South Dakota Hotel Owner Tries to Ban Native Americans, Staff Quits

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The owner of a hotel and bar in Rapid City, South Dakota, in a Facebook post, called for a ban on Native Americans from her establishments, which resulted in the entire bar, and many in the hotel, staff to quit. The post brought widespread condemnation from activists, the mayor of Rapid City, and local business.
On March 19, a shooting occurred at the Grand Gateway Hotel, seriously injuring one. The hotel owner, Connie Uhre, responded to the violence by posting on Facebook that Native Americans customers will no longer be welcome at the hotel or its adjacent bar.
“We will no longer allow any Native American on property. Or in Cheers Sports Bar. Natives killing Natives.”
Police have arrested Quincy Bear Robe, 19, in connection to the crime.
The post was quickly shared and condemned by Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender, adding to the growing attention.
In response, the entire staff of Uhre’s Cheers Sports bar, and some of the hotel staff, quit. The bar's regular DJ pledged to never set foot in the place again, according to South Dakota Public Broadcasting (SDPB).
Multiple organizations, including the city government, the Oglala Sioux Tribe president, the Rapid City and the Pennington County Police Departments, as well as many business organizations have signed a letter condemning the ban and demanding that Uhre apologize for her comments.
“[S]uch racist and hateful statements as expressed by a few individuals only reinforces long-standing feelings of distrust and threatens the relationship of the Rapid City community with its Native American residents and visitors”, the statement reads. “We are calling upon the Uhre family to publicly address and denounce their statements and begin making amends to the community, especially the Native American people.”
Additionally, the NDN Collective, the American Indian Movement and the Cheyenne Grassroots Collective are planning a protest against the hotel and bar. The NDN Collective also says they will file a federal civil rights lawsuit against Uhre and her businesses “for its racist and discriminatory treatment of Native people.”
In response to the backlash, Uhre, in an email thread that included employees and hotel co-owners, doubled-down on her decree to ban Native Americans at the hotel. That thread was widely shared on social media and has since been verified by SDPB.
“I really do not want to allow Natives on property” the post reads “they kill each other, walk around with guns. We need new leadership in Rapid City! [...] The problem is we do not know the nice ones from the bad natives… so we just have to say no to them!!”
In an email to SDPB, Nick Uhre, hotel manager and son of the owner, partially walked back his mother’s comments, stating that “Natives are welcome at the Grand Gateway Hotel, always have been, always will.” He stressed, however, that he feels some of the blame falls on Allender for sharing the post on Twitter.
“Steve Allender has incited violence and he's put a target on my back, my family's back, my staff's back, my guests back” Nick’s email to SDPB stated, while also suggesting that the mayor’s comments were an impeachable offense.
Nick and Connie Uhre have posted on social media in the past, blaming city officials and the non-profit MacAuthor Foundation for a rise of violence in the city.
Any ban by a business, group or entity in the United States that is based on race is in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
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