Two members of the St. Paul City Council are lending their political platforms to a conflict in rural California that includes water restrictions, cannabis producers, a deadly police-involved shooting and the Hmong community. Minnesota and California are home to the largest Hmong populations in the country.
Council members Dai Thao and Nelsey Yang, who are both Hmong, have called for a federal investigation at the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office.
The county, which is located about 30 miles south of the Oregon border, approved an ordinance in May aimed at curbing the growing operation of illegal marijuana. The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office has used social media to ask marijuana growers and other community members to consider the effects of heavy water use on the area’s wells at a time of record heat and potential drought.
The ordinance prohibits water trucks from carrying more than 100 gallons of water on some county roads without a permit. An increasingly vocal number of residents have pointed out that the rules apply mostly in the rural, unincorporated communities of Butte Valley and Big Springs, areas with large Hmong populations.
Members of the Hmong community say the new rules unfairly target the use of water in their homes and have organized public rallies to speak out, with an estimated 300 people attending the latest rally on Saturday.
Advocate Zurg Ziong entered the 11th day of a hunger strike outside the Siskiyou County Courthouse on Friday, KDRV TV-12 . According to.
Tensions have been heightened by the fatal shooting of 35-year-old Soblij Koub Hauz of Kansas City, Kan., who was killed by police during a lava fire evacuation in the Mount Shasta area in late June.
The Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office said law enforcement officers from several agencies attempted to stop him from proceeding into an evacuation area, and Hodge responded by lifting a handcuff at them and firing several rounds. According to the sheriff’s office, officers retaliated.
According to MtShastaNews.com, Hmong’s advocates dispute those facts and have demanded the release of the police video. The man’s wife and three children were following him in the vehicle and saw his death.
“The shooting involving officers is a complex investigation that takes time to fully investigate,” the sheriff’s office said in a posting on its Facebook page on Thursday. “There are some details about this incident that have not been made public as the investigation is ongoing; However, in future, after the completion of the investigation, the full report of the incident will be made public. We seek your patience and understanding as this investigation is being completed.”
In addition to calling for a federal investigation, this week Thao and Yang called for the dropping of all charges against 14 Hmong men arrested for trying to return to their homes during the evacuation.
“Siskiyou County has a history of racial discrimination (against) communities of color,” Yang said in a written statement. “Now, that racism comes in disguise – isolating the Hmong community from the water, which is a violation of human rights.”
Thao said that “there needs to be accountability. … the sheriff and his department cannot be the judge, jury and executioner. This will only further escalate the relationship between the community and law enforcement.”