lake andes, sd
Just outside the courthouse, a few tribal members gathered Monday morning to demonstrate at the site of the Ron Fischer Junior manslaughter trial.
Not to protest Fischer's trial, but rather draw awareness to what they see as an ongoing problem on the reservation when it comes to drugs and alcohol.
Frances Zephier and a couple of others stood outside the Charles Mix County Courthouse chanting anti-drug messages.
"People will do meth until they don't have any more and then on their downward spiral, they start drinking and when they start drinking and coming off of meth that's when crimes occur. That's when people die; children die when that occurs," Zephier said.
They say the trial of Ron Fischer Junior is a tragic example of what happens when people abuse drugs or alcohol.
"It brings animosity between the races and it's not a race issue. We all suffer from the same drugs and alcohol and here, it's just no enforcement. There's enforcement in some places, but there's no enforcement in others," Zephier said.
Zephier feels there needs to be tougher laws when it comes to drugs and alcohol and there needs to be better cooperation between the state, federal and tribal law enforcement officials to help eradicate what many see as the social ills on the reservation.
"They use the system here and on Monday they do their drug test and then they'll do meth all the way until Thursday and then they'll start drinking so that by Monday when they have to come in and do their drug tests, they're clean," Zephier said.
As they demonstrate in a peaceful manner, they want the victims' families to know not all Native Americans are to blame.
"There's people out there, we do support them and that they're not alone and that we may be just little people, but we are concerned and we have been fighting these issues in the community to prevent other children from being taken, being murdered," Zephier said.
The peaceful demonstration lasted three hours.