Brandon Ecoffey: Rapid City continues with tradition of racism

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

Brandon Ecoffey discusses the case of Trace O’Connell, a non-Indian man accused of disorderly conduct in connection with an incident in which 57 young members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe were subjected to racial taunts:
The city that once played home to land snatchers and race baiting newspaper men in the mid to late 1800’s has continued on with its legacy of welcoming outright racism within its city limits into modern times with recent accusations of unnecessary use of police force, accompanied with the unsolved murders of numerous homeless Native people a few years back has only fueled the frustrations of Native people in the area who feel that the justice system has continually worked against them.

As parents and family members of the children involved have reacted expectedly by demanding that law enforcement do their job and hold this man accountable, the reaction from the general non-Native public has been to paint the event as a moment where the good ole boys, took their fun just a tad too far. Unfortunately law enforcement officials who have been quick to throw the book at petty Native offenders seem to have taken the same approach by only charging O’Connell with a disorderly conduct charge.

What we do know is that O’Connell had been occupying a luxury box along with 15 or so others located directly above where the children from American Horse School were sitting. When the hometown Rush scored a late goal, O’Connell celebrated the goal by swinging his beer “like he was roping.” The result was beer hitting the children and some in the suite. After a verbal exchange with one of the chaperones, someone allegedly heard O’Connell tell the kids to go back to the reservation.

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Brandon Ecoffey: 'Go Back to the Reservation!' Drunks, Racism and South Dakota (Indian Country Today 7/30)

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