Nebraska Beer Stores Near Reservation Lose Liquor Licenses
Nebraska Beer Stores Near Reservation Lose Liquor Licenses
21 Abril, 2017, 02:57
But as of Wednesday morning, the four beer stores - which sold 3.6 million cans of beer a year ago largely to the residents of the Oglala Lakota's nearby dry reservation - will be out of business in 11 days.
On Wednesday in Lincoln, the three Nebraska Liquor Control commissioners, acting unanimously, denied the renewal of the liquor licenses of Whiteclay's four beer stores.
Batt said the basis of the ruling was the lack of adequate law enforcement in the area, which is a condition for issuing a liquor license. The stores are expected to appeal the ruling.
Beer sales in Whiteclay have been blamed for numerous problems on the reservation, including rampant alcoholism, alcohol-related crimes and high levels of fetal alcohol syndrome that are estimated to impact one in four children.
Whiteclay draws mostly Native Americans who loiter around abandoned buildings, beg for change and pass out on sidewalks lined with dirty clothes and empty beer cans.
Typically, an action to close down a liquor store is put on hold awaiting the conclusion of a court appeal.
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Advocates urged the commission not to renew the licenses during a hearing earlier this month.
Four businesses there sell millions of cans of beer each year. The tribe's attorney general testified that Nebraska law enforcement officers seldom work with the tribe's police force, which has 25 officers to patrol a reservation that's geographically larger than Rhode Island and DE combined. The tribe's attorney general testified that Nebraska law enforcement officers seldom work with the tribe's police force, which has 25 officers to patrol a reservation that's geographically larger than Rhode Island and DE combined.
Religious leaders who live in Whiteclay said they frequently see public drunkenness, human waste and Native Americans suffering from injuries. Liquor purchases, they say, will just be transferred to bootleggers or to other communities farther away, thus increasing the risks of deadly drunk-driving accidents. Batt says the nearest Nebraska law enforcement in Sheridan County is twenty miles from White Clay.
"I think the commissioners are wrong", Snyder said in a phone call.
Dave Domina, an attorney for the stores' opponents, said those comments played an important role in his case.
Longtime Sheridan County Sheriff Terry Robbins disputed allegations that deputies ignore the problems but acknowledged that he no longer writes citations for open container violations.
A Nebraska State Patrol investigator told commissioners the patrol has received four formal complaints against the stores in the last two years but wasn't able to substantiate any of them.
A woman who wished to remain anonymous said she believes taking beer out of Whiteclay will just result in people moving 20 miles down the road to Rushville, or to Gordon, which is almost 40 miles away.
They also maintain that closing down the stores will not solve liquor woes on the Pine Ridge Reservation, just push liquor purchases elsewhere.
"A dark cloud has been lifted over the State of Nebraska", said John Maisch, an Oklahoma attorney whose documentary film about Whiteclay in 2014 reignited the 20-year effort to shut down the stores.
"We have been poisoning a group of people for many years, and today a decision was made to end that", said Sen. However, he said this isn't the end of addressing the problems that bring the Oglala Lakota there. "We feel Whiteclay can be an enormously vibrant place".
Whiteclay is an unincorporated village of fewer than 10 residents long accused of looking the other way as beer makes it way from Nebraska to South Dakota.
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