Liquor Commission denies Whiteclay liquor licenses

The Liquor Commission made a historic decision to end alcohol sales in the unincorporated town of Whiteclay, Nebraska.

The decision comes after an 11 hour hearing regarding inadequate law enforcement on April 6th.

The town, population 8, sold around 3.5 million cans of beer last year; much of it to members of the dry Pine Ridge Indian Reservation about a mile away.

On Wednesday, the NE Liquor Commission voted unanimously to stop those sales.

"It’s not a place that can exist any longer.” Robert Batt, Chairman, said. “This is not a place that can exist as a purveyor of alcohol at all."

The final vote brought tears to some in the audience.

Frank LaMere was one of them. He is a years long activist for Whiteclay and the surrounding tribes.

"I am proud to be a Nebraskan today and that has been hard especially with Whiteclay looming in the background," Frank LaMere, activist, said.

The debate started back in November when the NE Liquor Commission ordered the stores to reapply for licenses, again claiming Sheridan County had inadequate law enforcement.

"5 officers cannot cover what needs to be done, let alone realize were covering a 35 mile by 66 mile county," Bruce Blair, commissioner said.

The commission rejected Sheridan’s County’s ability to patrol quoting records of more than 150 ambulance calls and testimonies on lack of communication and support.

"We are having deaths and suicides and addictions far beyond any county in the United States," Batt, said.

Activists and lawmakers rejoiced in the decision, but they say closing the stores isn’t the sole solution.

They say they need to actively work within the communities to rebuild, not relocate the problem.

The beer store owners were not at today’s meeting. An appeals lawsuit is expected to follow this order.