Hotel staff quit in protest after owner banned Native Americans
A South Dakota hotel owner said she was banning all Native Americans after a shooting in one of the rooms – sparking such outrage that all of her bar staff quit in protest, according to reports.
“We will no longer allow any Native Americans[s] on [the] property,” Grand Gateway Hotel owner Connie Uhre wrote on Facebook, according to screenshots. shared by outraged Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender.
“Natives killing natives,” she wrote, though the victim of the shooting at her hotel on Saturday remained alive, albeit with life-threatening injuries, according to the police.
Uhre also told staffers in an email that she “really doesn’t want to allow natives on the property,” South Dakota Public Broadcasting reported.
“The problem is that we don’t distinguish the good guys from the native bad guys… so we just have to say no to them!!” she wrote, according to the widely shared thread SDPB said she checked.
His views were immediately condemned by hotel executives on the wire, the broadcaster noted, including one executive who told him, “Your racist rant is not welcome.”
“These views are abhorrent and have no place in our community let alone our industry,” wrote one hotel manager, while another asked to be removed from “this disgusting message chain “.
Staff at the hotel’s popular Cheers Sports Bar went even further – and all quit in protest, also joined by other hotel staff, SDPB said.
“I just don’t want to be associated with that,” said one, Red Elk Zephier, who is Yankton Sioux and Oneida. “I didn’t even think about the money or anything, I can’t have that in my life.”
The bar’s regular DJ, Paul “DJ Pauly G” Geissler, also said he “would never set foot there again.”
The Rapid City government, the Oglala Sioux Tribe, local law enforcement and business organizations also sent an open letter condemning the proposed ban and asking the hotel owners to publicly apologize.
“These racially-based hateful statements take us back to the volatile commentary of the 1950s and 1960s,” reads the letter shared by SDPB.
Uhre’s son, who manages the hotel, confirmed to the public broadcaster that they were not taking new bookings due to a flood of threats over his mother’s comments, which he blamed on a knee-jerk reaction to his “frustration and grief” at the shooting. .
He insisted: “Natives are welcome at the Grand Gateway Hotel, they always have been, they always will be.”
Lara Roetzel, chief assistant prosecutor for the Pennington County State’s Attorney’s Office, told the outlet that Uhre’s comments were protected by the First Amendment and that she would not face legal action. only if the hotel actually implemented the ban.
Police said Quincy Bear Robe, 19, was arrested in connection with the shooting and charged with aggravated assault and the commission of a felony with a firearm. Additional charges may be pending, police said.