Democratic Congressional candidate Raul Ruiz (pictured above far left)
was arrested for his role in a violent protest on Thanksgiving Day, 1997 that took place at the Plymouth Rock monument to the 1620 landing of the Pilgrims in Massachusetts just south of Boston. The event, planned by the United American Indians of New England
, was touted as an expression of opposition to American government policies that have repressed Native Americans. Ruiz was a member of this group from 1996 to 2002, and for a time served as its co-chairman.
In keeping with Massachusetts Democratic party tradition, Mr. Ruiz has produced no credible evidence that he has Native American heritage.
According to a later report of the violent 1997 protest in a Quincy, Massachusetts newspaper, Mr. Ruiz was dressed in an Aztec costume, and shouted to his fellow protesters that it was time to "break the rock."
Ruiz is the Democratic candidate challenging Republican incumbent Mary Bono Mack, who currently represents California's 36th Congressional District in the House of Representatives.
Ruiz admitted to a local Palm Springs television station that he was arrested at the 1997 protest, but claimed that he was merely trying to shield "an elder" from a police beating. As Ruiz tells it, he was exonerated because the charges against him were later dismissed.
But the Palm Springs Desert Sun reports the story more fully:
Ruiz, a Harvard medical student at the time, was one of 25 people arrested at the 1997 National Day of Mourning, an event at Plymouth Rock where people use the federal holiday as a way to protest the treatment of American Indians since the pilgrims arrived.
Ruiz pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor offenses of disorderly conduct and tumultuous behavior. The charges were later dropped as part of a deal that also dismissed claims of police brutality, according to press reports of the events. . .
The 1997 protest during which Ruiz was arrested made nationwide headlines, according to the Boston Herald.
Ruiz, who is not an American Indian himself, told The Desert Sun he was trying to protect an older protester from police. “We all went into the protest assuming it would be peaceful,” Ruiz said by email.
“At some point, police began hitting people with clubs. … Another man and I shielded Sam (Sapiel, an elder) to prevent him from being hit. The police hit us with clubs, arrested us, and then pepper-sprayed us even though we weren’t resisting.”
Press reports show Ruiz joined the rallies between 1996 and 2002 and once served as co-chairman for the organizer, United American Indians of New England.
In 2002, a story in the Quincy, Mass., Patriot Ledger noted that Ruiz, dressed in Aztec warrior colors, symbolically told the crowd: “Who’s going to break the rock? Break it!”
“(Thanksgiving) is the glorification of an incident in history which has a direct link to the ... poverty and oppression which (Latinos and American Indians) experience today,” Ruiz told The Harvard Crimson in 1998. . .
The 1997 clash between protesters and police happened after officers tried to prohibit the rally from moving down certain off-limit streets.
Those involved complained about police brutality. Police officers argued the protesters instigated the violence.
A deal was reached in October 1998 between the town of Plymouth Rock and the United American Indians of New England that allowed all criminal charges and complaints against police to be dropped, according to the Boston Herald.
The United American Indians of New England continues to be involved in left wing protests. A key point in their platform is an effort to free Leonard Peltier, who was convicted in 1977 of murdering two FBI agents.
Ruiz subsequently moved from Massachusetts to California, where he now works as an emergency room physician.