Governor Dennis Daugaard met with tribal officials last week to discuss tribal concerns with Senate Bill 176, the anti-protest law (yes, law: the Legislature included an emergency clause, even though the only “emergency” is the coming of TransCanada’s bulldozers for Keystone XL) written in reaction to the Dakota Access pipeline protest in North Dakota. That’s the meeting that Crow Creek Sioux tribal chairman Brandon Sazue said he wouldn’t attend in protest of the Governor’s racist intervention in the Dakota Access protest.
The state appears to be blowing some smoke on the actual scope of the new law:
State officials also explained that the bill’s provisions extend beyond potential protests and may be useful in other emergency situations and natural disasters [“Governor Meets with Tribal Leaders to Discuss Protest Bill,” Hub City Radio, 2017.04.03].
Other emergency situations and natural disasters? Come on—such events are not the intent of the law. As we discussed before Daugaard removed the martial-law provisions of the original draft of SB 176, the Governor already has extraordinary powers to deal with emergencies and disasters. The watered-down SB 176 only allows the Governor to kick people off public land and harass folks stopped along a road. ***Update 09:05 CDT: SB 176 does add the ability to charge individuals who enter a disaster area without authorization with Class 1 misdemeanor criminal trespass, but that only adds subsequent punishment to the immediate disaster-area powers the Governor has to forcibly detain and evacuate individuals.***
Don’t let the Governor buffalo you: SB 176 doesn’t enhance public safety in emergency situations. It seeks to turn public protest into “emergencies” that warrant police crackdowns.