Hundreds of people took to the streets of of Clinton Friday afternoon in Custer County demanding justice for Native Americans in the community.
The American Indian Movement organized the rally and march which began at Washington Elementary School.
The group, made up of all backgrounds, hoped to send a message to the community that enough is enough.
“It shows that the community, the native community and the community people of color, that we have had enough of Clinton’s racism and trying to sweep things under the rug anytime things happen to our people,” said Cetan Sa Winyan, the Director of the American Indian Movement-Indian Territory of Oklahoma. “So, we are here to show them that we are going to hold you accountable.”
Following a rally in the streets, the group marched to the Clinton Police Department.
“This was Indian territory before it was Oklahoma,” said Winyan. “So, the reason we chose to take to the street is to send a message that this is our land. We are not going to be guests on our land, and we are not going to be told what we can and cannot do on our own land.”
Outrage grew after a 5th grader at Washington Elementary School said school bullies cut his hair.
Claims the district and the Cheyanne & Arapaho tribe dispute.
Adding to anger in the streets, was the death of Butch Herndon, 37.
Organizers said the Clinton Police Department withheld information about Herndon’s death, which occurred while in police custody on August 31.
Following the rally, Clinton police issued a press release saying:
Herndon’s family believes, based on the condition of his body, that he was beat to death.
Herndon’s brother, Leland Howling Buffalo, spoke to News 9’s Clayton Cummins Friday evening.
“I’m going to do what I can for my brother to get justice,” said Buffalo. “I don’t know how it’s going to happen I don’t know where or when, but it is going to happen.”
Organizers from the American Indian Movement said this is the first of more rallies to come.
“We can come together and work together to make changes in Oklahoma, especially in Custer County,” said Winyan.
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is investigating the death of Herndon. The medical examiner has listed his cause of death as pending.
The American Indian Movement encourages anyone to report bullying.