Who owns Grand Gateway Hotel? Owner warned of ‘consequences’ as she bans Native Americans
Rapid City hotel bans all Native Americans after shooting that killed one on the property, town Mayor and internet hit back at owner's decision
A hotel in Rapid City, South Dakota has banned all Native Americans, in a move that has since gone viral online. On March 22, Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender tweeted that the Grand Gateway Hotel would no longer welcome Native American patrons, sharing what appears to be a Facebook post by the hotel's owner. While that post has since been taken down, the backlash hasn't stopped, with social media users slamming the owner for her racist decision.
The Grand Gateway joins a long list of businesses accused of racism. Back in March 2020, Mow Masters in Texas caused a storm after claiming it was an alternative to "illegal lawn services," seemingly hinting at immigrant businesses. In July 2021, Flex Fitness in Hendersonville, North Carolina kicked out a Mexican family for Spanish music. In March 2022, the Port Neches-Groves High School in Texas found itself being accused of racism after its dance team, the Indianettes performed at Disney World, Florida.
The consequences have been swift, with conscious internet users boycotting the businesses, a move that appears to have been extended to the Grand Gateway. As news of the ban quickly spread, the internet was quick to condemn the hotel's owner, and swarm its social media pages with negative reviews.
Who owns the Grand Gateway Hotel?
According to Allender's tweet, the owner of the hotel is Connie Uhre. We couldn't find much information about Uhre, who appears to have since scrubbed her social media. Similarly, she appears to have also scrubbed the businesses' social media accounts, leaving no information up barring a description on Facebook. The Facebook page says the hotel is "family owned & operated for 3 generations." South Dakota Public Broadcasting (SDPB) said Uhre was the president of the Retsel Corporation, which appears to be the parent company of the hotel.
The scandal erupted after March 19, 2022, shooting at the hotel. 19-year-old Quincy Bear Robe was arrested for the incident, which left one teen dead. It is not confirmed if Robe is a Native American, but based on Uhre's reaction, it appears he is. On March 20, Uhre posted on Facebook, "Due to the killing... We will no longer allow any Native Americans on property. Or in Cheers Sports Bar. Natives killing Natives. Rancher and Travelers will receive a very special rate."
In addition to blaming the mayor, police chief, sheriff, candidate for sheriff and the court system, a local hotel bans all Native Americans for a shooting a few days ago on hotel property. Neither the shooting or Grand Gateway’s response to it reflect our community values. pic.twitter.com/vA9oXND0qi— Steve Allender (@Mayor_Allender) March 21, 2022
She added, "Rapid City has gone to Hell since the City has been accepting all the Free Money with strings attached," referring to the McArthur Foundation's donations to the city for its criminal justice reform plans. She later defended her decision, telling Rapid City Journal she can't tell "who is a bad Native or a good Native." However, it appears the reactions have forced her to do a massive u-turn, with her son Nick later telling SDPB that the ban would not go into effect.
Lawsuit threatened, furious net reacts
SDPB reported that the "entire staff at a hotel bar" quit in response to Uhre's post. Regular patrons also warned that they were boycotting the hotel, but that doesn't appear to be the end of Uhre's woes. NDN Collective, the American Indian Movement, and Cheyenne River Grassroots Collective announced plans to file a lawsuit following a protest in the city on March 23. City officials also met to discuss the matter, but social media has already taken things into its own hands.
"your unprofessional and unkind policies will reap untold consequences," one user commented on a Facebook ad for the hotel. On that same post, another replied, "Shame on you for your blatant racism. I hope your business suffers and you lose your livelihood. And insincere apologies will be useless at this point." A third said, "Close this business forever. This family should never own any businesses in this city or state."
"If these are your views, I will NEVER allow any of my friends or family to use your hotel again," one person tweeted. Another said, "Oh dear me....isn't that in violation of federal law, I won't cry over what happens to Grand Gateway Hotel and in my current condition I can't express what I feel. F-----g outrageous." A third tweeted, "Y’all should be ashamed of yourselves. The racist nonsense this hotel stands for is blood on every single one of y’all’s hands. Absolutely intolerable and outrageous. You should be closed down for this."
If these are your views, I will NEVER allow any of my friends or family to use your hotel again. pic.twitter.com/0x279XE8k0— David R Coleman IV, PhD (@DrTwistedTweet) March 21, 2022
Oh dear me....isn't that in violation of federal law, I won't cry over what happens to Grand Gateway Hotel and in my current condition I can't express what I feel. Fucking outrageous. https://t.co/WO60MTxirK— RapidCityMom (@Sarah24939533) March 22, 2022
Y’all should be ashamed of yourselves. The racist nonsense this hotel stands for is blood on every single one of y’all’s hands. Absolutely intolerable and outrageous. You should be closed down for this.— abolish stairs 🇵🇸 RT PINNED (@amooseboy) March 22, 2022
Other users are leaving negative reviews on the hotel's social media platforms and third-party services, while some users have unearthed past social media posts accusing Nick and the hotel management of racism. So far, Uhre hasn't apologized for her statement, but it appears the hotel hasn't instituted a ban either.