Cherokee Tribal Council passes anti-harassment law to protect victims of violent threats

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TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (KFOR) – The Council of the Cherokee Nation passed an anti-harassment law that gives civil protections to Cherokee citizens who are victims of credible, unlawful violent threats.

The Tribal Council passed the new law on Monday with a 16-1 vote. Wes Nofire, District 3, was the only dissenting vote.

Individuals who are victims of violent threats are protected under the new law regardless if they were in a relationship with or have a connection to the person making the threat, according to Cherokee Nation officials.

“This law, which is in line with state anti-harassment laws, provides protection against serious threats of violence by giving Cherokee citizens an opportunity to seek routine protection from the tribal courts when they need it,” said Attorney General Sara Hill. “Importantly, this includes Cherokee citizens who face credible threats of violence at the hands of someone with whom they have had no previous relationship.”

The law empowers Cherokee Nation judges to grant a temporary anti-harassment protection order to a petitioner if there is reasonable proof that unlawful harassment occurred and that “great or irreparable harm” will occur if a protection order is not issued.

“This revision of Cherokee Nation law is an important tool in protecting victims of domestic violence and other forms of dangerous harassment,” said Cherokee Nation Marshal Shannon Buhl. “Through the judicial process, it protects victims and provides carefully measured and temporary restrictions on those who would threaten violence. As law enforcement officers, we are always tasked with upholding the Constitutional rights of individuals and protecting victims when we respond to calls for assistance. I applaud Chief Hoskin and Council members for enacting these important protections.”

The Tribal Council passed a law in 2005 that protected domestic violence victims, but did not extend protections to victims of serious harassment at the hands of strangers.

“It is absolutely crucial that we have laws in place to keep our Cherokee citizens safe,” said Deputy Speaker of the Council Victoria Vazquez. “When someone’s life is threatened, even if it’s at the hands of a stranger, we cannot turn away and ignore the seriousness of that harassment. I’m happy to see a law put into place that will allow the courts to fairly examine the evidence of the situation and act appropriately. I have no doubt that this law will save lives in our Cherokee communities.”

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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