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ACLU Urges Investigation Into Pepper Spray Use on Haka Dancers

December 7, 2011, 1:39 PM HST (Updated December 7, 2011, 2:00 PM) · 0 Comments
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By Wendy Osher

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Utah is calling for an investigation into a recent incident in which a group of football fans performing a Polynesian Haka dance, were pepper sprayed by police.

The incident occurred on October 20th at a high school football game between Utah’s Roosevelt and Uintah High Schools.

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The Roosevelt Police Department conducted an investigation into the incident and ultimately absolved the police involved of wrongdoing.

According to the report, the officers claimed that they were compelled to use force because the fans who were performing the dance, refused the officers’ order to move from an exit.

Now, the state chapter of the ACLU is calling upon the Duchesne County Attorney to conduct an independent investigation into the claim of excessive force.

Joe Cohn, Interim Legal Director of the ACLU of Utah called the police report “troubling,” in a press release issued by the agency this week, and called the use of force both “unwarranted and excessive.”

The cultural ritual dance comes from the Maori culture in New Zealand, has been used for years in association with rugby matches, and has been adopted by modern sports teams, including Hawaii’s own UH Warrior football team.

***To view the video from the October 20, 2011 incident visit the following You Tube direct link at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=byIdYkfm0w4

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