Members of the American Indian Movement of Southern California, Mexica Movement, Colectivo Tonantzin, and other indigenous rights activists demonstrated outside of Wells Fargo Bank on Jeffrey Rd in the city of Irvine, California yesterday morning in support of Niko Black, a 37-year-old Mescalero Apache woman who suffers from a rare form of terminal cancer and was illegally and cruelly evicted from her Garden Grove home on October 10th this year.
On October 10th, Orange County Sheriffs, on orders of a Wells Fargo attorney, evicted Niko Black from her home, even though she had a federal court order forbidding the eviction up on her door. Due to her medical condition, Niko was practically forced to drag herself out of her own home as one OC Sheriff even waved and pointed a gun at her head while forcing her out on to the driveway of her own house.
Since then, Niko has had to stay at a women’s center in Garden Grove and endure a physical and emotional nightmare as she continues to demand justice, not just for herself, but for other victims Wells Fargo has preyed on.
Yesterday, Indigenous elders and Indigenous rights activists Chief Ernie Longwalker and Warrior Woman from the Dakota Nation were part of an opening ceremony that was held outside the Wells Fargo bank in the morning.
Warrior Woman explained that what was happening to Niko is happening to many other indigenous peoples across the nation:
“The struggle of relocation of the elders in Big Mountain is no different from the foreclosure, the land belongs to the indigenous. They sold it, and then they try to resell it back to us and then we buy a house and try to live in the neighborhood, then they foreclose – so how many times are we going to have to reoccupy our own land… they had no right to pull her out of her own home, in a wheelchair and with a gun pointed at.”
During the rally, cars driving by honked in support as protestors carried signs demanding Justice for Niko Black and for Wells Fargo to put an end to illegal home foreclosures.
One of Niko’s supporters, Cindi Alvitre, entered the Wells Fargo bank to close her personal account. While inside, a Wells Fargo supervisor and a security guard denied entrance to other Wells Fargo customers forcing them to wait outside during the “temporary” closure. Protestors waiting outside Wells Fargo cheered Cindi on once she exited the bank. She then explained her reasoning for leaving the bank:
“I’ve held an account with Wells Fargo for fifteen years, but because of this situation I’ve chosen to disconnect from this particular corporation. A lot of us are forced to participate in this system, but as a result of what’s happened with Niko – I can’t do it…I won’t participate in this system“
Later that afternoon, Niko Black made an appearance to thank everyone for the help and support. When asked to share a message to the millions of people watching her story, Niko asked other Wells Fargo victims to not lose hope:
“Don’t stop speaking up and don’t stop fighting, come together. Educate yourself; know what your rights are….This company has a symbol on it, there is a carriage and there are horses. How come nobody asks, what’s inside the buggie? It’s all your stuff! That they stole! They have stolen so much – there isn’t a kid in my neighborhood that could have gotten away with taking a bolt off of that wagon and wouldn’t be in jail for two years, minimum! So I’m asking everybody to say no...I hope that they keep gathering and marching because something has been lost in our community if people stop showing up in the masses. We are all connected – I wasn’t first on the hit list of what happened to me, but I pray that I’m last. The only way that I am going to be last is if everybody says no!”
As Niko ended her statement the crowd of supporters gathered around her while chanting, “What do we want? Justice for Niko Black! When do we want it? Now!”
Later that afternoon, Niko Black and supporters met at Linda’s Mexican restaurant in Huntington Beach where restaurant owner Nick Guerrero, an old Friend of Niko’s, pledged to donate a percentage of the day’s takings to support Niko in her fight for her health and her home.
A petition against Wells Fargo CEO John G. Stumpf, Sandra Hutchens, Sheriff Coroner of the Orange County Sherriff’s Department, and Vickee Adams of Wells Fargo can be found at change.org. More than 130,00 signatures have been submitted demanding Wells Fargo to not “break the law and leave cancer patients alone”.
If you’d like to help Niko you can send a donation through her Paypal account at Justice4NikoBlack@gmail.com. More information and the latest updates may be found at On Attack 4 Niko Black.