Editorial: Racial tensions still exist in South Dakota

"The reasons he did it are unknown, but the fact remains: The Central High School student arrested Tuesday for lying to officials about seeing a man with a handgun specifically described the phantom gun-toter as an American Indian.

Specifically, the 15-year-old suspect, who is white, said the alleged gunman was an Indian male, about 5 feet 8 inches tall and wearing a white hooded sweatshirt and blue jeans.

And even though the report was fabricated, the reverberations in its aftermath show that Rapid City still has problems with race relations.

Readers have criticized the Rapid City Journal for reporting, on Page 1 of Wednesday’s newspaper, that some in the community were worried about increased racial tensions at Central because the gunman was said to be an Indian. Some said the newspaper has raised a racial issue that doesn’t exist by its “sensational” reporting.

We disagree and stand by our story. This teenager made a conscious decision to choose an Indian as his alleged gunman. Why not a fellow Caucasian for his mythical tale? How he came to make that choice, one that has upset many in the community, should concern us all.

Rapid City has a long history of racial issues involving Caucasians and Indians, and also African-Americans. True, we’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go to improve relations among races to the point that discrimination and racial tensions don’t exist."

Get the Story:
Aftermath of Central incident shows racial tensions still exist (The Rapid City Journal 4/22)

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