South Dakota Passes Bills to Prosecute Demonstrators and Supporters of Pipeline Demonstrations

South Dakota Legislature passed SB 189 and SB 190, the bills allow the state to sue protesters and their supporters and use the money to further pipeline goals. The Keystone XL pipeline is set to cross through nearly 1,200 miles of South Dakota, the TransCanada owned project will carry nearly a million barrels of crude oil a day through the state.

The bills are headed to South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem to sign, due to the bills’ emergency clauses they will become law immediately when signed. The bills allow South Dakota to prosecute pipeline demonstrators and their supporters and to use the money to fund security, surveillance and pipeline costs.

The bills were created to get ahead and snuff out any problems demonstrators might cause in slowing construction or swaying public opinion about the pipeline and its impact on communities and the environment. The bills aim to prevent a recurrence of demonstrations like #NoDAPL and ensure pipeline construction is not hindered by protest.

Representing the leaders of 16 tribes in the region, The Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association, opposed the bills. None of the tribes were consulted about the legislation.

The bills are designed to integrate public and private surveillance and security against protesters. Anti-protest laws have been passed in North Dakota following the #NoDAPL demonstrations, similar laws exist in other states, but the new South Dakota law casts a much larger net to go after the money of demonstrators and their supporters.

The new laws make up a term, “riot-boosting,” and creates financial punishments for the new term. The term covers demonstrators who participate in “riots” and anyone who “does not personally participate in any riot but directs, advises, encourages, or solicits other persons participating in the riot to acts of force or violence.” The new laws will establish the “PEACE” fund to cover expenses for the state and its counties from the pipeline with the funds taken from “riot-boosters.”



Photo: “The Dakota Access Pipeline (under construction)” by Lars Plougmann is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0