.”
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