News Release

Indigenous Environmental Network

ACLU South Dakota

Today, June 12, the U.S. District Court in Rapid City will hear the case that challenges three South Dakota laws, including the newly-enacted “Riot Boosting” Act, that threaten advocates who encourage or organize protests – like protests against the Keystone XL pipeline or mining in the Black Hills – with fines, civil liabilities, and/or criminal penalties of up to 25 years in prison.

This case impacts so many people – activists, water protectors, organizations, and others. Before the lawyers make their arguments in front of the judge on Wednesday, Dakota Rural Action, NDNCollective, Black Hills Clean Water Alliance, the Indigenous Environmental Network, the Sierra Club South Dakota, the ACLU of South Dakota, and other organizers are gathering for a day of peaceful action. (Note: All times below are Central Daylight Time Today)

Actions - June 12, 2019

11:30 a.m. – more poster making at NDN Collective, 317 Main St.

12:30 p.m. – formal gathering begins with pre-march prayers and drumming at NDN Collective

1 p.m. – march from NDN Collective to the U.S. Courthouse

1:15 p.m. – rally begins at the U.S. Courthouse, 515 Ninth St., with speakers from each organization and a pre-hearing prayer

2:15 p.m. – Start entering the courthouse to fill up the hearing room

3 p.m. – hearing begins in Room 301 of the Andrew W. Bogue Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse, 515 9th St.

WATCH the RALLY on Indigenous Rising Media's Facebook Page

1:15 p.m. CDT - Click here.

ACLU_Our voices wont be silenced

This hearing is our opportunity to stand up in front of the judge and argue the plaintiff’s case. Up until now, both sides have been submitting written briefs to the judge asking him to rule on the case in general and specific sub-issues within the case.

What will the ACLU be arguing at the hearing?

On behalf of the plaintiffs, the ACLU is asking Judge Piersol for a preliminary injunction – to make a ruling that there is enough of a likelihood that the challenged laws (the Riot Boosting Act and two criminal laws with similar language) are unconstitutional and to block the state from enforcing the anti-protest laws as the case goes forward. If this happens, the plaintiffs (and anyone else) can continue to prep for protests surrounding the Keystone XL pipeline or mining in the Black Hills without fear of penalty as long as the injunction is in place. 

What will the defendants be arguing at the hearing?

The defendants are asking for judgement on the pleadings, arguing that the laws are constitutional and that the court should throw out our entire case because none of our arguments have any merit. 

Read all the legal documents here.

The defendants have also asked that, if the court thinks there is a chance that the challenged laws are unconstitutional, the state Supreme Court should have the first opportunity to interpret the laws and decide whether they are constitutional.

Sheriff Thom of Pennington County is requesting the judge dismiss the lawsuit against him, arguing that his job is to enforce state laws not create those laws. The ACLU says Thom has discretion over how to enforce the law. The ACLU named Thom in the lawsuit because protests regarding the Keystone XL pipeline could take place near Rapid City.  

Who is involved in this case?  

The ACLU is representing four organizations and two individuals (collectively known as the plaintiffs) who are planning to protest the Keystone XL pipeline and/or encourage others to do so:

The defendants

  • Kristi Noem, in her official capacity as South Dakota governor
  • Jason Ravnsborg, in his official capacity as South Dakota attorney general
  • Kevin Thom, in his official capacity as sheriff of Pennington County

The judge who will preside over the hearing is the Honorable Lawrence L. Piersol.

Image: Rapid City Journal Letters to the Editor June 11, 2019

When will a decision be made? What happens next?

That’s up to Judge Piersol. It is extremely unlikely, but he could decide to rule on some or all of these motions on Wednesday. It is more likely that he will wait to issue a written ruling over the next few days, weeks or months. All we can do is wait and see!

How can I get involved? 

This case impacts so many people, activists, Water Protectors, organizations, and others. Many of the organizations involved are putting together several events to bring attention to this case – and how impactful it could be for people’s ability to fight for issues like climate change, to protect water, and defend the land.

Stay up to date at the Facebook Event Page.

Indigenous Environmental Network, ACLU South Dakota