Predictably, Rep. Kristi Noem is finding a way to turn this week’s “National Police Week” into a political ploy. In her latest e-mail to constituents, Noem says her ride-along with Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Department justifies spending more federal money (with no indication of how she would avoid increasing the deficit) and building that boondoggle Trump wall:
Needless to say, local law enforcement does a tremendous job. We, in turn, have a responsibility to give them the support and resources necessary to be safe and successful.
It was clear during my visit that drug trafficking and use has contributed greatly to the spike in violent crimes. While South Dakota sits more than a thousand miles from Mexico, Sheriff Mike Milstead estimated that around 90 percent of the state’s meth and heroin comes from south of the border. Simply put, we need to build robust physical and technological barriers at the U.S.-Mexico border. In addition to a border wall, I’ve cosponsored legislation that would deploy up to 10,000 more National Guard personnel to the border and allow law enforcement to go after the so-called “spotters” that drug traffickers use to avert officers at the border.
But a stronger border isn’t the only thing that must be done. This week, as we mark National Police Week, the House will be voting on a series of bills that support our men and women in blue – from helping departments staff up to supporting them in acquiring new technologies [Rep. Kristi Noem, e-mail, 2017.05.16].
Noem also takes the requisite shot at Marty Jackley, repeating the FBI stat showing our violent crime rate doubling over the past decade. At the moment, Jackley doesn’t sound too worried: he is promoting the fall Aging Gracefully Expo. Then again, neither does Noem, as she closes her email by stating, “The truth is there’s no other place I’d dream of raising my family than here….”
It’s kind of tough to fly the fear flag and the rose-colored glasses in the same campaign message, but no tougher for Kristi Noem than playing a conservative Republican while proposing bigger, more expensive government.
Note that the bond on Sideras is $10,000, four times the bond slapped on Ehab Jaber. The court apparently feels that a man accused of possessing child porn is a greater threat than a man accused of making a terroristic threat.
Sideras, like all defendants in America, is innocent until proven guilty. The charges, if they have merit, do not appear to involve any public corruption that would implicate Huether or other city officials.
When it comes to the recent vandalism in Aberdeen, Tennant said, residents have no way of knowing what was going through the mind of the person who painted the symbols. There’s no context, just a swastika painted on a wall.
“It’s just plain property damage,” he said.
While the swastika has a history that’s both positive and negative, Tennant said, graffiti on the side of a building is not positive.
No context? We live in a time and place where the swastika is universally recognized as a symbol of evil. We aren’t talking about the 90-year-old pre-World War II Native American symbols worked into the brick and tile of the Hotel Alex Johnson. We are talking about some punk who wanted to torque people off. He (yes, I’m assuming young and male) could have chosen any number of other graphics to rile the public—horned demons, f-words, middle fingers, penises, doobage, peace signs, Muslim stars and crescents. Instead, Herr Schpraymeister reached for the obvious go-to symbol of racial and religious hate. Even if our graffitist is just young and stupid, the only reason the swastika echoes in his young and stupid noggin is his absorption of willingness to ape cultural expressions of bigotry. He didn’t just damage property—he spread hate.
The Iowa City Police Department on Wednesday released the preliminary results of Wieseler’s autopsy. The cause of death was determined to be a gunshot wound and the manner of death was determined to be homicide, authorities said.
Police do not have anyone in custody, but believe Wieseler’s death is an “isolated incident,” they said in a news release [Lee Hermiston, “Police: Jonathan Wieseler Was Shot to Death,” Cedar Rapids Gazette, 2017.04.26].
The Iowa City PD statement suggests the shooting took place between 10 p.m. Saturday and 3 a.m. Sunday. It also notes that the FBI is participating in the murder investigation. Why would the FBI be involved in investigating a single, isolated murder in Iowa?
The Bureau concentrates on crime problems that pose major threats to American society. Significant violent crime incidents such as mass killings, sniper murders, and serial killings can paralyze entire communities and stretch state and local law enforcement resources to their limits. And particular investigative emphasis is put on criminal street gangs, crimes against children, child prostitution, bank robberies and other violent robberies, carjackings, kidnappings, fugitives and missing persons, crimes on Indian reservations, and assaults and threats of assault on the president and other federal officials [“What We Investigate: Violent Crime,” Federal Bureau of Investigation, retrieved 2017.04.27].
