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New petition asks Riverton to address racism but city council says that’s not their role

Carol Harper
Riverton Peace Mission

The Riverton Peace Mission has released a petition to ask the Riverton City Council to address racism. The announcement came at their annual march over the weekend. The petition asks to establish a solutions committee to analyze city policies like policing that might disproportionately affect Indigenous residents.

Riverton Peace Mission’s Chesie Lee said the petition is also asking for more data on Indigenous residents and how to rectify the numbers she is seeing.

“Looking at the outstanding arrest warrants 80 percent of those are against Native Americans, although they are only about 20 percent of the population,” she said.

Lee said there is a cycle of recidivism that needs to be addressed. The petition currently has 35 signatures, and has a goal of around 500.

During a recent Riverton City Council Meeting, the Vice Chair of the Peace Mission Allison Sage addressed Riverton City Council. He said he would like to see more input from Indigenous residents in public policy.

“We want safety. And we want to make it so the City Administrator oversees the training in police de-escalation,” he said.

Councilmember Kyle Larson said that because the Wind River Reservation has its own courts and laws, he does not see what Riverton can do to address racism.

“I don’t see what the City of Riverton could do to make it better, by legislating or passing or anything else,” he said

Riverton Mayor Guard added it's not the council's role to address social issues.

“It's not just the Wind River Reservation, we have our differences as people. I’m reluctant to be the one who takes the city government away from its responsibility, to take care of the city, and make it a social network,” he said.

In 2018, the Riverton City Council had a solutions committee that suggested a habitually intoxicated fine for businesses that the council shot down. The petition is an attempt to show public interest in addressing racism.

Taylar Dawn Stagner is a central Wyoming rural and tribal reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. She has degrees in American Studies, a discipline that interrogates the history and culture of America. She was a Native American Journalist Association Fellow in 2019, and won an Edward R. Murrow Award for her Modern West podcast episode about drag queens in rural spaces in 2021. Stagner is Arapaho and Shoshone.
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