Odinist Group Files Lawsuit Against NOR Parks Department
Group Claims They Were Discriminated
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -- The Odinist group has now formally filed a complaint with the North of the River Parks and Recreation Department and also began the process to file a lawsuit with the ACLU.
Two weeks ago, ABC23 reported on the story of a group of pagans practicing a harvest ritual at Standard Park, and the confrontation that occurred as a result.
ABC23’s Elaina Rusk sat down with both sides to find out what will happen next.
The night of Aug. 12, a group of Odinists gathered at Standard Park for a harvest ritual and were thought to be white supremacists by park-goers and neighbors, two of whom called 911.
[One of two 911 calls which led up to this incident]
Deputies responded after each complaint, but the Sheriff's Department couldn't comment on the situation because no report was filed, which means the deputies did not find any criminal activities taking place.
Don Parkins, an Odinist, said, “We're not breaking the law, because if we were, we'd be in jail." The Odinists' complaint is with the NOR Parks and Recreation Department. They say the ranger who responded to the second call told them they weren't allowed to practice their rituals in any NOR park.
After ABC23's first story aired, NOR officials told the station that they received that complaint, and conducted an internal investigation.
Roger Perez, NOR public relations director, said, “I believe there was a claim that the religion was being disrespected, and we take those types of claims seriously. But in our internal investigation, that wasn’t believed to have been said, was not said, by our deputy. And unfortunately, I think it just got blown out of proportion."
But the Odinists were not satisfied. They began the process to file a civil lawsuit with the ACLU which is considering whether to take the case.
But the Odinists said NOR could have easily resolved the issue.
Collin Bentley, an Odinist, told ABC23, “All it would have required for them is to simply acknowledge that their ranger was in the wrong, and for a formal reprimand."
"Again, we've done our investigation,” Perez told ABC23. “And as far as we're concerned, it’s an issue in the past, and we will definitely keep it in mind for the future, and make sure that there isn't even a question of this type of thing in the future."
Rusk received viewer phone calls and e-mails after the first story aired, claiming that no matter what happened in the park that night, the Odinist religion -- and this group -- is racist.
Other people told Rusk that the group should be allowed their freedom of speech.
The Odinists confirmed theirs is a Viking religion that only allows people of Germanic descent into their brotherhood, but they deny they are racist.
This incident actually occurred in August of 2009. What is possibly the most remarkable part of this unfortunate story, is just how distanced certain European-Americans are from their roots; occasionally bordering on a strange type of self-hatred. All one has to do is read some of the comments at the bottom of the above article link for proof of that. Roots that go back about forty thousand years. For example, the raven flag couldn’t be more foreign to them. What a shame it is upon this land that these people couldn’t at least be given the benefit of the doubt. It should be noted that this type of behavior is very unusual for park rangers as a general rule, especially the “MY park” part.
What if some of our brothers and sisters from Comunità Odinista were treated this way? What if people adhering to our own ancestral faith of Cernism were disrespected in this manner? The ancient flag of Langbard, when it is flown with pride, could be called “Nazi” by some of these paranoid people. One can only take so many steps back against the edge of the cliff. It should be also noted that there are many types of European-related heritage festivals, attended by many thousands of people, where there is not this problem.
The above link to one of the actual 911 calls, in which a person actually is heard giving a false report, which is illegal. In fact, the caller even asked for an officer by name, which seems to suggest that she was a frequent caller. Even beyond the American Constitution, these men were denied their basic rights and freedoms as human beings! As far as this group only allowing those of “Germanic descent” into their society. Well, of course! That is their “folk family.” Is that any different than an Irish club or Greek Orthodox Church? Those institutions are not public.
It appears that there is a perception that, because they are of Germanic descent, they should have fewer rights than others. At least that is the subconscious perception that exists now with most people. From personal experience, I know that there are some members of Odinist groups who are not specifically of northwest European descent. The main point being that the construct is based on this ancient Germanic paganism, originally from northern Europe; however, those ancient tribes migrated to many different places all over Europe.
All to often, people’s minds are wired to react by what their perception of something is, especially if it’s different to them, and dismiss any evidence to the contrary. The CCNA condemns the totally unacceptable treatment dished out to the three Odinists in that Bakersfield public park on August 12, 2009. They were not even seeking any attention, and yet were bullied by a number of citizens and park rangers. Even worse than the bullying, was the cultural humiliation. At a minimum, a letter of apology by the NOR Park officials would seem to be acceptable.