Northern Arapaho Tribe calls shooting of men a hate crime

James "Sonny" Goggles, a member of the Northern Arapaho Tribe, remains in serious condition after being shot in the head in Riverton, Wyoming, on July 18, 2015. His family is raising funds to aid his recovery. Photo from Give Forward

The Northern Arapaho Tribe of Wyoming is calling on the Obama administration to launch a hate crimes investigation into the shooting of two of its members in a reservation border town.

Stallone Trosper, 29, was shot once in the head as he slept in a detoxification center in Riverton. He was pronounced dead on the scene on Saturday afternoon.

A second tribal member, James “Sonny” Goggles, Jr., also was shot once in the head. He remains in serious condition in a hospital in Casper after undergoing emergency surgery to remove bullet fragments from his skill.

"He was responding to our voices," his sister, Rose Goggles, said on Tuesday. "I was holding his hand and reassuring him we we're here for him."

The alleged assailant has been identified as 32-year-old Roy Clyde, a city parks employee. Authorities say he admitted he went into Riverton on Saturday with the intent of killing homeless people.

Booking photo of Roy Clyde from Fremont County Sheriff's Office

But even though Clyde is non-Indian and the victims are Native Americans, authorities are not treating the incident as racially-motivated. He has been charged with one count of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder and the tribe is upset with the lack of hate crimes charges in the case.

“Stallone Trosper and Sonny Goggles are part of our community, they are members of our tribe, they are human beings, and they matter to us,” council member Norman Willow said on Tuesday. “We are sickened by what has happened here.”

Richard Brannan, another council representative, said tribal members have long been the targets of violence in Riverton. The city lies within the original boundaries of the Wind River Reservation but state and local authorities claim it is no longer considered Indian Country.

"I’ve lived here my whole life, and the anti-Indian sentiment seems to be getting worse," Brannan said.

Tribal leaders plan to travel to Washington, D.C., to ask the Department of Justice to investigate the crime. They note that race-related shootings, including the massacre of nine people at an African-American church in South Carolina, have been an issue across the nation.

The Center of Hope in Riverton, Wyoming. Image from Google Maps

“The trend of violence against Indian people in and around Riverton is alarming,” Chairman Dean Goggles said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families. It’s our responsibility as tribal leaders to do everything we can to try and stop these crimes of hate.”

The shooting occurred at the Center of Hope, a detoxification center on West Adams Avenue in Riverton. The facility is not from a city park where tribal members say Native Americans -- some of them homeless -- are known to gather.

"I worked at the center for four years," Diane Yellowplume said on Facebook. "Everyone worked well together but i always felt that the back door should have always been locked. Anyone could walk right in and this guy proved it."

"These two men were not homeless they had homes and families, added Yellowplume, who said she knows Goggles. "There only problem was the alcohol. The center serves a great purpose because many times these people cant make it home."

About 11,000 people live in Riverton, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Of those, about 10.4 percent are American Indian or Alaska Native.

Many are members of the Northern Arapaho Tribe or the Eastern Shoshone Tribe. The two tribes are based on the Wind River Reservation and both contend Riverton remains a part of their land base.

“Community leaders need to be honest about what is happening here. The tribe has tried to reach out and address some of these matters through intergovernmental agreements we presented to Riverton a few years ago," Northern Arapaho Co-Chairman Ron McElroy said. "Last year we hosted the ‘Mending Fences’ symposium, but we need more cooperation from local and federal government to make it clear that these attitudes and this sort of hate is not acceptable.”

Additional Coverage:
Killing prompts Wyoming tribe to seek hate crime prosecution (AP 7/22)
Homeless Advocates Aid the Homeless After Deadly Shooting (KCWY 7/22)
Arapaho Tribe calls for weekend shootings to be prosecuted as Federal Hate Crimes (County 10 7/21)
‘He went hunting': Man accused of targeting the homeless in detox center shooting (The Washington Post 7/21)
Missouri Teens said trip to work at Center of Hope this week “Was a Plan from God” (County 10 7/21)

Related Stories
Two men from Northern Arapaho Tribe shot while sleeping (7/21)

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