More than 40 people, mainly Native American and Hispanic, gathered together Monday in front of the Carson City Courthouse to show their support for Rocky Boice Jr., the first defendant to be tried in the death of Sammy Resendiz.
The group gathered to express their belief that the 10 people who allegedly killed Sammy Resendiz in a hotel room in 1998 are only on trial because they are Native Americans.
Wanbli Watakpe, known as Russ Redner, founder of the American Indian Movement in Northern California, traveled from the Bay area to express his belief that the 10 Native American defendants are innocent.
Redner called the case a "lynch mob," and said most of the Carson City community had already convicted the defendants in their minds.
"Nothing in this country is fair and just for the Native Americans," Redner said. "We face intimidation on a daily basis."
He accused Carson City Sheriff Rod Banister of using the defendants to get reelected in 1998, and said he believed the defendants were not part of a gang, but labeled as such by Banister.
Half of the group were representatives from Native American and Hispanic civil rights groups in California.
They lined the wall outside the courthouse holding two large signs. At one end, several people held a sign which read, "Free the Carson 10," and at the other end, another sign read the same in Spanish,"Libertad para los Carson 10."
None of the defendants in the case is in custody.
Redner said they wanted to show there were no conflicts between the Hispanic and Native American communities.
The other half of the supporters were friends and relatives of the defendants.
Rocky Boice Sr., father of the defendant, was outside the courthouse with the other supporters.
He said it had been scary to see his son become the first defendant to go on trial.
"He was stuck out there to stand by himself," he said.
Boice Sr. did not go into the courthouse Monday, but instead he chose to remain outside with the other supporters of his son.
"The warriors needed to be outside," Boice Sr. said.
He agreed with Redner, and said the war was not between the Native Americans and Hispanics. It was against justice, he said.
"The Latin people and Indian people are standing together as one," Boice Sr. said.
Jean Voight, a friend of the Boice family, also joined the supporters. She said she believed there was a lot more to the case than the public knew about.
"It was a terrible accident," she said."But it was not intentional. Rocky is not a violent person. They're all gentle people."
The group remained outside the courthouse for more than an hour Monday, some crying, others playing Native American ceremonial songs to pray for the defendants.
Redner said many people in the group were prepared to come back and stay when the trial begins at the end of August.