The City of Riverton will hold a peace march this Saturday to celebrate tolerance and equality in the wake of the shooting of two Native American men by a white city parks worker last month.
Both victims were sleeping inside the Center of Hope detox center when they were attacked. James "Sonny" Goggles, Jr., 50, was seriously injured and Stallone Trosper, 29, died.
The event was organized by Ron Howard, an enrolled member of the Northern Arapaho Tribe who teaches preschool on the Wind River Reservation.
Howard says after the shooting, he saw a lot of hate and pain on social media, and decided to organize something that would encourage healing.
“It’s frustrating, because the vast majority of people in this town—Native and non-Native—want a peaceful solution,” says Howard. “They want to be able to live and work and do what they do in peace, without having to worry about getting shot or their children getting hurt or ridiculed—or fights and all that other stuff. They just want to live in peace.”
Saturday’s march will begin at 9:00 a.m. at the Rails to Trails Park across the street from the detox center. Participants will march about a mile down Main Street to Riverton’s City Park for a reception.
“One of the messages that I want to send with this peace march is that we all have it within in us to commit bigotry and we all have it within us to do racist things and be that way, but we also have it in us to do the right thing,” says Howard. “What’s the solution? I think the solution is just patience for everybody.”
Howard says the city of Riverton and its police department are supportive of the peace march—and they hope it will become an annual event.
At City Park, participants will be able to add their names to a list pledging to promote peace and tolerance instead of anger, hate and racism.
“We came up with the idea of getting names and posting a monument of some kind—a living monument that changes—where people can show their support for equality and tolerance,” says Howard. “So that’s what we’re hoping for. That’s our next goal, after this peace march.”