Riot still remembered by those involved
Doll, Kitchen still remember AIM protest at Custer County Courthouse
Published: Thursday, February 21st, 2013
It may be a struggle to remember what happened in Custer County years ago, but many in the area remember the exact events on Feb. 6, 1973.
Between 100 and 200 members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) arrived in Custer that afternoon and joined 24 other Native Americans to protest the murder of Wesley Bad Heart Bull of Hot Springs. The group, lead by Russell Means and Dennis Banks, protested the second degree manslaughter charge against Darld Schmitz of Custer and demanded it be changed to a murder charge, which then-states attorney Hobart Gates refused to do.
“It was a bunch of unruly people trying to cause trouble,” said Dave Doll, who on his own helped in the fight against rioters. “I remember it was hard to stop them. Iâï¿½ï¿½had to chase one of them off my logging truck.”
Vandalism and violence was rampant throughout town and heavy at the courthouse. A radiator was ripped from the courthouse wall, windows and doors were broken and a fire took out part of the courthouse and the chamber of commerce building.
“They didn’t get much of a fire going,” Doll said. “But they did a lot of damage.”
Shops downtown were broken into and another fire was attempted at Dave’s Texaco station.
“They tried to turn over a gas truck coming into town,” said Jack Kitchen, who was working for the county at the time. Kitchen was working on a water truck, which was sitting at the Dairy Queen. “We were waiting for Russell Means and his group. The city had their trucks out and we waited. We were going to freeze them.”
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