Rapid City’s Stand Strong Against Racism rally held on Tuesday, February 10 was a powerful display of Native unity against racism. A group of 300 raised their grievances by singing, drumming and speaking outside the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. As hockey fans lined up for a Rush home game, protesters respectfully reminded them of the major injustice that had ensued within the center just weeks before.
For those unfamiliar with the story–a group of Rush onlookers in VIP seating targeted 57 Native children from the American Horse school with a stream of blatant racism on January 24. Offenses ranged from pouring beer on the kids’ heads to ordering them to, “Go back to the rez.” Read our original post here.
We continued our coverage of events with this post regarding the Rapid City Journal‘s mishandling of the story. Rather than holding the adult perpetrators accountable, the Journal questioned the youth’s role in provoking such atrocities. The publication has since issued an apology in response to heavy public criticism.
Now, we would like to highlight the inspiring resilience of Rapid City Natives standing up for righteousness as their children are violated.
The rally followed Monday evening’s public forum hosted by Lakota pastor Larry Salway at He Sapa New Hope Church. Discussion between citizens, Mayor Sam Kooiker, and Police Chief Karl Jegeris bridged feelings surrounding the event between the public and community authority figures.
“They keep telling us to be patient. Why is it always us being patient when a white man does something?” commented a Lakota man at the meeting.
The Stand Strong Against Racism rally attracted protesters not only dedicated to bringing immediate justice to the children, but to liberating Rapid City from deeply rooted, systemic racism against Natives. The tone of the event was one of empowerment rather than undirected rage and can be viewed through the attached videos originally posted on Chase Iron Eyes’ official Facebook page. There exists a clear vision of prosperity that drives Rapid City Natives in their efforts to provoke transparency and discussion on topics of blatant racism.
Speakers at the rally ranged from U.S. Hockey Hall of Famer Clyde Bellecourt of the White Earth Ojibwe to Olympic gold medalist Henry Boucha of the Chippewa Ojibwa. Lakota People’s Law Project attorney and leader of Last Real Indians, Chase Iron Eyes, was the last to speak to the crowd that night.
“We’re not gonna be patient. We can’t lay down anymore; we’re not gonna lay down. We can’t just take this,” he states in the clip below.
There is no justification for the behavior exhibited within the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center on January 24, and the driving forces behind such instances of injustice must be tackled. The children affected not only deserve to see their abusers face due punishment, but watch the social boundaries, which allowed them to walk free for so long, be eventually dissolved. We commend Rapid City Natives for holding their ground and demanding fair dealing to their children.
Since last week’s demonstration, the men behind the incident have been charged with disorderly conduct–a punishment many have deemed insufficient considering the severity of the crime. Keep an eye on our page for updates on this new development.