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Federal court blocks South Dakota laws suppressing pipeline protests

A federal court blocked enforcement of the unconstitutional provisions of several South Dakota laws, including the recently-enacted “Riot Boosting” Act, that threaten activists who encourage or organize protests, particularly protests of the Keystone XL pipeline, with fines, civil liabilities, and/or criminal penalties of up to 25 years in prison, on Wednesday, Sept. 18.

In granting plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction, U.S. District Judge Lawrence L. Piersol wrote: “Imagine that if these riot boosting statutes were applied to the protests that took place in Birmingham, Alabama, what might be the result? … Dr. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference could have been liable under an identical riot boosting law[.]”

The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU of South Dakota on behalf of four organizations: the Sierra Club, NDN Collective, Dakota Rural Action, and the Indigenous Environmental Network; and two individuals: Nick Tilsen with NDN Collective and Dallas Goldtooth with Indigenous Environmental Network. All are currently protesting or planning to protest the Keystone XL pipeline and/or encouraging others to do so.

“The so-called ‘Riot Boosting’ Act was clearly intended to suppress constitutionally-protected, peaceful protests of the Keystone XL pipeline,” said Stephen Pevar, senior staff attorney in the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program. “We’re glad the court recognized that these vague and overbroad laws threaten the First Amendment rights of South Dakotans on every side of the issue.”

South Dakota’s “Riot Boosting” Act joins a recently growing number of government efforts to stifle protests, particularly those led by Indigenous and environmental activists, often in opposition to pipelines.

“As Dakota, it is our duty to protect the land and water,” said Dallas Goldtooth, Indigenous Environmental Network, “ and speaking up on behalf of these sacred elements is essential to that endeavor. This decision is a good step in protecting our right to organize, educate and promote a sustainable future for all generations of life.”

John Harter, Dakota Rural Action board chair said, “Our opposition to the pipeline construction may agitate Gov. Noem, but the First Amendment guarantees us the right to make our voices heard. We’re thrilled that the state is blocked from enforcing the anti-protest laws as the case goes forward. The government has dismissed Native Americans, South Dakota farmers and ranchers and others who oppose the Keystone XL pipeline, but the pipeline, if constructed, would have a substantial impact on all of our lives.”

Additional information about the ACLU’s First Amendment challenge to South Dakota’s anti-protest laws is available at https://www.aclu.org/blog/free-speech/rights-protesters/south-dakota-legislature-has-invented-new-legal-term-target.

ACLU of South Dakota is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of civil liberties and civil rights. The ACLU of South Dakota is part of a three-state chapter that also includes North Dakota and Wyoming. The team in South Dakota is supported by staff in those states.

Halloween costume give-away is ‘frightfully’ successful

The advertised Halloween free-for-all put on by the Pierre Elks Lodge and Riverfront Broadcasting saw, conservatively, more than 200 people collecting free costumes and make-up.

Though open to everyone, the Sept. 18 event was more for kid’s ages five to 12. Tables and more tables, and a long retaining wall, all across the street from Georgia Morse Middle School at 300 E Capital were covered with donated items.

Starting at 2 p.m., it was not long before all the items were gone, with Elks members controlling the joyous chaos to the best of their ability.

According to Elks leader Steve Wegman, much of the supplies — costumes, hair paint and other make-up — had been donated by anonymous providers.

“We started out with three pallets that were stacked at least 10 feet high with product,” said Wegman. “All the product moved. By 4:15 p.m. the last item was gone. You couldn’t pick a better day. It was truly a hit.”

“Some people could not believe that we were actually giving stuff away, with no strings attached,” exclaimed Wegman. He added that the number one item sought was glitter hair spray, then dangling eyes and vampire teeth.

“If the Elks will host another similar event next year depends on if we get donations of product,” said Wegman. “Maybe we can do recycling of gently-used costumes. We will help in any way we can, as always.”

Sinatra and Company performing in Highmore

Sinatra and Company will present “That Holiday Feeling,” Saturday, Nov. 23, at the Hyde County Memorial Auditorium in Highmore.

The show features Colleen Raye, Tim Patrick and Debbie O’Keefe, along with their 10-piece Blue Eyes Band.

Proceeds from the show benefit the Hyde County Nutrition Program in Highmore. Ticket options include dinner and the show, or just the show. For ticket information, contact Billy Brueggeman at Amber Waves Floral, 605-852-2880.

The performance is a fun-filled variety show featuring the talents of award winning vocalist Tim Patrick, accomplished singer and producer Colleen Raye and top-notch big band vocalist Debbie O’Keefe. Each brings their own brand of talent and charisma to the stage.

Included are renditions of old favorites, such as songs from the Andy Williams Collection, (Happy Holiday, Most Wonderful Time of The Year), Karen Carpenter (Merry Christmas Darling), Bing Crosby and The Andrews Sisters (Jingle Bells), Nat King Cole (The Christmas Song), Kenny Rogers and Wynonna Judd (Mary Did You Know?) and Frank Sinatra (No Place Like Home For The Holidays). There will also be sing a-longs, audience participation and classic holiday tunes like Joy to The World, Ring Those Christmas Bells, Oh Holy Night, The Little Drummer Boy (as done by The Temptations) and more.

This good natured group of singers and musicians makes everyone feel at home the minute the show starts and it’s a sure fire guarantee people will go home with “That Holiday Feeling.”

Names released In Brown County fatal crash

ABERDEEN, S.D. – Nicholas Fettig of Aberdeen has been identified as the person who died late Sunday night in a single-vehicle rollover crash seven miles west of Aberdeen.

A 2014 Polaris Ranger 900XP four-wheeler was northbound on 378th Avenue, which is a gravel road. The driver lost control turning onto 132nd Street, causing the vehicle to roll.

The deceased, 37, was thrown from the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene. The other occupant, 34-year-old Dustin Steiha of Aberdeen, suffered serious non-life threatening injuries and was transported to an Aberdeen hospital.

It is unknown at this time who was driving the vehicle. Seatbelt use by the two occupants also is under investigation.

South Dakota’s Highway Patrol continues to investigate the crash. All information is preliminary at this time.

The Highway Patrol is part of the South Dakota Department of Public Safety.

Fall 'seasoned citizen' programs include workouts

Pierre’s Recreation Department’s ‘seasoned citizen’ programming for this fall starts Sept. 30.

Classes include Tai Chi, Zumba Gold, and chair workouts. The classes run through mid-December and are open to all senior citizens. All classes are free to members of the Pierre Area Senior Center. Residents of Parkwood Apartments have access to free chair workout classes. All the programs are designed to help senior citizens gain balance and core strength. Register for the classes at the first session.

For detailed class schedules and list of fees, visit cityofpierre.org or pick up a brochure at the YMCA or the Pierre Area Senior Center. For more information, contact miindy.cheap@ci.pierre.sd.us, 605.773.7445 or stop by the City Recreation Office at the Pierre YMCA.