BILLINGS – Montana bull riding world champion Jess Lockwood and his brother Jake are facing criticism after insensitive messages from their Twitter accounts were posted Monday disparaging Native Americans.
One day after the PBR World Finals concluded in Las Vegas, where Jess Lockwood was competing, a tweet was sent from his verified Twitter account that read: “So Jake literally pissed his pants laughing at this rezzer that stopped us outside the Indian depot,” followed by a laughing emoji with tears streaming down its face.
One minute later, a tweet was posted from the account of Jake Lockwood that read: “Drunk rezzer- can i ask you a favor? Me- ya what do you need? Drunk rezzer- what do i need?…i got water! #noDAPL #WaterIsLife”
Both tweets have since been deleted, but not before other Twitter users noticed and captured screen grabs.
#noDAPL is a hashtag that was popular during protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota, which galvanized tribes from around the region in support of the Standing Rock Sioux’s claims their water quality was threatened.
#WaterIsLife was another popular hashtag from those protest in 2016 and 2017
Jess Lockwood, who grew up in Volborg just east of the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation and whose family still lives there, became the youngest PBR World Champion in history last November at age 20. The year before he earned Rookie of the Year honors in the PBR. He has earned more than $1 million and on Sunday finished 12th in the year-end standings.
As world champion and rookie of the year, Lockwood has been a high-profile face of the PBR for the past two years.
Jake Lockwood started his PBR career earlier this year on the Touring Pro Division. The younger brother attended Powder River County High School in Broadus where he played football, basketball, wrestled and was a fourth-place finisher in the 200-meter race at Class C’s state track and field meet.
A phone message left for Jess Lockwood was not returned.
Responses to both postings on Twitter were sharp.
Native Americans have always been a big supporter for all rodeos and PBR events and for you to say something so immature and disrespectful is appalling. I hope @PBR make sure this doesn’t happen again.
— gary (@gjbegay) November 13, 2018
— Jerilene Salabiye (@RopingMonster) November 13, 2018
@jesslockwood2 you can delete these tweets but they will be forever. You’re a racist insensitive little teenager who needs to learn from his mistakes.
A “Rezzer”, A College Student, A Decent Human Being. pic.twitter.com/xgpqA82FWU
— Hi Im Leo (@RedHair42) November 14, 2018
@PBR i didn’t know it was okay to be openly racist, especially when you have some amazing Native American riders who have to ride and work along side him. If he can be this open about it, I can only imagine what he says behind closed doors.
— Tallia Jim (@TalleeeeA) November 13, 2018
.@jesslockwood2 Shane Proctor is from my hometown, his parents were my teachers throughout HS. They always treated us #rezzers w/dignity & respect. You'd best serve yourself if you got out a dictionary, look up ”dignity” & ”respect” then figure out how to treat all people w/it. pic.twitter.com/uxl2tC4x26
— Michelle Shining Elk (Untamed) 🌊 (@MShiningElk) November 14, 2018
When contacted by Montanasports.com the PBR issued this media release:
“PBR is aware of an inappropriate comment made on social media by Jess Lockwood. Jess immediately apologized and is using this incident as a learning experience to educate himself further. He counts all of our Native American riders as close friends and he did not intend to hurt any member of the Native American Community. Jess has been offered and accepted an invitation to tour an Indian Reservation, where he will learn more about the extraordinary Native American culture, and teach the youngsters there about opportunities in bull riding. The PBR does not tolerate intolerance of any kind and has fined Jess an undisclosed amount with the money to be directed to a Native American charitable organization.”
When asked for clarification on who specifically Lockwood apologized to and if it was conveyed via email, phone call or publicly, PBR representative Andrew Giangola replied that Lockwood has done so “through direct messages on social media.”
The PBR just this week announced it will return to Billings in April for the 23rd consecutive year. Billings is the PBR’s longest-continuing top-tier event. Jess Lockwood earned his first top-tier event victory in Billings in 2016.
Story by Scott Breen, MTN Sports