Nearly 60 Kids Of Color Get A Rude Awakening Regarding Racism

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Some folks think we live in a post-racial world where the color of your skin does not affect how one interacts with society or how society affects them.

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Those folks have never witnessed or experienced an eye opening and heartbreaking spectacle such as the one lived through by 57 9-13 year old Native American kids at a Rapid City Rush hockey game at the Rushmore Civic Center Plaza on January 24, 2015 in Rapid City, SD. Trace O’Connell, pictured above, was witnessed as the ringleader of a group of 15-20 people who sprayed beer and hurled racial slurs from a VIP suite at a group of elementary school students from The American Horse School on the Oglala Reservation.

Now do me a favor, take race out of the equation and break the story down to the basic facts: In a very public place, a group of grown folks cursed and sprayed beer on a bunch of kids. In this day and age of folks being discouraged from kicking the ass of the perpetrator of such behavior, jail time and a fine one can feel seem completely justified. This is harassment, child abuse, and could be construed as assault. Put race back in the equation and we’re talking about a hate crime.

However, all too often the justice system in America is more like ‘just us.’ While hate crime charges were pursued by the school board, it became known that prosecution would not bring the accused up on even child abuse or assault charges but disorderly conduct. Then, a decision in May by the judge of the case removed the possibility of jail time, stating the accused had a clean record and also due to the evidence at hand. Sounds like Rapid City’s finest did not do their due diligence on this one. Indeed, the whole tone of the story became so diluted, from Simon Moya-Smith’s coverage of the incident initially including first-hand witness accounts to the watered down legal court complaint by the prosecution. Seems as if the legal team dropped the ball as well. Trace O’Connell was acquitted of any wrongdoing on Tuesday. Rapid City prosecuting attorney Joel Landeen was “disappointed by the decision.” Hopefully he does something constructive with that disappointment.



Wait a minute, disappointment? Where is the outrage? It shouldn’t have to come from the Oglala whose kids went through this experience, they have their hands full explaining the world to their next generation. Discrimination and violence against Native Americans is endemic in border towns across the U.S., so this is not a special circumstance. The outrage needs to come from us “Justice For All” junkies who want to evolve America and live in a post-racial world. It’s a great idea, but we’ve got a long ways to go.

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Via: Indian Country Today Median Network,

Those interested in more info about the infinitely complex reality of racism in border towns should read this report presented to the federal government in 2011.

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