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Published On: Thu, Oct 25th, 2012

Julius Elwood said Navajo Lawmakers are trampling on his ‘Right to Free Speech’

Oct. 25 | By: Staff Writer

WINDOW ROCK – According to Navajo Nation Employee, Julius Elwood who works with the Navajo Nation Occupational Safety Health Administration (NNOSHA) said a Navajo lawmaker threaten him with what he calls a ‘letter of intimidation’.

According to Elwood in a telephone interview with Post, “I made a few comments on my facebook wall, which Council Delegate Leonard Tsosie and Lorenzo Curley do not like. So the next thing they did was write this memo and Delegate Tsosie personally delivers it to me.” Elwood, said this letter was unnecessary and tramples on his Rights to free speech.

Elwood said, Council Delegate Leonard Tsosie barged into his office and said “Julius, Julius, Julius, are you on Facebook again? That’s what is getting you in trouble.” Elwood also said Mr. Tsosie was rude and demanded to speak with Patrick Sandoval, who no longer works with the department. “I was a little confused and wondered what he meant, but did inform him that Mr. Sandoval had resigned and was no longer here. He then asked who was delegated and I said I was. He seemed irritated and then said, I have to get back to Council he then left just as hastily as he came in.”he said.

The Post sent an email to Lorenzo Curley and the Navajo Speakers office for comment, we have not received a response.

The incident took place on Oct. 18. Read Julius Elwood Letter of what took in his own words.

I finally had a chance to read his memo and I immediately felt like my rights had been violated. At first, I thought that perhaps he was visiting us informally to chat about something because before this, we had a good relationship and often talked about politics or other issues here on the Nation. It wasn’t until he left and I had a chance to read his memo that, in fact, he was here for a very different reason. That reason, I felt immediately, was to intimidate me, threaten me and to fill me with fear, if I ever commented negatively about them (The Council) in Social Media again.

As a leader who works for the Navajo people, the most basic attribute that you need is a thick skin and you have to expect some criticism from your constituents who may be on the opposite side of an issue. You also have to try to reasonably consider their side of the argument in order to make an informed decision. I think in this case there was more at stake here, which Council Delegate Curley and Tsosie felt like needed to be addressed immediately. This was the first time constituents could post comments in real time, in response to the debate happening in the Council. This exhibition of transparency was just too frightening for some Delegates and as witnessed by many, was immediately attacked by Delegate Katherine Benally and Delegate Tsosie, which prompted my first post, reminding Leonard Tsosie of the “Freedom of Speech.” The next day, on October 18, 2012, as we were listening to the Council Meeting on Ustream, I heard several Delegates grilling and getting very vicious and personal towards Mr. Tom Platero, as he was being confirmed by the Council, as Legislative Services Director. I commented that:

Listening to the Navajo Nation Council talking smack about Tom Platero, whom is seeking confirmation for the appointment as the Director of Legislative Services. If you want to learn how petty they can be I encourage you to listen.

I believe these two comments were what prompted Delegate Curley to write this memo during the debate on Mr. Platero’s confirmation, then for Delegate Tsosie to personally break all due process policies and barge into the NOSHA office to guarantee that I got the message from his Syndicate of Council members whom do not appreciate any constituent or employee to freely express their opinions or comments that may not particularly be in support of their views. Especially, in real time as the debate happens. God forbid, someone might actually make a great point or debunk an argument being made by a Council Delegate.

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Julius Elwood said Navajo Lawmakers are trampling on his ‘Right to Free Speech’