South Dakota, ACLU settle lawsuit over ‘riot-boosting’ laws

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — South Dakota’s governor said Thursday that the state has agreed not to enforce aspects of laws that critics say were meant to suppress expected protests against the Keystone XL pipeline, under a settlement with a group that challenged the laws as unconstitutional.

Republican Gov. Kristi Noem said in a statement that as part of the state’s settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union, she agreed not to enforce the parts of the laws that made it a crime to direct or encourage others to “riot.”

The ACLU sued over the laws, saying they infringed on free speech rights. And a federal judge last month granted the group’s request for a temporary injunction that blocked enforcement of aspects of the laws that allowed the state to pursue criminal or civil penalties against demonstrators who engage in so-called riot boosting, which the laws defined in part as encouraging violence during a riot. The settlement agreement makes that injunction permanent.

Stephen Pevar, the ACLU’s lead attorney for the lawsuit, lauded the agreement, saying the state had clearly overstepped when passing the laws.

“They went way further than just preventing violence, they sought to inhibit speech,” he said.

In her statement, Noem emphasized that rioting is still a crime and said she is “focused on preserving law and order while protecting the rights to free speech and peaceful assembly.”

The Republican-led Legislature passed the laws this year after neighbouring North Dakota dealt with months of sometimes disruptive protests over the Dakota Access oil pipeline. Noem has said the law is meant to address problems caused by “out-of-state rioters funded by out-of-state interests.”

As construction plans for the Keystone XL pipeline move forward, environmental and Native American groups have pledged to protest and challenge the construction in court. There are already legal battles in several states.

“We will celebrate this win but remain vigilant against further government attempts to outlaw our right to peacefully assemble,” said Dallas Goldtooth, who is an organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network.

The Canadian company building the pipeline plans to prepare the construction sites this year and begin construction next year. The final pipeline will stretch 1,184-miles (1,900 kilometres) and will be able to ship up to 830,000 barrels a day of Canadian crude through Montana and South Dakota to Nebraska, where it would connect with lines that can carry oil to Gulf Coast refineries. President Donald Trump has supported the $8 billion project.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fracking caused March 2019 earthquake near Sylvan Lake, say scientists

4.18 earthquake south of Sylvan Lake rattled doors and windows as far as Red Deer

Possible Red Deer cougar sighting creating a stir

Many have posted their own cougar stories online since Advocate story ran last Friday

Red Deer’s emergency management team is watching to learn how Newfoundland handles its massive snowfall

“We’ve had extreme snowfalls before,” says co-ordinator Karen Mann — and will again

Red Deer city council wants answers before re-zoning for women’s shelter expansion

Is the creek escarpment stable enough for construction?

Soldiers trade rifles for snow shovels to help dig out St. John’s

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Military personnel armed with shovels spread out across… Continue reading

WATCH: Canadian kid shovelling snow video goes viral

Rory might just be Canada’s most popular toddler right now, thanks to… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Jan. 22 Downtown House Senior Center (5414 43 St.) in Red Deer… Continue reading

David Marsden: Warm tales about the cold

The recent deep freeze has rocked all of us. Every Red Deer… Continue reading

Soldiers trade rifles for snow shovels to help dig out St. John’s

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Military personnel armed with shovels spread out across… Continue reading

Canadian airlines feel the pressure of flight-shaming and the ‘Greta effect’

MONTREAL — Swedish may not be the lingua franca of the aviation… Continue reading

Trump thanks farmers for backing him through China trade war

AUSTIN, Texas — President Donald Trump thanked farmers Sunday for supporting him… Continue reading

CETA can serve as template for post-Brexit Canada-U.K. trade deal

CALGARY — Canada’s trade agreement with the European Union should serve as… Continue reading

MEC cuts costs, boosts perks in effort to turn around struggling retailer

VANCOUVER — Mountain Equipment Co-op is making major changes as it “needs… Continue reading

Most Read