Law | National

Tribal members protest handling of major trial in Rapid City

Tribal members rally for justice as a non-Indian man goes on trial in connection with a race-related incident in Rapid City, South Dakota. Photo by Chase Iron Eyes / Facebook

Dozens of tribal members, including elders and youth, marched in Rapid City, South Dakota, on Wednesday in protest of the handling of a high-profile trial into the racist mistreatment of Indian children.

Prosecutors opened the case against Trace O’Connell, 41, who faces one count of disorderly conduct in connection with an incident at a Rapid City Rush hockey game in January in which 57 young members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe were subjected to racial taunts. Some had beer poured onto them from a luxury suite above their seats.

But tribal members believe city attorney Joel Landeen isn't representing the interests of the public or of the children. They marched to the office of new Mayor Steve Allender to demand justice for an incident that has drawn worldwide attention.

"The children of the ‪#‎AmericanHorse57‬ have marched to the mayor's office to demand an independent prosecutor," activist Chase Iron Eyes said on Facebook yesterday.

Another rally was held this morning to draw attention to the issue as the second day of the trial resumed. Some of the victimized children took the witness stand.

"Today they testified that they were spat upon and humiliated," Iron Eyes said. "[It] broke a lot of people's hearts to hear that."

The trial is taking place before a judge rather than a jury. The proceedings are being held at the Performing Arts Center to accommodate for a potentially large turnout. More than 100 people attended yesterday, the Associated Press reported.

O’Connell is the only person charged in the case. The maximum penalty for a conviction would be a $500 fine.

Get the Story:
Protests Part of Disorderly Conduct Trial Tied to Hockey Game (KELO 7/22)
O’Connell Trial Wraps Up Day One--Protest Follows (South Dakota Public Broadcasting 7/22)
Crowd marches to RC Mayor's Office after first day of O'Connell trial (KEVN 7/22)
Group marches and rallies prior to O'Connell trial (KEVN &/22)
Trial begins in Rush hockey student harassment case (KOTA 7/22)
Trace O'Connell trial begins (KEVN 7/22)

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