BISMARCK – Demonstrators gathered Saturday, July 4, and called for justice for George "Ryan" Gipp Jr., who was killed at the hands of two officers on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in 2017.
About 50 people gathered in Bismarck's Custer Park and marched to the State Capitol to demand that Gipp's case reopen, as Gipp's family says the federal investigation of his death was not thorough. Gipp's family also called for the release of information that they believe the federal government is withholding about the circumstances surrounding Gipp's death.
In October of 2017, two Bureau of Indian Affairs officers shot Gipp multiple times near Fort Yates, N.D., according to a federal lawsuit filed by his family. Gipp, 35, died as a result of his injuries.
The march was led by Henry Gipp, Ryan Gipp's brother, who said his brother was shot five times in the back while he tried to flee from the officers. The officers have not been charged, and Roberta Gipp, Ryan Gipp's mother, said the two officers have not apologized for the death of her son.
"I'm here for my family. I'm here for the truth and I speak for my family who can't speak because the pain is so unbearable," Henry Gipp said to a crowd before the march. "They can't do it. It's hard to even talk about him."
Ryan Gipp's children and significant other also marched in the crowd. About five volunteers wore vests and marched on the outskirts of the group to intervene in the event of any unrest or confrontations. The protest remained peaceful.
The approximately 4-mile route went past Bismarck's federal building, which houses multiple federal offices. The group stopped in front of the building and called out U.S. Attorney for the District of North Dakota Drew Wrigley, whose office reviewed the FBI's investigation into Gipp's death.
In a statement to The Forum earlier this week, the U.S. attorney's office in North Dakota said the FBI "completed a thorough investigation."
"It was determined that criminal charges against the officers involved were not warranted," the statement read.
Henry Gipp said that he has reached out multiple times to the U.S. Attorney's office and has not received a reply.
"Wrigley, we need to talk," he said in front of the federal office building.
Throughout the march, temperatures were in the upper 80s, and the demonstrators handed out waters and snacks to each other. Henry Gipp said the hot weather, nor any other inconvenience, will stop him from calling out for justice for his brother.
"I will sacrifice what I need to sacrifice for the truth to come out," Henry Gipp said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Michelle Griffith, a Report for America corps member, at email@example.com.