Thursday, August 7, 2008

Soboba situation escalating

(even the Marines in Iraq, the toughest we've got, respected the Muslims enough to get down on one knee, point their guns to the ground and retreat before an angry mob of Muslims escalated a situation into a blood bath; we all respect law and order and I certainly don't know all the circumstances here - but again the Sheriff needs to take the high road - you can negotiate with criminals holding hostages but can't talk to Indians?)

State orders parolees living on Soboba reservation to leave

10:00 PM PDT on Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Press-Enterprise

The state parole office announced Wednesday it has ordered all parolees living on the Soboba Indian Reservation to leave for their own safety and because of concerns of escalating violence that could affect the safety of parole agents.

In a move that Tribal Chairman Robert Salgado Sr. called discrimination, the regional and state parole office has ordered five members of the tribe currently on parole to leave and find new housing immediately. No deadline has been set for their departure, said Gordon Hinkle, spokesman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

"They don't do this in central LA. They're trying to put pressure on us," Salgado said. "This is discrimination. Unless they want a discrimination suit, they better pull back or they're going to get it."

The Soboba tribe has been in a dispute with the Riverside County Sheriff's Department since three tribal members were killed on the reservation in shootouts with deputies.

The Sheriff's Department said it should have open access to the reservation while conducting police business.

Sheriff's officials declined to comment about the parole office's orders.

Hinkle denied the move was discriminatory and said parole officers have the right and jurisdiction to supervise housing of parolees. Officials were unaware of any contact between parole agents and the Sheriff's Department.

"We're aware of shootings and recent attempts on the lives of law enforcement on the reservation," Hinkle said. "We don't want to put our agents in the line of fire and the parolees themselves if we know there is escalating violence."

Salgado said he was notified by several members of his tribe who are on parole that they were ordered to report to the state parole office in Moreno Valley today to discuss relocating off the reservation or else they would be found in violation of their parole.

A guard shack that sits at the residential entrance to the reservation requires law enforcement and visitors to identify themselves and tell the purpose of their visit before they are allowed to proceed. Authorities are not required by tribal law enforcement to stop if they are in pursuit of a suspect or responding to an emergency.

Hinkle said none of the parole agents have faced confrontations or problems gaining access. In recent visits, agents said they were escorted by tribal law enforcement officers.

Salgado defended the check-in policy at the gate and said both parole officers and deputies are given access when needed. Salgado said he believes the parole office's actions came as a result of the Sheriff's Department's dispute.

"This is coming to a head. If they want to play hardball, this is the game," Salgado said. "The sheriff thinks he can come on the reservation and kill Indians because he has a badge."

Riverside County Sheriff Stanley Sniff said last week that impeding deputies on patrol is a criminal offense and called for the Soboba Casino to be shut down.

He said limiting access to deputies is unsafe.

Also, today, the National Indian Gaming Commission is expected to do a safety inspection of the Soboba Casino. The federal Indian gaming regulatory agency's spokesman described the inspection as the kind of "periodic site visit" commissioners make routinely to Indian casinos across the country.

It's unknown if the commission will grant Sniff's request, although it has the power to close a casino for safety reasons.

Salgado said the commissioners' visit is in response to a request he made earlier this summer following the fatal shootings in May. He has said he welcomes the visit, and the tribe has nothing to hide.

Staff writer Michelle DeArmond contributed to this report.

Reach John Asbury at 951-763-3451 or