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(Neb)-Whiteclay Activists Want More

By: John Axtell Posted at: 12/23/2017 01:32 AM
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - The report issued this week by the task force on Whiteclay outlining economic development and community improvement goals for the coming year is being blasted by some of the activists who successfully fought to halt beer sales there as not doing enough.

     Oklahoma attorney John Maisch and filmmaker John Maisch calls it “wholly inadequate and tone deaf” to some bigger issues affecting the unincorporated Sheridan County community on the border with the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

       Maisch, a former Oklahoma alcohol regulator who produced a documentary on the problems caused by alcohol sales in Whiteclay, says the closure of the beer stores earlier this year has to be just a "first step" in addressing crime and violence in and near the community.

       Opponents of closing the beer stores had argued for years that residents of the reservation, where alcohol is banned, would simply drive to other towns if sales were ended in Whiteclay.

     Maisch, Native American activist Frank LaMere, and Lincoln businessman Alan Jacobsen now agree and are calling on the state to increase enforcement of liquor laws to crack down on bootlegging from other communities such as Chadron and Rushville.

      State liquor commission figures from this past summer indicated alcohol sales had increased in communities near the reservation in both Nebraska and South Dakota to about 80-to-90% of the sales in Whiteclay before the stores closed at the end of April. The stores sold the equivalent of 3.6-million cans of beer every year.

      The activists also want the state to form a "cold case" law enforcement unit for unsolved killings in and near Whiteclay. LaMere, a former member of the Nebraska Indian Commission, says he has no faith in Sheridan County investigators to solve at least 5 open killings in the last 2 decades.

      Among the cases they want actively reopened are the 1999 deaths of Wally Black Elk and Ronald Hard Heart, which sparked protests and drew national attention to the beer sales in Whiteclay, and the August 2016 death of Sherry Wounded Foot, who died in the hospital 12 days after being found unconscious on the streets of Whiteclay.


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