Murder can be a federal crime in various circumstances, including murder for hire and murders related to rape, child molestation, sexual exploitation of children, drugs, and bank robbery
Justice Department guidelines say “The FBI may provide investigative assistance to state, local, or tribal agencies in the investigation of matters that may involve federal crimes or threats to the national security, or for such other purposes as may be legally authorized.” Federal law authorizes FBI cooperation with state and local agencies in investigations of…
As we know, Attorney General Marty Jackley has charged Ehab Jaber with one count of making a terrorist threat. Being a Muslim gun owner’s lawyer will likely be a thankless task… but it may also be an easy win. Let’s review the charge, the law, the arrest affidavit, and the evidence, and see just how flimsy the terrorist threat charge may be.
In his April 21 complaint, Attorney General Marty Jackley says the defendant violated SDCL 22-8-13:
Highlighting the key language from the relevant statutes, the Attorney General contends the defendant “threaten[ed] to commit a crime of violence… with the intent to intimidate or coerce a civilian population.” Making such a terrorist threat is a Class 5 felony—five years, $10K fine, max. The Attorney General’s invocation of the language about “chemical, biological, or radioactive material, or any explosive or destructive device” seems out of place; Jaber displayed none of those items, only firearms, which SDCL 22-1-2 distinguishes from “destructive device” and “explosive.” The more language in SDCL 22-1-2(9) that might describe the defendant’s allegedly threatened crime of violence is “murder, manslaughter,… or any other felony in the commission of which the perpetrator used force, or was armed with a dangerous weapon….”
In the following affidavit in support of the arrest warrant, Sergeant Sean Kooistra of the Sioux Falls Police Department explains what he saw during his interaction with the defendant on April 9 and his subsequent review of three videos on the defendant’s Facebook page.
In paragraph 2, the officer describes the subject entering a parking lot, parking, backing out, driving quickly (but not, apparently, illegally) toward another lot, and parking. The officer deems this behavior “suspicious” but cites no threat.
Paragraph 3 describes no threat, only legal exercise of First and Second Amendment rights.
Paragraph 4 indicates the defendant was evasive about his name but not about the fact that he was armed or that he was recording the event. The officer says the encounter ended without incident.
Paragraph 6 describes on online video in which the defendant makes no threat.
Watch that video at the bottom of my Monday post. “If you really want to be scared,” the defendant says before displaying any of his weapons, placing his entire display in the conditional. He does not point any of the weapons at the camera. He does not hold any of the weapons in a ready-to-shoot gesture. He displays ammunition but loads none of it in his weapons; instead, he places the ammunition back in the storage compartment in his vehicle.
His final words on the video are “This is f—ing bulls—.” He conducts this entire tirade while wearing a t-shirt that (as acknowledged by the officer in paragraph 8) clearly says, “I am only dangerous if you are stupid.”
The defendant says not one word in this video that indicates an intent to fire any of his weapons at anyone at the anti-Islamic event from which he was ejected or at anyone else. Simply, the defendant issues no threat, either verbal or physical. Rather, the defendant mocks those who would consider him a threat.
Paragraph 9 describes a third video in which the defendant describes his perception of the fear felt by the people attending the April 9 event and by the whole of “white America.” This video makes no threat; it shows the defendant’s belief that fear already runs rampant in society and his perception that such fear deserves mockery.
That’s all the evidence the affidavit presents. No evidence shows the defendant engaging in a crime of violence or preparing to commit a crime of violence. The evidence shows the defendant engaging in entirely legal conduct and expressing disdain for, if not disbelief at, the fear his legal conduct and his mere presence appear to arouse in other citizens.
If the above evidence is all the state has, the state had better drop the terrorism charge fast and focus on the meth charge.
The death of a man found dead in an Iowa City bail bonds office — identified by friends as a local bail bondsman — is being treated as a homicide.
Iowa City police responded to Lederman Bail Bonds, 518 S. Capitol St., at 11:11 a.m. Sunday after a body was found inside. On Monday, police said the man — who they are not yet identifying — had “multiple sources of trauma.”
