A still image from the video shows an October 23, 2019, incident in Rapid City, South Dakota, in which a police officer is seen using violent physical actions to break up a fight. The students were in middle school.

'Were you there?'

Native Sun News Today Correspondent

RAPID CITY – Reaction to the videos that surfaced last month in Rapid City, regarding two girls and an officer’s physical handling of the situation, has caused a heated response.

The videos were recorded near South Middle School and were of two Native American girls engaged in a physical fight, a Rapid City Police Officer, Richard Holt, was seen straddling one of the girls while reaching up to strike another and pull her down by her hair to restrain her and attempt to stop the fight. Several videos were produced on the day of the incident, each lasting less than 20 seconds.

These types of school yard videos are becoming a common occurrence and popular within the social media and other video streaming outlets. There is no victor in these videos as the parties involved are usually publicly humiliated and can damage a person’s ability to get a job or into college.

Since the videos in Rapid City [Note: Physical violence and excessive language] came to light, members of the Native American community have been divided on their reactions. Many calling this an incident of excessive use of force by an officer, and others saying the officer was justified in his actions he used to stop the fight between the middle schoolers.

IMPORTANT UPDATE****#TwoLakotaGirls Announcement**** This will be sent over the email list as well. The US Department...

Posted by Natalie Stites Means on Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Over the weekend, two community forums were held to address the concerns of those who want to support the student whom was struck upside the head by the officer. Chief Jegeris of the Rapid City Police Department has publicly stated this maneuver was necessary, referring to it as a technique used in marital arts. On the streets, this maneuver is commonly called slapping someone upside the head.

Natalie Stites Means, 43, organized a closed meeting on Friday evening, in which forty persons attended to voice their concerns in support of the young girl whom they feel was assaulted by the officer. This meeting was explicitly for those who wanted to show solidarity in support of the two students.

On Friday, Stites Means called for a meeting to address the “excessive force that was levied against two Native girls at South Middle School”. These videos have caused distress and concern amongst adults, former educators, and citizens in Rapid City. “We wanted to have this meeting to have a response to it,” she said.


Posted by Natalie Stites Means on Friday, October 25, 2019

From this meeting, she was hoping to have an action plan, and not just a discussion. This took place to form some type of united response to the videos and the actions of the officer. The idea was to be able to prevent this type of law enforcement response in the future.

“We had grandmothers there. Six children showed up who attend Rapid City area schools. We had people who were there who are generally concerned about the way these girls were treated by Officer Holt. That meeting was a space for those concerns, and not a space to uphold the cop, uphold the system and defend this dehumanizing treatment,” she said. “It’s something that we need to not make as a normal part of encounters between officers and youth here in Rapid City.”

The meeting was well-attended, visibly absent were persons who are paid advocates for youth. According to Stites Means, these persons are really closely allied, or have contracts and agreements with the City of Rapid City, Rapid City Police Department, or some entity of the County. She said these persons don’t really have a space to advocate for youth outside of those organizations.

“People who are paid to address these issues didn’t show up. There’s been a real silence or quietness from those folks,” she said. “I understand that because people’s jobs are at stake, when you speak out against the police here in Rapid City. There can be a retaliation.”

Stites Means said there can be reputational attacks, defamation behind closed doors and publicly of those who speak out against law enforcement in Rapid City. “They can’t really break out of their roles to advocate for these little girls who were brutalized by Officer Richard Holt.”

“I saw a 12-second video. It shows the cop straddling one girl, and he is trying to pin down the other girl. He strikes the girl. She is momentarily stunned, he grabs her hair and twists her head, pulls her around to force her to submit and pins her head to the ground,” she said. “The way that her head is twisted, it looks really shocking. Her head is actually twisted fully around. I thought is this girl’s neck going to be broken?”


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Read the rest of the story on Native Sun News Today: ‘Were you there?’

Contact Native Sun News Today Correspondent Richie Richards at richie4175@gmail.com

Copyright permission Native Sun News Today

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