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Violence erupts in Seneca Falls after Cayuga Nation press conference (video & photos)

Questions loom after chaotic scene unfolds on Cayuga Nation property

– By Josh Durso

It was a violent day in Seneca Falls, as a leadership dispute that resulted in several buildings being demolished last weekend on Cayuga Nation property escalated further.

A press conference was held by seven chiefs on Saturday, and a short time after the press conference ended a crowd gathered at the site crossing yellow caution tape that lined the property.

That’s when several physical altercations ensued. Those in the crowd clashed with members of the Cayuga Nation Police Department.

Fighting lasted several minutes before nation police used pepper spray to disperse the crowd.

Photo by Greg Cotterill, Finger Lakes News Radio

Law enforcement maintained a presence throughout the incident, but did not intervene. A couple hours after the incident, the Seneca Falls Police Department released a statement, asking for the public’s help as it begins an investigation (statement below).

The entire ordeal is the latest chapter in ongoing unrest within the Cayuga Nation over leadership.

Following the incident, Halftown’s leadership coalition said three people were arrested. None of the arrests were Cayuga Nation members, which runs in contrast with what the Seneca County Sheriff’s Office announced at a public meeting last week.

Then, the Sheriff and Undersheriff in Seneca County noted that Cayuga Nation Police only have authority over Cayuga Nation members, on Cayuga Nation property. Furthermore, that they could only enforce their own tribal laws.

Meanwhile, Halftown’s coalition said in a statement after that an Oneida Indian nation member, Onondaga Nation member, and Seneca Nation member were all arrested on various tribal charges.

A Seneca County resident was also reportedly detained. That person was identified by nation police as Charles Bowman. He as accused of assaulting a Cayuga Nation officer. The Cayuga Nation contends that he will be charged by Seneca Falls police.

The Seneca Falls Police Department issued the following statement:

On Saturday, February 29, 2020, the Town of Seneca Falls Police Department established a command post along with the New York State Police, New York State Park Police, Seneca County Sheriff’s Office, Seneca Falls Fire Department, and the Seneca County Office of Emergency Management, in anticipation of what was planned to be a peaceful press conference and ceremony at the Cayuga Lake Trading property on State Route 89 being held by the Cayuga Nation Chiefs of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.

At about 10:55 am law enforcement received multiple reports of a physical altercations between individuals that were attending the press conference and ceremony and the opposing faction. Multiple law enforcement agencies responded to the scene. Upon arrival, law enforcement diffused the altercations and separated the opposing sides. Police remained on scene to keep the peace until tensions were de-escalated and attendees left the area.

No local or state law enforcement agencies took anyone into custody. The incident is still being investigated. Anyone wishing to provide information to law enforcement is asked to call the Seneca Falls Police Department at 315-568-4850.

Editor’s Note: The videos below contain material that may not be suitable for all audiences. Viewer discretion is advised (violence/explicit language).

Photo by Greg Cotterill, Finger Lakes News Radio

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