December 20, 2014

#NativeLivesMatter in Rapid City

The #BlackLivesMatter and #ICantBreathe protests have triggered similar protests in Indian country. For instance:

Police Protest Rally Aimed At Racial Awareness

By Kevin WosterA nationwide protest over police treatment of minorities came to Rapid City today, focusing on alleged racism toward Native Americans and a string of Native American deaths along Rapid Creek.

Demonstrators came from across South Dakota and beyond to protest what they believe is unjust treatment of Native Americans by Rapid City police.

They gathered in Memorial Park adjacent to the Lakota Nation Invitational sports and cultural event at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. Demonstrators called out the names of Native Americans found dead along Rapid Creek over more than 15 years, arguing that many of the deaths weren't solved because non-Indian investigators didn't care.

"We're tired of our people being found dead in this creek. No investigations. They're unsolved," Julee Richards of Pine Ridge said.

Police say the string of deaths, including one last week, along the creek were thoroughly investigated. Some appeared to be drownings or other natural causes. In some instances alcohol was involved. But some of the deaths remain a mystery.
Anti-police brutality rally peaceful

By Andrea J. CookShouts of "Native lives matter" and "Hands up don't shoot" echoed along two of Rapid City's busiest streets Friday as nearly 100 men, women and children gathered to call attention to police brutality and the loss of Native American lives along Rapid Creek.

Rapid City Police officers stood discretely in the background while American Indian Movement Grassroots leaders welcomed the gathering that included both Native Americans and non-Natives who braved overcast skies and a sudden cold snap to stand with people around the nation to oppose police brutality

"Discrimination is alive here," Bill Means of Porcupine told the crowd before the group set out for a walk down Fifth Street and along Omaha Street. As participants walked, the names of 25 individuals who died along Rapid Creek were read.

Walkers stopped at the corner of Fifth and Omaha streets to raise their posters and show solidarity before they lined up along Omaha Street raising their hands and shouting "Hands up don't shoot" and "Native lives matter."
Writer Gyasi Ross offers his perspective:

We Are All to Blame for Michael Brown and Eric Garner Not Getting Justice

By Gyasi RossThis shit is not new. Ask Emmett Till. Ask James Byrd Jr. Ask Dred Scott. Ask the Natives massacred at Sand Creek.

But we're still in the same place we've been in for the past 50 years: merely diagnosing the problem. As we used to say in the '80s, "No shit, Sherlock." We're pointing at the racism, pointing at all these agencies and municipalities that we cannot do anything about. The one place where we're not pointing? We're not pointing at ourselves. We let this happen. Black folks. White liberals. Pigeon-toed Natives. Conservatives. All of us. We're all complicit.
Ross's conclusion:Racism is real, and black men get killed in tragically disparate numbers. Absolutely. It's been that way since the first interloper landed on this continent, and now many of us brown- and black-skinned people have even been infected with that racism disease against each other. That's deep. So it's going to take some time to remove that racism sickness out of America's DNA. That's long-term. In the short term we've got a responsibility to use the tools that exist right now. I admit that I have no clue whether the system will actually work; it might be as much of a joke as I was raised to believe it is. But I also cannot honestly say that these tools don't work until we actually try to try them. Failing to register to vote is not playing the game. Thirty-percent voter turnout is not playing the game. Finding creative ways to get out of serving on juries is not playing the game. You don't want to participate in the American justice system? I get it. Yet non-participation has consequences. I mean, there's absolutely a place for marching, sounding off on social media and being outraged and indignant. We should be; that's all positive stuff. Yet we have to use the tools that we have currently; otherwise we'll keep "outsmarting" justice.Comment:  For more on police brutality, see Police Shoot Natives Too and Historical Antecedents of Police Brutality.

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