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AIM Rallies In Rapid City

May 21, 2012, 6:03 PM by Derek Olson

AIM Rallies In Rapid City

The American Indian Movement held a rally in Rapid City on Monday to bring public attention to what they see as a racially-motivated attack against one of their elders at Rapid City Regional Hospital.

When Vern Traversie was discharged from the hospital after undergoing heart surgery last September, he noticed some suspicious cuts or burns on his torso.

Some say the marks resemble the letters KKK.

"I've seen his wounds and they don't look natural.  It just doesn't look right," protester Jerry Clown said.

"For something like this to happen is kind of a tragedy, kind of a disgrace," Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Council member Bryce In The Woods said.

It's a sentiment shared by many people and Monday, the American Indian Movement held a rally to voice their concerns.

"The roots of racism in Rapid City grow strong," AIM Founder Dennis Banks said.

The police already investigated the incident and didn't come up with enough evidence to file charges, but many here don't trust their findings.

"That's like asking the Rapid City Police Department to investigate the FBI. They're going to say no crime has been committed because they are one in the same," Banks said.

After rallying at Memorial Park, between 400 and 500 protesters took to the streets and marched nearly two miles to Rapid City Regional Hospital.

"I've been in this hospital many times and have gotten mistreated many times," Clown said.

"This is the United States of America.  We're the best in the world so we shouldn't be putting up with any kind of racial discrimination or any kind of violence in any form," In The Woods said.

And what is it that the protesters want?

"There needs to be some reconciliation with not just word, but through actions.  Something has to happen for Vern and I think that's why this rally is going on; justice for Vern," In The Woods said.

"Awareness.  Maybe some change.  Something has to happen.  Something good, positive has to happen," Clown said.

Officials at Rapid City Regional did meet with a small group of AIM leaders.  There's no word on what came of the talks yet.

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