Law | National

Oglala Sioux Tribe seeks federal probe into attack on children

Cartoon by Ricardo Cate / Without Reservations

Oglala Sioux Tribe President John Yellow Bird Steele is asking the Department of Justice to open a civil rights probe into an attack on 57 Indian children in Rapid City, South Dakota.

The students from the American Horse School were subjected to racial slurs and had beer poured on them during a January 24 Rapid City Rush hockey game at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. Authorities charged Trace O'Connell, 41, with one count of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor crime that would carry carry just a 30-day jail sentence and a $500 fine.

"The Rapid City Civic Center is a public accommodation and all Americans have a right to be free from discrimination in the use and enjoyment of such facilities," Steele wrote in the letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and to President Barack Obama, the Associated Press reported. "Our children, parents and teachers were denied their Civil Rights to use and enjoy the public accommodations during a school field trip."

According to an affidavit from a Rapid City detective, O'Connell admitted he had been drinking beer at the game and admitted he spilled some beer. He also admitted talking to an "adult male" who was with the children -- that would appear to be Justin Poor Bear, a tribal member who has spoken out repeatedly about the incident.

O'Connell's attorney, however, said his client denied spilling beer on the children.

Get the Story:
Pine Ridge tribal president asks for US civil rights probe into reported harassment at game (AP 2/19)
American Horse School reacts to charge (KEVN 2/19)
Court docs released and details emerge from Rush game incident (KEVN 2/19)

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