Utah citizens and authorities are questioning the harsh tactics used last week in a federal raid last week in Blanding, Utah, reports the Los Angeles Times. They were roused at dawn, then Interior Secretary Ken Salazar flew in to announce the indictments of 23 citizens in what he called the biggest bust ever of thieves who take ancient Native American artifacts from public lands, often from sacred burial sites. The next day, one of the suspects, Dr. James Redd, killed himself.
Local authorities called the raids overkill. The county sheriff, whose brother was among those charged, launched his own investigation into how suspects were treated. Blanding has about 3,000 residents, and on Tuesday nearly 1,000 people gathered in a Mormon community center to mourn the doctor as anger at the federal government continued to grow. Armed guards were spotted outside the Bureau of Land Management office in nearby Monticello. “Eighteen vehicles surrounded the Redds’ house,” San Juan County Supervisor Bruce Adams said in an interview. “Do we do that with child molesters? With murderers?”