National Roundup

North Dakota
Attorney: Profane Biden flag protected by First Amendment

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — An attorney for the City of Fargo says a homeowner has the right to fly a flag that uses profanity against President Joe Biden.

Displaying the flag is protected by the First Amendment, according to Assistant City Attorney Alissa Farol.

The flag is permitted because it contains a non-commercial message and doesn’t exceed the maximum size allowed by the city sign code, Farol said.

The homeowner is flying an upside-down American flag was on the same flagpole, which Farol says is also protected speech.

The U.S. Flag Code states that the American flag is not to be flown upside down “except as a signal of dire distress in instance of extreme danger to life or property.”

Farol weighed in after Fargo police received a complaint about the flags flying over a home in south Fargo, KVRR-TV  reported.

The homeowner declined to comment.

Native American Rights Fund lawyer appointed to Interior

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A former attorney at the Native American Rights Fund in Alaska and member of the Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma will become a top official in the U.S. Department of the Interior, the agency said in a statement on Wednesday.

Natalie Landreth will become deputy solicitor for land with the Interior Department after spending 17 years with the Native American Rights Fund, which represents tribes in treaty rights, public lands, aboriginal rights and environmental laws, the federal agency said in a statement.

Rep. Debra Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo tribe in New Mexico, was nominated by President Joe Biden to lead the Interior Department in December. If confirmed, Haaland would become the first Native American person to lead the agency.

“We look forward to working with the dedicated civil servants at the department to fulfill Interior’s missions, advance President Biden’s vision to honor our nation-to-nation relationship with Tribes and uphold the trust and treaty responsibilities to them,” said Jennifer Van der Heide, incoming chief of staff at the Interior Department, in a statement.

Landreth, who could not be reached for comment by the Anchorage Daily News on Wednesday, helped sue to reverse a policy that required a second person to sign all absentee ballots submitted in Alaska. The Alaska Supreme Court confirmed the policy reversal in October. Landreth had cited the hardships many Native Americans already faced by voting through the mail, including the fact that many that live on tribal lands that are remote and do not have specific addresses, but rather explanatory ones like “last house on the left.”

Landreth was also involved in lawsuits aimed at halting construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline in Canada and the U.S. Biden signed an executive order in January that revoked the permit granted by President Donald Trump to build the pipeline, which Native Americans groups have said could cause substantial water pollution on tribes and destroy sacred cultural sites.

“She has been intimately involved in trying to establish these unique designations for public lands that have great significance to Native Americans,” said Heather Kendall-Miller, a retired senior staff attorney with the Native American Rights Fund. “I think she will be a very strong leader and director in that capacity.”

New Boston top cop on leave over domestic abuse allegations

BOSTON (AP) — Boston’s new police commissioner was placed on leave late Wednesday after domestic violence allegations from more than 20 years ago surfaced days after he was elevated to the job.

Dennis White, who was sworn in as the city’s top cop on Monday, is under investigation after The Boston Globe raised questions about allegations found in court documents that White pushed and threatened to shoot his then wife, a fellow police officer.

A judge issued a restraining order against White in 1999, ordering him to stay away from wife and children and surrender his service weapon, the newspaper reported.

White’s wife said in her request for a restraining order that “we argue a lot and he is always trying to push me down and I am afraid that he may come inside and kill me because he is angry,” the Globe reported.

White denied the allegations at the time, according to the court papers. The police department referred questions to the city and it was not immediately clear whether White has an attorney to speak on his behalf.

White replaced William Gross, the city’s first Black police commissioner, who abruptly retired Friday after nearly 40 years on the police force.

Gross’ departure came amid talk that he was considering a bid to run for mayor, but Gross has said since the announcement that he has no plans to run for office.

Mayor Marty Walsh had been nominated to be President Joe Biden’s labor secretary, setting off a scramble for the open seat.

White, a 32-year veteran of the department, previously served as Gross’ chief of staff. He said at his swearing-in ceremony that his late mother had dreamed of him one day becoming the city’s top cop.

Walsh said at the the time that he was confident White would continue the Boston police department’s reputation “as a leader in community policing, and advance the department’s commitment to accountability and transparency.”

Walsh said in an emailed statement that White “was asked to quickly step into the role of Police Commissioner” and that neither he nor his staff were aware of these “disturbing issues.” Walsh said lawyers will conduct an investigation into the allegations.

“Upon learning of these serious allegations, I immediately acted, placing the Commissioner on administrative leave, while corporation counsel engages outside counsel to conduct a full and impartial investigation,” Walsh said.

Superintendent-in-Chief Gregory Long will serve as acting commissioner, the mayor said.