“Justice for Vern” Rally in May 2012 cited for reason to deny December 19th rally to bring awareness about police violence against American Indians in Rapid City
RAPID CITY, SOUTH DAKOTA — The Rapid City police chief has denied a group of American Indians its request to hold a #NativeLivesMatter” march in Rapid City, South Dakota on Friday, December 19, 2014.
Cody Hall submitted an application on behalf of the group to the Rapid City Police Department for a special event permit on December 12, 2014 to hold a “police brutality awareness walk” that would wind through the streets of Rapid City’s downtown, originating one side of the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center and finishing on the opposite side of the civic center.
The timing of the event that coincides with the Lakota National Invitational (LNI) that brings in some 2,500 basketball players and their families and friends. The annual event is a huge event in Rapid City.
The letter cites the large crowd that LNI attracts as being the reason for denial.
Cody Hall, Chase Iron Eyes and James Swan were listed as addressees in the letter, dated December 16, 2914, from Rapid City Police Chief Karl Jegeris.
The police chief writes, in part, the following to the three:
“The City of Rapid City and the Rapid City Police Department have worked hard over the past 38 years to support this event and ensure the highest degree of public safety possible. It is for this reason that your event must be kept separate from the LNI. The Rapid City Police Department is committed to protecting your Constitutional Right to Assembly and Freedom of Speech and will make arrangements to accommodate your event apart from the LNI tournament.”
Hall, Iron Eyes and Swan were involved organizing in the May 2012 “Justice for Vern” march in Rapid City at the Rapid City Regional Hospital that attracted hundreds of demonstrators who protested the services of an American Indian elder treated at the hospital.
Jegeris’ denial letter contains what he terms the following safety reasons:
- The proposed activity is likely to substantially interrupt the safe and orderly movement of contiguous traffic. (Rapid City Municipal Code 12.20.030 (1 ))
- The proposed activity would require the diversion of so great a number of police officers of the city to properly police the activity and the areas contiguous there to as to prevent normal police protection to the city. (RCMC 12.20.030 (2))
- The proposed activity would conflict with other lawful activities taking place at the same time and location.
The organizing group feels that the timing for the rally is ideal because of the crowd of American Indians in the city for the invitational. In light of the national attention being given around to police violence against victims in Ferguson and Staten Island, the organizers felt it is time to give some attention to what Native people suffer by law enforcement.
“The mistreatment of Native men and women from the police department in Rapid City and throughout the state of South Dakota has not caught the attention regionally or nationally,” commented Cody Hall, one of the organizers of the protest told Native News Online after receiving the denial letter.
“Just recently a Native woman was shot and killed by a Mitchell police officer and the States Attorney General said it was a justified shooting. Last year the Pierre Police tasered a 8 year-old and that action was ruled justified. The Rapid City police Department still holds a grudge from being out numbered when the Justice for Vern March happened nearly three years ago. The Chief of Police calls upon us the organizers as unfit to organize a crowd and incite negativity. I say he can eat grass.”