“Based on the evidence thus far discovered at 518 South Capitol St., and the known circumstances surrounding the death of the subject, the department’s Investigations Unit is treating this case as a homicide,” the police department said in a news release [Lee Hermiston, “Death of Iowa City Bail Bondsman Being Treats as Homicide,” Cedar Rapids Gazette, 2017.04.24].
Meanwhile in South Dakota, the state has let EB-5 czar Joop Bollen off with non-punitive settlements of lawsuits and a $2,000 plea bargain in the only criminal case to arise from our EB-5 scandal. EB-5 watchdog David North finds the South Dakota prosecutions surprisingly weak compared to Vermont’s:
Meanwhile, in a somewhat parallel case in South Dakota, the one other state that had, for a while, a state entity serving as the regional center, there has been no such relief. If anything the South Dakota case was much more egregious than the one in Vermont.
More money was lost or stolen, more projects failed, the state’s political leaders were deeply involved in some aspects of the case, a key player was found dead (his shotgun wound in the stomach was ruled a suicide by the State’s Attorney General), a mysterious multi-million-dollar payment was made to a bank account in Cyprus owned by a Russian railroad oligarch, and a state criminal indictment of another key play, Joop Bollen, ended with an extremely generous plea bargain including no jail time and a $2,000 fine, as has been previously reported (see here and here) [David North, “Big Finance Firms Pony Up in Vt. EB-5 Case — Nothing Similar in S.D.,” Center for Immigration Studies, 2017.04.14].
North cocks an eyebrow at South Dakota’s U.S. Attorney Randy Seiler for taking no action on South Dakota’s EB-5 scandal. We’ll see what voters think of state Attorney General Marty Jackley’s relatively gentle treatment of South Dakota’s EB-5 scandal compared to Vermont’s more vigorous prosecution of EB-5 improprieties.
Bonus Political Connection: Don’t forget—Donald Trump appears to have profited from the Vermont EB-5 scandal: among Quiros’s many challenged expenditures is a $2.2-million condo in Trump Tower New York. It remains to be seen whether anyone can connect the dots from South Dakota’s EB-5 program through Northern Beef Packers, Ultracare Holdings Limited of Cyprus that received $1.5 million from NBP, and Ultracare’s Russian owner Globaltrans Investment Inc. to Donald Trump’s friends in Russia.
I think the last we heard from A.G. Jackley on Amendment S was his second opinion on the new amendment (Article 6, Section 29) stating that it does not apply to civil court proceedings, local ordinance violations, or minor traffic violations. Jackley’s February 9 opinion also states that Sexual Assault Response Teams may continue to share information about victims unless victims explicitly invoke their Article 6 Section 29 rights.
Billionaire Henry T. Nicholas hasn’t dropped by to make sure Attorney General Jackley is properly implementing Nicholas’s vanity law. Nicholas has already turned his attention toward writing his skewing of due process and presumption of innocence into state law in Oklahoma, Idaho, and Maine.
Nicholas’s exploitation of our initiative process—pouring his out-of-state money into a petition drive and campaign for a ballot measure that had zero grassroots support—is one of the reasons the South Dakota Legislature passed House Bill 1141 to create an interim task force to study and propose reforms the initiative and referendum process. (The other main reason is to come up with more tricks to deny voters their right to pass laws.) Nicholas has provoked a similar response in North Dakota, where the Legislature is considering a similar study of initiative and referendum (see ND Senate Bill 2135). Let’s hope we voters don’t become victims of Nicholas’s big-money vanity campaign for crime victims.
* * *
U.S. Attorney Randy Seiler will be hosting a public meeting on crime victims rights in Pine Ridge on Thursday. According to the re-emergent Bob Mercer, speakers will include “Oglala Sioux Tribe president Troy Weston; victim witness program national coordinator Darlene Averick from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Modoc County (Calif.) Sheriff Mike Poindexter, who lost four tribal members including the tribal chairman in a shooting at a tribal council meeting during 2014; Cheryl “Renee” Bourque, a federal Bureau of Indian Affairs official who lost two close friends who were Native American in a shooting at the Seminole, OK, sheriff office; and Frank Kelsey from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, who will discuss gun violence, the nature of the problem and how to avert the consequences.”
