For immediate release: November 22, 2023
Rapid City, SD – Yesterday, the families of Nevaeh Brave Heart, Aiko Storm White Eagle, Kasey Arehart, and Kyle Whiting held a sit-in at state’s attorney Lara Roetzel’s office for five hours, calling for her resignation and for an independent investigation into the practices of the State’s Attorney office.
The families and local community members mobilized this peaceful action to call attention to the state’s attorney’s track record of over prosecuting Native people while also failing to serve justice for Native people who have been murdered.
To draw just one sharp comparison: the white man who killed Nevaeh Brave Heart in a hit-and-run and then washed and painted his vehicle to hide evidence was charged with a class one misdemeanor, while Native teenager Kasey Arehart was sentenced to 30 years in prison just for firing a gun, even though no one was hurt.
Photos and videos of the peaceful sit-in can be viewed on NDN Collective’s Instagram page.
“He left her to die in the street and he washed his vehicle, covered it up, painted it. The State’s Attorney has a decision, they choose what they take to trial. They chose to reduce this to a plea deal and not to take it to trial,” said Dee Purue, Rapid City community member, speaking about Nevaeh Brave Heart. “They were going back and forth between the Sheriff’s Office and State’s Attorney Office with who is responsible or who has the final say, and no one has taken responsibility for it. This is just another way to show the community and the public that Native lives do not matter to the majority culture.”
“We demand justice, equal justice for our people. Not only for Nevaeh, but for the rest of our families and our people out here in Native country here in Rapid City on our own homelands, enough is enough we are calling for the resignation of Lara Roetzel,” said Hermus Bettelyoun, Action Organizer at NDN Collective
“The state’s attorney’s office is sending a message to the entire community that you can kill a Native person and pay a small fee and go on with your life. What that does is shows how you value Native people’s lives,” said Sunny Red Bear, Action Organizer at NDN Collective. “We are their constituents, they work for us, right? So where’s our justice?”
“We joined with families who have been horrifically wronged by this justice system which is supposed to apply justice in a fair and impartial way. And we feel that Lara Roetzel has absolutely failed at that,” said Taylor Gunhammer, Local Organizer at NDN Collective. “We are calling for her immediate resignation as a matter of safety for our community, because we are tired of not surviving her so-called process.”
Take Action with Us!
CALL NOW! 605-394-2191 or 605-773-3215 and demand that State’s Attorney Lara Roetzel resign from her position.
Sample call script:
Hello, this is [YOUR NAME]. I’m calling today because I believe State’s Attorney Lara Roetzel must be removed from her position for failure to hold those accountable for the murder of Native people and abusing her power to unjustly prosecute Native people. I demand the immediate resignation of State’s Attorney Lara Roetze and equal justice for Native people. Thank you for your time.
NDN Collective is an Indigenous-led organization dedicated to building Indigenous power. Through organizing, activism, philanthropy, grantmaking, capacity-building, and narrative change, we are creating sustainable solutions on Indigenous terms.
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