WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2002
A Nebraska state judge fined five activists $100 for drinking beer in public
as a protest against liquor sales to Native Americans.
Nebraskans for Peace has sought to draw attention to the liquor problems in
Whiteclay. The town is located near the South Dakota border and its four beer
establishments cater largely to residents from the Pine Ridge Reservation.
The group is holding a rally today at the state capitol.
Get the Story:
Seven Whiteclay protesters plead guilty, get $100 fines (The Lincoln Journal
Nebraskans for Peace to hold rally (The Lincoln Journal Star 9/25)
Seven Whiteclay protesters plead guilty, get $100 fines
BY BUTCH MABIN / Lincoln Journal Star
Five members of Nebraskans for Peace
cited for drinking malt liquor outside the governor's mansion this summer in
a self-described act of civil disobedience concluded their protest with
guilty pleas Tuesday. Lancaster County Judge Gale Pokorny accepted the five
pleas, as well as the guilty pleas of two additional members not in court,
and imposed $100 fines on each.
The seven men and women opened and drank from cans of malt liquor on the
governor's lawn in June in protest of what they called slack enforcement of
liquor laws in Whiteclay, a Nebraska town adjacent to the Pine Ridge Indian
Reservation. The five members present Tuesday made statements to the court
about their decisions to break the law. Byron D. Peterson, 65, told Pokorny
he hoped the group's action would call attention to and end what Peterson
described as "the double standard between liquor law enforcement in Lancaster
County and in Whiteclay." Linda Ruchala, 48, another protester, said in a
prepared statement Whiteclay, a town of 14, has four off-sale dealers who
sell more than 11,000 cans of beer a day in an area where there is no legal
place to drink. "I think of myself as a law-abiding person, and also one who
takes responsibility for her actions," she stated. "My act of drinking beer
on the governor's front lawn was an act of political speech designed to
underscore the lack of enforcement of liquor laws that occur daily in
Whiteclay." Pokorny told the group he had no authority in Whiteclay and would
treat the seven defendants no differently from other defendants appearing
before him for consuming alcohol in public. The charge is a misdemeanor that
includes maximum penalties of three months in jail and a $500 fine. Winnebago
Native Frank LaMere, who brought the Whiteclay issue to public attention five
years ago, said the state has done little or nothing to address the problem.
"The law is for the protection of the people," he said in a written statement
Tuesday. "Unfortunately, it does not protect people like us." In addition to
Peterson and Ruchala, the protesters fined were: Sarah E. Wiese, in her early
20s, John O. McCaslin, 73, Jonathan Ferguson, 27, Carol McShane, 62, Ronald
Marquart, 59. Reach Butch Mabin at 473-7234 or at email@example.com.
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