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The hotel owner who banned Native Americans from her property in South Dakota two months ago was arrested today for assaulting protesters during a protest organized by NDN Collective.
Connie Uhre, 75, owner of the Grand Gateway Hotel in Rapid City, was charged with three counts of assault by the Rapid City Police Department for spraying what appeared to be cleaning agent in the faces of several people outside the hotel.
Uhre’s arrest was confirmed by Warren Poaches, a Rapid City police spokesman. “More information on the crime will be available on Monday,” Poaches said. Indigenous News Online.
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The incident, which has been recorded, happened during a protest at the hotel organized by NDN Collective. Uhre and the Grand Gateway have been under fire since March, when she made derogatory comments about Native Americans and banned them from hotel property after a shooting incident on the property ultimately left one person dead.
In a video posted by NDN Collective, Uhre had a bottle of Pledge, a household cleaner, and sprayed three times towards fellow protesters outside the Grand Gateway Hotel.
“I didn’t think she would do that, being old,” Lucie McClellan, one of the victims of the incident, told Native News Online. “I was shocked and am facing three surgeries for my eye.”
McClellan has glaucoma and diabetes and attends protests with her husband. She is originally from Ponca City, Oklahoma.
“We didn’t know what it was, and at first I thought it was mass,” Lloyd Big Crow, one of the protesters at Friday’s event, told Native News Online. . Big Crow’s nephew, Blaine Pourier, was the victim of a shooting at the Grand Gateway on March 20.
“That’s what we mean when we say white supremacy is violent,” Sunny Red Bear, director of racial equity for NDN Collective, said in a statement Friday. Red Bear was also pulverized by Uhre.
“Connie Uhre already made her view of Indigenous peoples clear when she said she would ban us all from her company, and when her staff followed through on that – those actions were violent.”
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On Saturday, March 26, leaders of the Great Sioux Nation in South Dakota and hundreds of protesters issued a “Notice of Trespass (cease and desist) order against Connie Uhre and the Grand Gateway Hotel in the hope to close the business. After the order was delivered, the hotel posted on its website that it was “temporarily closed” and organizers have continued to protest on hotel property for the past six weeks, calling the company of “racist”.
“Connie Uhre’s behavior today was not only racist, violent and disgusting, it was also illegal,” NDN Collective President and CEO Nick Tilsen said in a statement Friday. “This incident will be added to the federal civil rights lawsuit that was filed in March.”
NDN Collective filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of South Dakota after members of the organizations were denied room rentals two days in a row. The lawsuit alleges that the hotel practices “intentional racial discrimination against Native Americans.”
Under South Dakota law, assault is codified as a class 1 misdemeanor punishable by one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000. Third, and more, subsequent convictions for common assault are punished as felonies in South Dakota.
About the Author: “Darren Thompson (Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe) is a freelance journalist based in the Twin Cities, Minnesota, where he also contributes to Unicorn Riot, an alternative media publication. Thompson has reported on the unrest Politics, Tribal Sovereignty and Indigenous Issues for the Indigenous Peoples Television Network, Indian Country Today, Native News Online, Powwows.com and Unicorn Riot He has contributed to The New York Times, The Washington Post and Voice of America on various Indigenous issues in the international conversation. holds a bachelor’s degree in criminology and legal studies from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.”
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