The crime statistics reflect that, overall, South Dakota remains a safe place to live as a result of strong community involvement and law enforcement efforts. Many categories of crime, including murder, rape, and sexual offenses were down in 2016. However, the national drug epidemic continues to impact overall crime in South Dakota, with drug offense alone increasing 12.5% in 2016…. Law enforcement agencies are aggressively fighting crime in South Dakota…. Local, county and state agencies in our state have added over three hundred more certified officers since 2007, which has also resulted in more arrests to keep our neighborhoods and cities safe [Attorney General Marty Jackley, press release, 2017.03.20].
The report says 37.8% of crimes occurred at homes or apartments and 22.5% happened on the road. 6.5% happened in parking lots and garages. 1.0% of crimes happened in government or public buildings. I can’t think of any crimes that happened in the Capitol, where legislators claim there is a pressing need for civilians to pack heat.
2.4 times as many men committed crimes as women. However, victims are split almost 50–50 between men and women.
The report counts 21 “bias-motivated” crimes—i.e., hate crimes. Targeted by those crimes were five blacks, two Indians, one Latino, one multi-racial, two gays, one lesbian, two transgender, two gender nonconformists, three folks with mental disabilities, and two atheists/agnostics. (The foolish conclusion here would be that in 2016, atheist bloggers faced twice as much risk of facing a hate crime in South Dakota as Hispanics or lesbians.)
Only 36 crimes—0.07% of the 53,190 reported Group A offenses—involved gangs. 530 serious crimes involved use of a firearm; 523 involved use of a knife or other cutting incident (stats don’t break down offenses committed with broadswords or epees, alas).
Thieves swiped $23.7 million worth of property in 2016. Law enforcement recovered only 31% of those ill-gotten goods, worth $7.4 million. Maybe Kristi could campaign on the need to bring that percentage up… although the national rate of recovery for stolen property in 2015 was 26.1%, so Marty could argue he’s done a better job of bringing back the booty than cops elsewhere.
South Dakota attorney general’s office spokeswoman Sara Rabern confirmed one incident of what she called “felony vandalism” southeast of Sioux Falls on Friday. Lincoln County Sheriff’s Deputy Chad Brown said it happened at an above-ground valve site that had no fencing or other security.
“When deputies arrived, they observed what appeared to be a hole in the pipe, and it looked like there was burn around the hole,” Brown said, adding it was possible the vandalism was done with a blowtorch.
In Iowa, Mahaska County Sheriff Russell Van Renterghem said it appears someone used a torch to cut a hole in the pipeline at an above-ground safety valve site southeast of Des Moines. He said it appears the culprit maneuvered under a fence around the facility. The incident was discovered March 13 [Blake Nicholson, “State Officials Confirm Dakota Access Oil Pipeline Vandalism,” AP via Rapid City Journal, 2017.03.21].
Spokesman Jay O’Hara of Climate Direct Action, a group that tried vandalizing pipeline equipment last October, says his group isn’t behind these Dakota Access incidents but then tries to make excuses for dangerous criminal behavior:
[Professor Kerry] Sundberg said “it’s stupid and dangerous” to tamper with pipeline shut-off valves.
…Sundberg also said that it’s ironic for people who say they’re concerned about the environment to take an action that could cause an environmental disaster.
But O’Hara said: “The hypocrisy really lies in the pipeline corporations who say their pipelines are safe, say leaks don’t happen. They blame activists who are trying to stop global cataclysm by taking action to point out what they do every day, which is leak and spill” [Blake Nicholson and Steve Karnowski, “Dakota Access Pipeline Vandalism Highlights Sabotage Risks,” AP via ABC News, 2017.03.21].
No, no, no, Mr. O’Hara. Violating private property is wrong when Energy Transfer Partners and other pipeliners do it to build their pipelines; it’s just as wrong when pipeline opponents do it for their own cause.
We have the regulatory process. We have the courts, We have elections. We even have civil disobedience, speech acts that call all parties to conscientious objection but subject nothing to the risk of physical harm except perhaps the protestors themselves at the hands of police and private goons.
But we cannot resort to vandalism or vigilantism, not if we want to maintain the moral high ground.