RAPID CITY — Reacting to public pressure, including from the Native American Journalist Association, the Rapid City Journal regrets its “Did Native kids stand for National Anthem?” headline it ran last Saturday in its newspaper edition.
The headline set the stage for a story calling into question why 57 American Indian students from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation were subjected to racist hockey fans who sprayed beer on them and taunted the Native youth with racist statements, such as “go back to the reservation.”
On Saturday night, this publication ran a story entitled: “Blaming the Victims: Witness Says Pine Ridge Reservation Students Did Not Stand Up for National Anthem.”
In an editorial run on Monday, February 2, 2015, the Rapid City Journal’s Executive Editor Bart Pfakuch writes:
“A justifiable anger has resulted from a headline that appeared in the Rapid City Journal on Saturday, Jan. 31. It is now abundantly clear that the headline about the National Anthem is troubling to this community and our readers.
To some, the headline signified that there was a justification for the harassment of Native American students at the Rush hockey game on Saturday, Jan 24. This was not our intent. There is no justification for such racist behavior. There can never be any justification for the appalling way those students and their chaperones were treated at the game.
Questions also have been raised about the use of an anonymous source in the article. On the day the article was written, the business owner who rents the suite where the harassment took place — who was neither present nor involved — received a death threat. Publishing the name of the other source could have put that person and his family, who also reportedly had nothing to do with the harassment, in harm’s way. If law enforcement officials release the names of those responsible, we will be publish that information.
The Rapid City Journal deeply regrets the pain this headline has caused to our community and pledges to continue our efforts to fight racism and other social ills.”