During a protest in Whiteclay, Nebraska June 17 in which Oglala Sioux tribal members were protesting beer truck deliveries to beer selling establishments in the town, Oglala Sioux President Bryan Brewer was arrested. At the end of the day, no other arrests were made, Brewer was released on bond and returned to the site and the beer trucks left without making any deliveries.
During the protest, which became heated between tribal members and local law enforcement, Wakpamni District tribal official Dan Rodriguez was thrown to the ground and a Oglala Sioux tribal member and minor had a stun gun held to his neck by a local law enforcement officer.
In less than 24 hours after the arrest of President Brewer, there has been a landslide of activity on Facebook and a video of the incident posted on YouTube has generated more than 9,000 views.
Oglala Lakota Nation President VS Nebraska State Police June 17, 2013 posted by NativeImpact
According to the Public Relations officer of the tribe Toni Red Cloud, the incident began Monday morning when President Brewer asked participants to form a line and not allow beer trucks to deliver alcohol in the town of Whiteclay, Nebraska a town which borders on the Pine Ridge Reservation – a dry reservation.
“It was peaceful but when the sheriff said the trucks needed to move through, the President said, ‘No, not today, maybe some other day, but not today while I am here. He got in my bosses face and people were asking if these officers had any peaceful demonstration training. He could have handled it better,” said Red Cloud.
“From there it escalated, people began shouting and I saw them put the President in the car. They threw another council member Dan Rodriguez on the ground.” Red Cloud said that after Brewer was released on bond he returned to the site of the protest.
April Iris Charlo (Salish) a media liaison from Indian Peoples Action who was at the protest documented much of the event on video. Charlo said there were moments of intensity in which she did not know what might transpire.
“We were watching beer trucks deliver, they wanted to get through but we held the line. There was a standoff in which we just all looked at each other and then the trucks left. We did our victory cries, but they said ‘hold the line’ because it could be a trick. Sure enough they came back.”
“Then the next escalation happened, drivers in the beer trucks had mace,” she said.
Charlo says a driver looked as if he might act hastily. “He looked all pumped up like he wanted to do something, but we weren’t looking for violence. We were just there to have a peaceful event and block these trucks.”
“This one young boy sat down in front of a truck and then others joined him. The driver tried to grab the boy and another guy got in there and then things really started to escalate. Everybody was screaming get your hands off of him,” said Charlo. “At this point things were getting really crazy,” she said.
According to Charlo, the man and the boy on the ground were handcuffed and an officer placed a stun gun on the neck of the sitting boy. After Medical personnel exclaimed that a stun gun fired at someone’s neck could potentially kill them and after some further heated discussion, the crowd agreed collectively to stand back. Eventually the two on the ground were released.
After her experience with Whiteclay and seeing the effects of alcohol on Native people, Charlo says she hopes to see the end of the town.
“Whiteclay needs to be shut down and it needs to go away,” says Charlo. “Our people are suffering and it is just so sad.”