UPDATE: Sheriff Luce: County Road 124 shut down for two hours during Cayuga Nation demolition, standoff between opposing factions
The Cayuga Nation demolished three structures in Seneca County on Wednesday afternoon.
The two properties at 4 Briarwood Circle in Seneca Falls and 2906 County Road 124 in the Town of Varick had long been used by ‘squatters’ as a site for illegal activity, said the Nation in a press release.
The demolitions were carried out by the Cayuga Nation Police under the direction of Clint Halftown, the Nation’s federal representative. They say there were no people lawfully leasing or inhabiting the property.
Cayuga Nation: Varick property played host to illegal squatters, code officer ordered its demolition
Local governments allegedly received complaints about a “group of criminals,” including convicted felon Marcus Redeye, who were said to have illegally taken possession of the Varick property, according to a statement from the Halftown-led faction of the Cayuga Nation.
The Cayuga Nation purchased the property in 2008 for use as executive and visitor lodging, they said.
“The gutted Varick house has notoriously been a site for out-of-town criminals to reside, despite the building’s unsafe conditions and without the authorization of the Cayuga Nation,” continued the release.
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The property was the site of a 2015 shooting, in which Redeye took a plea deal for his involvement.
“Marcus Redeye is not a Cayuga citizen nor is he a member of any Indian nation anywhere in the United States. Rather, he is a Canadian citizen who claims to be a member of a Canadian ‘first nation,'” said Halftown. “He is an out-of-towner who has plagued the area with his criminal activities, including most recently illegally selling marijuana off a front lawn on East Bayard Street in Seneca Falls and chasing a farmer off Cayuga Nation farmland while brandishing a weapon.”
The Cayuga Nation’s Building Code Officer inspected the Varick house and determined it to be uninhabitable, said the release. The property was then ordered to be demolished.
No federal money was used in the purchase or upkeep of the Varick property, they added.
Related: Cayuga Nation: Interlaken takes action, anti-Halftown supporters to march in Washington D.C. on Monday
Halftown says demolition of Seneca Falls property ‘long overdue’
The property on Briarwood Circle in Seneca Falls was also demolished on Wednesday, August 3.
The Nation, under Federal Representative Clint Halftown and the Nation Council’s leadership, purchased the property in 2010.
In 2013, the Nation leased the residential property to a Nation citizen who abandoned it eight months later, they claim in the release.
Over time, this property, too, became host to squatters, until conditions worsened to the point where even those squatters vacated the premises, according to the Nation. Black mold was reportedly present in the house.
“The demolition of this property is long overdue,” said Halftown on Wednesday. “Today’s action is important for the health and safety of our community at large, and I am glad to finally take care of this uninhabitable property once and for all.”
The house was confirmed to be vacant prior to demolition, with Nation Police assisting contractors to assure a “safe and swift demolition,” they said.
“This property has been abandoned for years,” said Superintendent of Nation Police Mark Lincoln. “Our mission is to maintain the health and safety of this community, and demolishing the abandoned, run-down Briarwood property was the right thing to do to better our neighborhoods.”
The purchase and upkeep of the Briarwood property did not involve the use of federal funds, said the Nation.
Halftown and crew are no strangers to demolishing Nation-owned properties they view as a thorn in their side.
In February 2020, a total of twelve properties were demolished by Cayuga Nation Police, including a schoolhouse and community center, under the direction of Halftown and Lincoln.
The situation led to a violent incident between Cayuga Nation Police and protestors. Halftown is the Nation’s federal representative, but the traditional Gayogo̱hó:nǫ’ (Cayuga Nation) faction claims they have the right to lead the roughly 500-member nation.
The leadership dispute continues into the present day.
Related: Protest lasts through weekend after demolition at Cayuga Nation properties in Seneca Falls