Man Charged with “Disorderly Conduct” for Hockey Game Hate Crime

hockey game

On January 24th, Native American students and staff of American Horse School were harassed at a Rapid City hockey game by a group of about 15 white men. The students, ages 9 to 13, were part of AHS’s 21st Century Club and were at the hockey game as a reward for their academic achievements. They left the game after a group of white men began yelling “Go back to the Rez!” along with racial slurs, the men even sprayed beer on them.

Only one man, Trace O’Connell, has been charged with disorderly conduct. The charge is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine if he is convicted.

Many are angered by this decision, feeling the punishment is not nearly as severe as it should be. National Coalition Against Racism in Sports and Media has called the actions of these men “racist and criminal behavior” and stated that this incident “should be considered a hate crime.”

“They poured beer on children. They yelled racial slurs. I don’t know how that is not a hate crime,” said American Horse School Superintendent Gloria Coats-Kitsopoulos.

“Some of our kids — they’ve had nightmares, they cry,” stated Angie Sam, whose 13-year old daughter was one of the victims at the hockey game. “[T]hey were being rewarded for good behavior, and these drunk, white men ruined that for them.” Her interview can be heard in the NPR report by Charles Michael Ray.

What these men did to the students and staff of AHS was cruel and unwarrented, and it should not be tolerated.  Sadly, this unfortunate incident reflects the grave problem of racism that has plagued Rapid City for years. An article by Danielle Miller, which can be found at Chase Iron Eyes’ webpage Last Real Indians, states,

“The racism and biases are not new in South Dakota, where you can find sacred Lakota objects hung next to KKK outfits in the museum. The very landmarks such as Mount Rushmore constructed by a white supremacist are a reminder of the theft of the Black Hills, which was supposed to fall under the protections of the Sioux in the Fort Laramie.”

It is important to make our voices heard and to expose the racial issues Native Americans face everyday. Unless these issues are discussed, incidents such as the attack on the AHS students and staff are bound to repeat themselves.


8 thoughts on “Man Charged with “Disorderly Conduct” for Hockey Game Hate Crime”

  1. Just a slap on the wrist. If something BIG is not done (Hate Crime it is), this will continue to happen again and again……it has started long ago. And we all know, if it were a Native who did what these Wacisus did, they’d be in jail soon after with it on front page of the Rapid City Journal the next day.

  2. This is not right….if an Native American Indian did this they would be in jail and his fine would be a lot and he would get charged dearly and not only that the police would probably be beating them up for it….Something needs to be done dont let this go…FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT us Native american Indians deserve some respect….

  3. Ignorance leads to hatred, the mentality of us and them, adds to the trouble. Mitakuya Oyasin – We are all related. Let’s act like it people!! Children are the same everywhere, innocent, optimistic, without hatred and bigotry. Let’s keep them that way by being a living example of respect, and tolerance.

  4. We are survivers of a Holocaust that goes unpunished because of the justice departments corruption they will not punish them self’s. today our Nation’s have been stolen by u.s.dictator’s who are protected and payed millions to silently Genocide our Nation and our peoples right to self government and much much more.

  5. The damage caused by this frighteningly horrific and ignorant attack is potentially life long for THE CHILDREN AND THE LAKOTA COMMUNITY. The charge for the ONE offender is insulting to our judicial CONNITTMENT. Shame on those people who cared so little for the effects of the attacks on these innocent children that they gave barely any charge at all. This is the most IGNORANT DISPLAY OF HATE AND RACISM recently reported. iT MATTERS IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THESE YOUNG MINDS ENOUGH TO BE CONSIDERED A TRUE CRIME WITH LASTING CONSIQUENCES AND LESSONS AGAINST LIKE BEHAVIOR IN THE FUTURE. Besides the ignorance of this behavior, the Lakota tribe has faced an UNTHINKABLE lack of respect in general. It is time AGAIN to revisit the shame America STILL MUST RESOLVE for crimes against Native Americans. Lakota people remain proud and protective of their heritage and place in their nation. I am proud of them even more than my own beloved tribe, the Chickasaws who thought agreement and assimilation to the white ways would be safer for our people. That turned out to be wrong. We are now trying to recapture what we gave up. The Lakotas held TIGHT to their heritage, their ways and their spirituality. It is TIME NOW FOR BETTER TREATMENT OF OUR NATIONS FIRST CITIZENS. SOUTH DAKOTA AND AMERICA, STEP UP….. FINANCE SCHOOLS, GIVE THE LAKOTAS ALL YOU HAVE TAKEN, INCLUDING THE RESPECT THE EURO-AMERICANS CONTINUE TO DENY THEM. Adjust the charges to meet the damage. Help these students, give therapy to avoid the urge to lash out in violence, ADMIT the attrocity of the behavior of each of these adults, demand we ALL support the end of RACISM and respect the ways of the Native Americans. DECENT AMERICANS DEMAND IT. An amazing attorney assisting the Lakota in the Allen area as I write this, sees the need for a self sustaining, positive, culturally inclusive school. S. Dakota leadership…… HELP HER MAKE THIS HAPPEN because it’s THE RIGHT THING TO DO…..RIGHT NOW. Support Thunder Valley Community Development Corp. supporting self sustaining, culturally inclusive, hands on, empowering self and community health with responsibility and participation, not hand out……. INDEPENDENCE.

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