Community dialogues set in response to fatal Center of Hope shootingSep 29, 2015 By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer
A fatal shooting in July at the Center of Hope in Riverton raised concerns about violence motivated by race in Fremont County.
Soon after the incident, the Northern Arapaho Tribe met with officials at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., to request a federal hate crime investigation into the incident.
Locally, officials decided to work together in an attempt to ease tensions. Meetings were planned to encourage comprehension and communication between tribal and non-tribal people in the county.
The series of meetings are intended for residents, educators, law enforcement, city officials, tribal officials and anyone interested in a peaceful community, organizers said.
The first community dialogue meeting is scheduled for 6-8 p.m. Oct. 21 at the Rocky Mountain Hall in Fort Washakie. Other meetings will be held Nov. 18 and Dec. 9 at different locations.
Riverton Mayor Lars Baker said each of the meetings will address questions including, "Who are we?" "Where are we?" "Where would we like to be?" and "Can we find any way to get there?"
Baker urged residents and city council members to participate.
The meetings and group facilitator trainings for people interested in leading the dialogue meetings were set up by Rosa Salamanca, senior conciliation specialist with the USDOJ.
Recently, Salamanca communicated to participants that a "federal budget issue" with the DOJ's community relations service was delaying the first dialogue meeting, which was scheduled to take place Sept. 30.
Salamanca released a flyer that said the purpose of the dialogues is to "foster a safe and inclusive community that respects and values the diversity of all members."
The flyer also lists contact information for Baker, Lander Mayor Del McOmie and Northern Arapaho Business Council member Ronald Oldman.
Burnett WhitePlume is a local resident who has agreed to join the meetings. He said the open dialogue discussions will center on race relations.
"These are to reduce tensions we feel in our community," WhitePlume said. "The majority of our community will be able to come together and have some peace, an agreement and better relationships."
Anyone can be a part of the meetings, he emphasized, because the main goal is to build unity.
Oldman said the meetings will help develop a level of trust and reach a consensus.
"Solutions will not be reached with a simple meeting," he said. "Solutions can only be found over time, after all sides meet and get to know each other."
Another new initiative, the Wind River Citizens Equality Committee, formed after tensions grew as a result of the Environmental Protection Agency's determination in 2013 that Riverton was part of the Wind River Indian Reservation. Committee members said they will participate in and support the dialogue meetings.
Leading committee member Stephen Fast Horse said it is important to address the issues affecting local residents. He says the community is brushing aside a "real dark truth."
"Our communities are plagued with racism on all levels, and all races (are) included," he said. "We need to bring the stories to the front and find solutions."
Stallone Trosper, 29, died at the scene of the July shooting at the Center of Hope as a result of head trauma from a single gunshot wound. James "Sonny" Goggles Jr., 50, was critically injured and flown to Casper for treatment of a gunshot wound to the head.
Both men are members of the Northern Arapaho Tribe.
The alleged shooter, Roy Clyde, 32, of Riverton, who is being held without bail on charges of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder, said he was targeting homeless people in the attack, regardless of race.
Others believe he was motivated by racial bias, and his victims' status as homeless or transient people has been questioned.