Whiteclay activists protest at distributorship

Published August 31, 2007
KDUH-TV Channel 4, Scottsbluff, Neb.

Efforst to stop alcohol flowing from Whiteclay, Nebraska to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation moved to the Panhandle today, but protestors did not get the answers they were seeking.

Having been unsuccessful in attempts to blockade beer from entering the Pine Ridge Reservation from Nebraska, protestors took a different tack Thursday. Native American activists and members of Nebraskans for Peace picketed outside the Scottsbluff Budweiser distributorship, seeking the help of Anheuser-Busch in dealing with issues north of Whiteclay, including a reduction in alcohol-related deaths.

Says activist Frank LaMere, “Many of them are our children. Scores of children who are dead because of alcohol that is illegally exported into Pine Ridge from Nebraska with the misery, the devastation that goes with it.”

Some 20% of all children on the reservation suffer from fetal alcohol syndrome. But efforts to speak with the owner of High Plains Budweiser were met with what they considered to be a patronizing press release.

“They, like legislators in Nebraska, continue to take a powder on this issue which should raise red flags among every one of us,” commented LaMere.

In the press release, High Plains Budweiser General Manager Jeffrey Scheinost says the distributorship has long been committed to promoting “responsible consumption of our products among adults of legal drinking age.” The release further stated that if the aim of the protest was to “draw attention to the need for comprehensive, effective approaches that will truly make a difference…hopefully it will result in raising awareness among those who are truly in a position to help.”

“They could play a role at the state legislature and see to it the Nebraska Legislature passes legislation that gives the Liquor Control Commission the ability to deal with the problem in Whiteclay,” says Mark Vasina with Nebraskans for Peace.

If there’s no action by the Nebraska Legislature, protestors are ready to take the issue to the corporate steps of Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis, “and we’re going to knock on your door and we’re going to continue to illustrate their awareness so you will help protect my people and put an end to this misery,” says activist Duane Martin Sr.

For those Nebraskans who think the issue does not affect them, LaMere says Native Americans are like the proverbial “canary in a coal mine”.

LaMere says it’s only a matter of time until the devastating effects of alcohol are felt in Scottsbluff and in Omaha, in Lincoln, in Hastings and other places.

PROTESTORS HAVE ALSO PUT COORS ON NOTICE OF PROTESTS COMING THEIR WAY.
ACTIVISTS PLAN ON TAKING THE ISSUE TO THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION IN DENVER NEXT YEAR.

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