AUGUST 28, 2000 Oglala Lakota activist and actor Russell Means was fined $100 for failing to obey a lawful order and had a charge of obstructing a police officer dropped last week in Sheridan County Court in Nebraska. Means appeared in court on Thursday, August 24, hoping to postpone a scheduled August 30 trial date. Instead, he accepted the no contest plea and dismissal. Judge Charles Plantz fined Means $100 because he said Means was performing an act of civil disobedience. Racial tensions were heightened last year when activists throughout Indian Country joined with residents of the Pine Ridge reservation to protest police inaction over the deaths of several Lakota men in the Nebraska-South Dakota region surrounding the South Dakota reservation. Members of an Oglala group called Camp Justice have repeatedly called for an investigation into the deaths. Both the group and members of the American Indian Movement allege that Sheridan County law enforcement have ignored the deaths. On July 3, a protest march intended to be peaceful turned violent when marchers clashed with police officers in riot gear who refused to let the group enter Whiteclay. Along with Tom Poor Bear, Webster Poor Bear, Ben Black Elk, John Yellow Bird Steele, Frank LaMere, Allen Shepherd, Gary Moore, and Vaughn Lodge, Means crossed a police line, resulting in their arrests. Means appeared in court alone on Thursday. LaMere, Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, told Indianz.Com he was expected to appear in court next week. The small town of White Clay has been a focal point for protests due to its proximity to the Pine Ridge Reservation. The 22-member town has four liquor establishments which cater, and some say, exploit, many residents from Pine Ridge, where unemployment hovers around 75 to 80 percent and alcoholism is a problem. Means and others also claim White Clay is still Indian Country under the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, making sale of liquor there illegal. The US Commission on Civil Rights visited White Clay last year as part of its fact-finding mission. Their report issued in March of this year reinforced what many Lakota feel to be true: Indian residents are subject to a different set of principles in the justice system. Relevant Links:
Camp Justice - www.aics.org/justice/camp.html
Russell Means - www.russellmeans.com Related Stories:
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