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King refuses to explain vote against bill combating rape on tribal grounds
Protesters gathered outside U.S. Rep. Steve King‘s Sioux City office Friday demanding he explain his opposition to a bill that passed earlier this year that bolstered Native American law enforcement power to investigate rape and other crimes committed on tribal lands. But King refused, telling KCAU-TV that the protesters, many of whom were Native Americans, “don’t even know what law they’re talking about.”
In July, King was one of only 92 Republicans, and the lone member of Iowa’s delegation, to vote against the Tribal Law and Order Act. A 2007 study by Amnesty International found that one in three Native American women will be raped at some point in their lives, a rate that is more than double that for non-native women. More than 86 percent of rapes against Native American women are carried out by non-native men, most of them white, according to the Justice Department. The Law and Order Act gave ave tribal police more authority in seeking prosecution of non-natives who commit crimes on tribal lands and cleared up problems with jurisdiction.
King refused comment about his vote at the time, and his office did not respond to several requests for comment Friday.
“This is a very big issue. There are many untold stories out there. There are many women, there are many people in general, many Native American people that have been able to tell their story,” said Deena Baker, a Native American.
“Mr. King has put us in harm’s way. As women, we are very much in distress, and feel very unsafe at this time in Fifth District under the leadership of Mr. Steve King,” said Native American Susan Barta.
King claimed at a political rally later that he has never been contacted about the bill, calling the protest a political stunt. His Democratic opponent, Matt Campbell, participated in the protest, later saying it was “appalling that Steve King refuses to give any rationale for his decision, particularly when the rest of the Iowa Congressional delegation including Tom Latham voted for the measure.”
President Barack Obama signed the Tribal Law and Order Act shortly after its passage.