Filling In the Gaps

 Today’s Riverton Ranger has a frontpage story that opens with, “Anderson Antelope’s numerous contacts with law enforcement and medical professionals in the days leading up to his death at the hands of a Riverton police officer demonstrates the gaps in the criminal justice and health care systems in meeting the needs of a vulnerable member of society.”

The article, written by Katie Roenigk, raises more questions than it answers because the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office refuses to release the results of the investigation of the sexual assault of Andy Antelope that was reported on September 18, 2019, to Officer James Donahue, the same officer who pulled the trigger on September 21, 2019, killing Andy Antelope. The county attorney supports the decision of the sheriff’s office to not release the report, although a Wyoming Supreme Court decision rules that the report can be released to the public, although names may be redacted. 

I have asked why the police were called by Walmart that fateful day when, according to witnesses, Andy Antelope was not causing any problems at the time and within 7 minutes and 14 seconds of the officer’s arrival, the officer kills Andy.  But now the question also is, why was Andy even at Walmart when health care professionals report serious health concerns indicating that he needed instead to have been somewhere receiving medical care due to the sexual assault and health disorders.

Unanswered questions for me are:

Why did the police and county attorney prevent a public inquest?

Why is the sexual assault investigation not made public?

Why was Andy Antelope not provided with the health care he so obviously needed?

Was a rape kit conducted and what were the findings?

What were the results of the investigation of the sexual assault?

What is being covered up and why?

When people ask why we are still working for “Justice for Andy,” the answer is clear. To date, there has been zero accountability, no changes in policies that I know about that would prevent this from happening again, and the police have not acknowledged any wrongdoing. When someone has done you wrong, and you ask them to be accountable to you for what they did and they say, “No,” are you supposed to say, “Oh, OK?” Certainly not! The same goes for “Justice for Andy.”

The time is now that people come together and decide what we are going to do about this. One simple way is to join the “Justice for Andy” group that meets by Zoom.  I can arrange for an invitation to be sent to you. If you have other suggestions, let us hear about them. In any case, we must continue to talk for us to make change and to heal. Just like the issues of trauma caused by the boarding school era and Murdered and Missing Indigenous People (MMIP), police brutality and unresponsive systems to serve the most vulnerable must be addressed. Complicity with cover-up leads neither to change nor healing. 

Note that involvement in this work comes from the direction from the family of Andy Antelope, especially his oldest son, Anderson Antelope, Jr.

Fear not. Be bold. Build relationships. Be humble. Do justice.