Standoff Feared as Tribal Chief Ousts Occupiers

Regolare Commento Stampare

Separate factions of the Narragansett Tribal Council continue a standoff over who will be the tribe's next leader.

"I had an officer call me who was en route and said that they received 911 calls from the building indicating that somebody was breaking in", said Allen. They didn't commit to leaving but declared success in their goals of speaking out.

Although the Charlestown Police Department has been at the scene pretty much non-stop since the sit-in started on Tuesday morning, Police Chief Jeffrey Allen said his department responded again after the power was turned off Friday afternoon.

Utility provider National Grid says it tried to restore electricity but found a volatile situation and was advised by law enforcement to leave the area. A tribal elder's attempt to mediate didn't work.

As of Friday afternoon, Thomas and his supporters were at a nearby building known as the Longhouse.

Both sides involved in the dispute had been hoping for a resolution Thursday morning when a federal judge held a conference call to consider a request for a temporary restraining order against the occupying tribal members.

They also said it was important that tribal members regain access to things such as heating assistance and college tuition checks, which are sent from an office inside the building. Thomas and his supporters filed the request Wednesday, saying the building occupation is unlawful.

But U.S. District Judge John McConnell ruled that his court lacked jurisdiction because it's a question of tribal sovereignty.

Councilwoman Chastity Machado, one of the occupying members, says she's concerned about the group's safety as night falls.

Thomas doesn't recognize the election or his impeachment as legitimate. I think what they're looking for is assurances and guarantees from the federal government, but I don't know if that's going to happen anytime soon.

The U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs said Wednesday that it won't step in. The meeting to impeach him was held outside the building because the tribe's administration wouldn't allow them inside.

His residency has been disputed among tribal members for more than a year. State voter records show his Rhode Island voter registration was canceled in March 2015 because he moved out of the state. Thomas said earlier this month that the time he spends in Port Charlotte, Florida, isn't a problem because he monitors tribal business remotely and maintains a residence in Providence.