Hundreds of Native Americans demanded justice on Monday from Rapid City Regional Hospital in Rapid City, South Dakota for Vern Traversie.
Traversie, a legally blind member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, says the initials KKK were carved into his chest during open-heart surgery at Regional Hospital in August 2011, reports the Rapid City Journal.
An online video (below) about the scars recently went viral. However, not everyone can see the KKK lettering.
About 300 Native American demonstrators, led by American Indian Movement activist Dennis Banks, marched in a rally to the parking lot of the hospital.
Banks told the crowd: “We can’t let this day go by without getting some answers from this hospital. It can’t be that way.”
Banks also told the demonstrators to put the hospital out of business.
Regional Hospital’s chief executive officer, Tim Sughrue, said the hospital would welcome the opportunity to comment on Traversie’s case, but cannot without his written permission, due to a patient confidentiality law.
Not in attendance, Traversie, issued a statement about the show of support by the Native community and called for a criminal investigation: “I am scarred for life, but I seek justice. I don’t want any other Native American to be treated like I was by the medical professionals who I trusted to take care of me when I was vulnerable."
“I am thankful that so many Native Americans and other people from all over the world have reached out to me to say that they support me. I am humbled by their compassion.”
The Rapid City Police Department did investigate Traversie’s allegations, but at the request of the demonstrators, referred the case to the FBI, Rapid City Police Chief Steve Allender said.