The Lac Courte Oreilles Tribe has asked for federal help to investigate a rash of fires that destroyed or damaged religious and spiritual sites last July.
Although the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s office for the Western District of Wisconsin would not comment because it is now an active investigation, a spokesman for the FBI confirms that they have been contacted by LCO officials asking for help. FBI spokesman Leonard Peace says the suspected arson cases are now under review for possible federal violations.
Paul DeMain’s temporary home was one of the buildings torched the weekend of July 14th. He’s says this intervention is good news, and it’s about time.
“So if local authorities can’t resolve it, I’m glad that the feds are being asked in but I think they should’ve been involved in the very beginning because of the religious hate crime nature of the crime that was committed here," he says. "The fact that there are lots of federally-owned buildings and land that are involved, and because in my estimation that could include some kind of conspiracy as well.”
In a joint news release from the LCO Police three days after the fires were reported, law enforcement said those fires were believed to be criminal in nature. No suspects have been arrested.
The six fires included two sweat lodges, an historic drum lodge, and a ceremonial circle at the Honor the Earth Pow-Wow grounds.
Phone calls over the past two days to LCO tribal officials were not returned.