A group of Native American students said that they were forced to leave a hockey game in South Dakota over the weekend after men in a skybox poured beer on them and targeted them with racial slurs.
In a Facebook post, Justin Poor Bear explained that his child was one of the 57 American Horse School students who he accompanied to the Rush hockey game in Rapid City on Saturday night. Poor Bear said that men in a skybox at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center poured beer down onto the students, who were sitting in a rented suite.
“They were getting drunk and around the third quarter they were talking crap to our kids and throwing down beer on some of them, including our staff and students … telling our students to go back to the rez,” Poor Bear wrote.
Eventually school staff decided to leave the game early for the safety of the students.
“The harassment they received in there [SIC] young lives, something they should have never went thru tonight, it’s child abuse, they went thru racism tonight,” Poor Bear observed.
Rushmore Plaza Civic Center Executive Director Craig Baltzer told KOTA that the students had been invited to hockey games for the last five years, and this was the first year that there was a problem.
“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” he said. “Some of the things being said to the children were racially charged. I don’t know how to perceive people would behave that way.”
“I’m very disappointed in how people behaved,” Baltzer added. “We have to bring these kids back to have a good experience.”
Eagle Sales, a South-Dakota based beer distributor, released a statement this week, revealing that it had rented the skybox, and that one of its clients had borrowed it the night the incident occurred.
“I would like to formally apologize to the students of American Horse School who worked so hard to get the opportunity to attend a Rush game, and to their parents and chaperones for the incident that occurred Saturday night,” company president Tom Helland said. “My company Eagle Sales of the Black Hills is investigating the situation and taking appropriate action.”
Watch the video below from KOTA, broadcast Jan. 26, 2015.