The Oglala Sioux Tribal Court has set a May 11 trial date for Duane Martin Sr., the leader of an occupation movement protesting elder abuse in the elderly meals program at Porcupine.
Martin was arrested March 10 by tribal police and faces charges of criminal trespass, breaking and entering, rioting, failure to disperse, disorderly conduct and three charges of elder abuse, according to OST Attorney General Rae Ann Red Owl.
The charges stem from the 18-day-old occupation of the elderly meals building by the Strong Heart Warrior Society, which continues with Martin's supporters, including some tribal elders.
"Because it's involving our elders, we're trying to be respectful, but at the same time, laws have been broken," Red Owl said.
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Martin's supporters said he is a political prisoner whose civil rights have been violated by tribal authorities who are hiding graft and corruption in the elderly meals program. He has been jailed without bond in Pine Ridge.
"He's not being held illegally," Red Owl said. "We had a bond hearing and had him detained pending trial because we think he's a threat to the community."
Strong Heart Warrior Society contends that elders have been served spoiled food in unsanitary conditions at the program. Tribal officials have been asked to respond to a fact-finding investigation by the Health and Human Services Administration on Aging, according to Martin's civil rights advocacy group.
Red Owl said that the demands made by occupation group are being addressed. Martin was the only person arrested in the occupation and further charges against him may be forthcoming, she said.