A Rapid City Rush minor league ECHL hockey game in South Dakota turned ugly on Jan. 24 after unidentified men in a VIP suite reportedly poured beer on and shouted racial insults at 57 Native American students sitting beneath them.
Justin Poor Bear, a father who helped chaperone the kids, wrote on his Facebook page:
"[W]e were sitting below VIP club site, there were 15 or more inside of the suite most of them men, they were getting drunk and around the 3rd Quarter they talking crap to our kids and throwing down beer on some of them including our staff and students, we were sitting on the far end nothing happened to our side or the row, because they were getting alcohol spilled on them, telling our students to back to the rez..."
Poor Bear and the other chaperones decided to take the students out of the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center (video below).
Craig Baltzer, executive director of the civic center, told KOTA he was shocked by the alleged racist comments and promised to bring the kids back to another game. Baltzer would not reveal the company that rented out the VIP suite.
Tom Helland, president of Eagle Sales, a company that sells beer, told KOTA that his company rents the VIP suite and allowed some out-of-town guests to use it.
Helland apologized for the incident and says he is working to have the kids come to another Rush game. Police opened an investigation into the incident.
“It was just reported to me that we have had parents of the kids call in and give us information that will allow us to investigate this incident further,” Rapid City Police Lt. Mark Eisenbraun told the Rapid City Journal. “So we have opened an investigation, and we thank the public for reporting criminal activity when they see it.”
Witness Andy Hollander said men in the VIP suite "seemed to gloat over what they had accomplished in chasing the student group from the game," but added that other people in the suite "seemed extremely uncomfortable with what was going on."