South Dakota man on trial in American Indian kids harassment

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - A trial is under way inside a high school auditorium for a South Dakota man accused of harassing American Indian children with racial slurs and spilling beer on them at a hockey game.

Trace O’Connell has pleaded not guilty to a disorderly conduct charge in Rapid City. The January incident spurred protests in South Dakota’s second-largest city, with critics saying the charge was too lenient.

The bench trial started Wednesday, with roughly 130 people in the audience. The judge moved the trial to the theater to accommodate an expected large crowd, after officials from the high school said they would bring students and their families to observe.

The judge has said the 41-year-old O’Connell won’t face jail time, which activist Cody Hall on Wednesday called “a slap in the face.”

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