Stand With Lakota Youth for Civil Rights, End Police Brutality

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On October 23, 2019, two Lakota school girls were fighting outside South Middle School in Rapid City, South Dakota. Officer Richard Holt, a 28 year veteran of the Rapid City Police Department and experienced martial artist, used brutality and excessive force to break up the fight including the use of a palm heel strike against the head of one of the girls as well as pinning the girls down using grappling, straddling and other repugnant fighting moves against the children.

It is unacceptable to justify the treatment of these two Lakota girls by the RCPD, both on the ground during the incident and the police leadership supporting this officer since the incident took place. We, the undersigned, question the wisdom and reason of expecting two girls in the midst of a fistfight to immediately comply with anyone's command. Due to their state of heightened physiological arousal and instinct, it is impossible to consider them rational choice makers during those seconds and minutes of the fight itself.

Both girls have been charged with assault. We demand that the criminal charges against them be dropped. Criminalizing children leaves no room for healing and reconciliation.

We consider the incident at South Middle School involving two middle school girls and a Rapid City police officer deploying excessive force including martial arts against the girls to be reprehensible and dehumanizing. Justifying this police conduct against children is unacceptable, especially from moral, law enforcement, educational, mental health, and youth development perspectives.

We assert that this is part of a pattern of widespread police misconduct against Native students and their families in Rapid City that is harmful and ongoing. Effectively responding to this crisis requires bold and united community action. Thus, by consensus, we have adopted a 4 point agenda as a CALL TO ACTION:

1) Immediately terminate RCPD Officer Richard Holt;

2) Prohibit the use of force against all middle and elementary school students by law enforcement officers in Rapid City;

3) Immediately suspend all federal and other funding to Rapid City and Pennington County until victim services, policing, incarceration and the judiciary are thoroughly reviewed and evaluated by independent third parties;

4) Stop the violence in our city, workplaces, schools and homes with a special focus on stopping the ongoing bias against Native Americans and other protected groups in the local criminal justice system.

The civil, treaty and human rights of the Lakota people living in our homelands deserve to be recognized. Our rights are instead being violated regularly by the Rapid City Police Department, the City of Rapid City, Pennington County, the State of South Dakota and all collaborative agencies and funders thereof. We call on all leaders, officials, organizations, educators, advocates, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles to join together in united action against police brutality and the dehumanization of Indigenous youth and people in Rapid City.

We demand justice. We demand equal treatment. We demand educational and racial equity. For our youth, for the elders and all the families struggling to survive and thrive in our occupied treaty territory now known as Rapid City, South Dakota.