March 26, 2009

BB shootings = tip of iceberg

As more details come to light in BB gun shootings, solutions sought to end racial attacksOne of the teenagers accused of last week's drive-by attacks on Native Americans also is suspected in a March 8 BB gun shooting of a Native pedestrian.

While Rapid City police investigate the incidents, Native American advocates, the mother of one victim and a middle school principal search for solutions to the racial attacks.

"It's bad," North Middle School principal Jeanne Burckhard said. "Rapid City people just close their eyes."
And:An ordained minister, Plains Bull Martin said she wants the community and the courts to find a positive remedy that improves community relationships and helps the teenagers accused of the attacks. She hopes the court will sentence the teens to community service work that will give them a new "world view."

Opening eyes to discrimination is something the Society for the Advancement of Native American Issues, commonly called SANI-T, is committed to doing, according to director Laurette Pourier.

SANI-T plans to host a community meeting in April to address the recent attacks.

In initial conversations, SANI-T members have expressed their concern that the consequences for the teenagers must be meaningful and will involve their parents.

"Something to change their hearts and minds," Pourier said.

Candace Estes, a member of People Against Racism, said the incidents are not isolated or rare.

"It's like the tip of an iceberg," Estes said. Every once in a while it will push to the surface, but even when it's invisible, the rest of the iceberg is lurking below the surface, she said.
Comment:  In terms of confirming Rapid City's racist attitude, it would be "better" if two different boys had attacked Indians. If the same boy is guilty of repeated crimes, it doesn't demonstrate a wider pattern of prejudice. But that's a minor detail.

Community service probably would be a great penalty for those who committed the crimes. It would teach them that Indians are--surprise!--human beings just like everyone else. That Indians are thinking about eating, sleeping, and paying the rent, not whooping, scalping, and getting government handouts.

In the TV reality series 30 Days, one conservative Christian man spent 30 days with a Muslim couple and another spent 30 days with a gay man. Both men inevitably learned that the people they feared and hated were normal. A community-service sentence could produce similar results.

For more on the subject, see Highlights of the US Report to the UN on Racism.

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