The Indigenous peoples of Mother Earth have always been looked upon with distain on by governments as not being human beings. In fact, Black or African people who were kidnapped from their country and brought to Turtle Island were considered only 3/5 human for many, many decades.
In addition, Lakota and other people Indigenous to Turtle Island are still referred to as savages in the United States Constitution. Consequently, our ancestors were only offered full citizenship in this country on June 2, 1924 – after they volunteered to fight in American wars against human beings living on other continents.
The cold-blooded murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota last week has sparked a rash of criminal activity in many cities in this country. Reports of outsiders – many self-identifying as white supremacists – traveling to other cities to start riots and even looting businesses are being reported by many news sources.
For example, I saw a photo on social media about a peaceful protest in Rapid City. There were some trucks driving around the protest area flying both American and Confederate flags on their vehicles. One truck in the photo had Mellette County license plates. Mellette County contains many parcels of land held in trust for the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. It says a lot about our neighbors when they travel to Rapid City or other places to instigate violence and criminal activity.
Consequently, people of color being murdered in cold blood by police officers is nothing new. The Rosebud reservation is no exception. There have been at least three young Lakota men gunned down by fellow tribal citizens employed by the Rosebud Police Department in the past five years. Obviously, those murders were determined to be justified as no police officers have been arrested. The officers were cleared to go back to work and are now out there patrolling our reservation.
Justice for these young men, murdered in cold blood by tribal police officers, was not served on Rosebud.
In February 2016, Raymond Gassman was shot and killed after being chased into a home by a Rosebud Police officer. This killing was downplayed by authorities and others because Gassman was on escape status from a halfway house. There were also no arrests in this shooting.
In March 2018, Adam “Skinny” Poor Bear was 28 years old when he was shot and killed by a tribal police officer. There were no arrests in this shooting.
In January 2019, Jacob Archambault Spotted Tail was pursued by tribal police officers through the Rosebud community. The chase ended with Spotted Tail’s death in the middle of Rosebud. A video was posted on social media on the same day this young man was killed. Viewers couldn’t see much through the trees, but the volley of shots fired was an unmistakable sound. The amateur video was removed from social media shortly after it was posted. Even though he was shot over a dozen times, Spotted Tail’s death was later justified by authorities.
Also, the death of Rosebud tribal citizen Zachary Bear Heels in 2017 – who died in Omaha, Nebraska after being assaulted repeatedly with a taser – resulted in the termination of several police officers involved in the killing. The officers who killed Bear Heels were all reinstated to their positions in April 2020. Justice was not served. A memorial walk will be held in Omaha, Nebraska on Friday, June 5, 2020.
Consequently, there is generally no justice served when a person of color is murdered in cold blood by police officers. Their higher ups work hard to cover up the crimes, including the killing of unarmed people. The protests happening now will continue to escalate until justice is served for innocent victims killed in cold blood by men wearing a badge and carrying weapons funded by taxpayer dollars.