Media Contact

Janna Farley,

March 5, 2020

Today, South Dakota senators voted to pass House Bill 1117, an unnecessary effort to legislate peaceful protest in South Dakota.

It’s irrefutable that House Bill 1117, like the 2019 “Riot Boosting Act” it replaces, was sparked by a desire to suppress protests around the Keystone XL pipeline. The bill creates a state of fear that pits activists and organizers exercising their First Amendment rights against government officials and law enforcement and, in fact, seems specifically designed to intimidate and dissuade people from protesting at all.

The ACLU of South Dakota opposed House Bill 1117 and is concerned that that this legislation will be applied in a manner that violates the Constitution. The ACLU of South Dakota, along with the people and organizations most directly impacted by this unnecessary legislation, would like to see a comprehensive plan that prevents the escalation of any tension between peaceful protestors and law enforcement.

“How will the State of South Dakota ensure that the rights of the people planning to peacefully protest the Keystone XL Pipeline are protected?” asked Candi Brings Plenty, indigenous justice organizer for the ACLU of South Dakota. “We will be watching to ensure the government recognizes its obligation to safeguard the civil rights of water protectors and advocates are protected, not erased.”

About the ACLU of South Dakota

Decisions made during the annual sessions of the South Dakota Legislature have a deep and lasting impact on our state’s people and communities. As new laws are created and others repealed or written, it’s important to ensure that these changes preserve and strengthen our constitutional rights.

Based in Sioux Falls, the American Civil Liberties Union 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.

The ACLU believes freedoms of press, speech, assembly, and religion, and the rights to due process, equal protection and privacy, are fundamental to a free people.  In addition, the ACLU seeks to advance constitutional protections for groups traditionally denied their rights, including people of color, women, and the LGBTQ communities. The ACLU of South Dakota carries out its work through selective litigation, lobbying at the state and local level, and through public education and awareness of what the Bill of Rights means for the people of South Dakota.