AP

Suit filed over threat to ban Native Americans from hotel

Mar 23, 2022, 3:35 PM | Updated: 6:23 pm

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — Hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside a federal courthouse in a South Dakota city Wednesday to cheer the filing of a federal lawsuit over a hotel owner’s pledge to ban Native Americans from the property.

The protesters held a rally and prayer meeting in a Rapid City park then walked the streets in response to a social media post by a Grand Gateway Hotel owner who said she would not allow Native Americans on the property. Demonstrators marched to sounds of drums and carried tribal flags and signs.

One banner that read, “We will not tolerate racist policies and practices” stood as a backdrop for tribal leaders and others to talk about the civil rights suit that cites “a policy, pattern, or practice of international racial discrimination against Native Americans.” The suit seeks class action status.

Brendan Johnson, a former U.S. attorney for South Dakota and lawyer for the plaintiffs, said the “rest of the world” needs to know what’s going on in Rapid City. The suit seeks unnamed general and punitive damages.

“We need to be clear. We don’t file this complaint to send a message. We file this complaint because we want justice,” Johnson said at a press conference.

Connie Uhre, one of the owners of the Grand Gateway Hotel in Rapid City, posted the ban notice on Facebook Sunday. That followed a shooting at the hotel early Saturday involving two Native American teenagers, Rapid City police said. Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Chairman Harold Frazier called the post racist and discriminatory and demanded an apology.

Messages left at the hotel were not immediately returned. Court documents do not list an attorney for defendants.

Red Elk Zephier, the hotel manager, told South Dakota Public Broadcasting that the entire staff at the hotel bar and some hotel workers quit due to the proposed ban. Elk Zephier. who is who is Yankton Sioux and Oneida, also quit.

“I can’t have that be a part of my life, that negativity. So I just don’t want to be associated with that,” said Zephier. “I didn’t even think about the money or anything involved, I just, I can’t have that in my life.”

Rapid City, known to many as the gateway to Mount Rushmore, is home to more than 77,000 people. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, at least 11% of its residents identify as American Indian or Alaska Native.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

This satellite image from Planet Labs PBC shows Iran's nuclear site in Isfahan, Iran, April 4, 2024...

Associated Press

Israel, Iran play down apparent Israeli strike. The muted responses could calm tensions — for now

Israel and Iran are both playing down an apparent Israeli airstrike near a major air base and nuclear site in central Iran.

14 hours ago

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson, R-La., talks to reporters just after lawmakers pushed a $95 bill...

Associated Press

Ukraine, Israel aid advances in rare House vote as Democrats help Republicans push it forward

The House pushed ahead Friday on a foreign aid package of $95 billion for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and other sources of humanitarian support.

16 hours ago

southern Arizona rancher George Alan Kelly...

Associated Press

Trial of a southern Arizona rancher charged in fatal shooting of unarmed migrant goes to the jury

Closing arguments were made against a southern Arizona rancher accused of shooting an undocumented migrant on his land to death on Thursday.

2 days ago

Donald Trump's hush money trial: 12 jurors selected...

Associated Press

Although 12 jurors were picked for Donald Trump’s hush money trial, selection of alternates is ongoing

A jury of 12 people was seated Thursday in former President Donald Trump's hush money trial. The proceedings are close to opening statements.

2 days ago

A anti-abortion supporter stands outside the House chamber, Wednesday, April 17, 2024, at the Capit...

Associated Press

Democrats clear path to bring proposed repeal of Arizona’s near-total abortion ban to a vote

Democrats in the Arizona Senate cleared a path to bring a proposed repeal of the state’s near-total ban on abortions to a vote.

3 days ago

Most Americans are sleepy new Gallup poll finds...

Associated Press

Most Americans say they don’t get enough sleep, according to new Gallup poll

A new Gallup poll found that most Americans are sleepy — or, at least, they say they are. Multiple factors play into this.

5 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

Suit filed over threat to ban Native Americans from hotel