South Dakota police are investigating an allegation that a group of men in a skybox at a minor-league hockey game Saturday dumped beer and yelled racial slurs at Native American children—some as young as 9 years old—causing the group to leave early.
Chaperone Justin Poor Bear made the claims in a Facebook post that the 57 American Horse School (S.D.) students were harassed at a Rapid City Rush game. Via KOTA:
In a Facebook post, Poor Bear said "They were getting drunk and around the third quarter they were talking crap to our kids and throwing down beer on some of them, including our staff and students … telling our students to go back to the rez."
Poor Bear acknowledged that he then got a little heated after the beer and slurs were slung at the students. Poor Bear said he did swear at the men … who (according to Poor Bear) "invited" him up to the VIP section to "fight about it."
The Rapid City Journal found Andy Hollander, a season-ticket holder at the game who corroborated part of Poor Bear's account:
Hollander said he was too far away to hear what happened, but he saw two men in the skybox above the students "who seemed to be taking real pleasure in continuing the confrontation" with an adult member of the school group.
The group left before the game ended, leaving three empty rows. Hollander said the men in the skybox "seemed to gloat over what they had accomplished in chasing the student group from the game" and handed out a number of beers to other fans in what Hollander said appeared to be a "celebration." He said several other people in the skybox "seemed extremely uncomfortable with what was going on."
Coincidentally, Rapid City voters are voting on March 10 on a $180 million expansion for the Rushmore Civic Center, where the alleged incident took place.
The school's home page currently has a statement about the incident, noting that they have filed a police report:
American Horse School Board has filed an official police report with the Rapid City Police Department concerning the physical and verbal abuse of their students by males in the Eagle Sales VIP Suite at the Rush Hockey Game at the Rapid City Civic Center on the 24th of January.
The incident which involved racial slurs, pouring of beer on the students, harassment and bullying the students and their AHS school staff chaperones and a parent with a 4 year old child fits the descriptors of a federal Hate Crime and will be brought to the attention of the federal authorities. The students ages 9 to 13 were on an incentive trip with the 2lst Century program, this trip was an award for academic success. The AHS Board and their legal counsel will continue to pursue legal actions necessary to bring justice to these AHS Students and Staff!
H/t to John