Friday, February 29, 2008

Narragansett Smoke Shop Trial To Begin

Feather News

The trial for seven Narragansett Indians who scuffled with Rhode Island State police in a 2003 raid of their smoke shop will begin Friday.

Chief Sachem Matthew Thomas and six other Narragansetts were arrested July 14, 2003 when their Charleston, R.I., smoke shop was raided for not collecting state taxes on cigarrettes sold there. The charges range from disorderly conduct to assault.

A federal appeals court ruled the smoke shop was operating illegally because it had agreed to abide by state laws in return for recieving 1,800 acres of land in 1978. The Narragansetts began selling the cigarrettes after their bid for a casino business fell through.

Defense attorneys argued that the trial should not take place in southern Rhode Island because of a history of bad blood there dating to a 1675 massacre of Narragansett Indians.