Siskiyou County sheriff celebrates with Hmong community members

YREKA, Calif. – Siskiyou County Sheriff Jon Lopey said he was “honored” to meet with leaders of the Hmong community in Northern California during a New Year celebration in Sacramento.

The sheriff said he attended the celebration to “foster ties with the Hmong community in the region and in Siskiyou County, where several thousand Hmong Americans have made their home.”

In the past, the sheriff’s office has been accused of discriminating against the Hmong community in Siskiyou County. A lawsuit filed last year alleged SCSO intimidated Hmong voters in the June and November elections. In addition, the sheriff’s office has been engaged in enforcing marijuana ordinances. Many of those enforcement actions have taken place on land owned by members of the Hmong community.

Sheriff Lopey denied any allegations of discrimination. “We treat all people with dignity and respect,” he said. “We were doing our jobs, our duty, our due diligence. I think the county has the right to enforce the existing ordinances.”

The details of the conflict between Siskiyou County and the Hmong community were detailed in an article in the Los Angeles Times.

On Thanksgiving Day, Sheriff Lopey attended the annual Hmong New Year Celebration at the invitation of Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly. The celebration honored the culture, language, and heritage of the Hmong people, an ethnic group who fled to refugee camps in Thailand during the Vietnam War. Many Hmong ended up in emigrating to Minnesota and California. According to the sheriff, they are a people with “their own language and culture but they do not have a country to call their own.”

The New Year’s celebration honoring the Hmong culture was an experience the sheriff called, “particularly interesting” and “a great honor.” Sheriff Lopey had particular praise for Mayor Ly, who he said represents “a classic American success story.”

Following the celebration, Sheriff Lopey said: “…we can always do a better job communicating, collaborating, and promoting our mutual concerns.” He added that he’s working to enhance communications and meaningful dialogue, especially how it relates to laws and ordinances, in Siskiyou County for members of the Hmong community.

The sheriff also announced there is a Hmong New Year celebration scheduled for December 16 in Siskiyou County. It will be held at the Montague Community Center from 9L00 a.m. until midnight. The event will feature Hmong music, culture, language, traditions, and food.

Sheriff Lopey said, “National, state, and local leaders have been invited to the event.  Mayor Ly has graciously agreed to help host the event and introduce local officials with key leaders from the Hmong community.  For further information about the event, contact Mr. Neil Thao at (952) 666-8855, or Nao Bee Lor, at (414) 334-5670.”

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