Tribe, activist, dispute over Whiteclay alcohol blockade

Published Tuesday July 06, 2010
By the Rapid City Journal

Oglala Sioux Tribe police officers set up alcohol checkpoints outside Whiteclay on Thursday, July 1 but reports that alcohol being taken to Pine Ridge Indian Reservation was confiscated were disputed by tribal officials.

The official numbers on what the OST called a “safety checkpoint” and what the Strongheart Civil Rights group calls a “blockade” were: 110 vehicles stopped and 14 citations issues: seven for seat-belt violations and seven for driving without a valid license. There were no alcoholic beverages confiscated, according to OST Police Chief Everett Little Whiteman and his staff.

“Not even a can of beer,” Lt. Richard Greenwald said.

Strongheart founder Duane Martin Sr. disputed those statistics, saying that he was told 52 cases of beer were confiscated during the morning blockade between Whiteclay, where last year, four small beer stores collectively sold about 4.6 million cans of beer to residents on the Pine Ridge reservation, where alcohol is prohibited.

Martin said Friday that police officials were trying to “sabotage” the blockade event by under-reporting the amount of alcohol found. “I was there; the police chief wasn’t there,” he said.

“The original report that no alcoholic beverages were confiscated by the officers manning the checkpoint still stands,” Little Whiteman said by e-mail. “Lt. Greenwald made that report to Captain (Ron) Duke.”

Greenwald said officers used the safety checkpoints to talk to motorists about seat-belt safety. He said Martin’s numbers on beer confiscations were “a complete lie” and called any assertion that confiscated beer disappeared “ridiculous.”

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