Some hothead from Maine got arrested for “criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon disorderly conduct” today in Bangor for brandishing a wooden baton and a large knife at Kristi Noem’s rally for Trump today.
Police said at some point, [Peter] Beitzell moved toward the crowd while brandishing a wooden baton and a large fixed-blade knife.
Security officers ordered Beitzell to put the weapons away, but he initially ignored them, police said.
At one point, Beitzell allegedly turned and began walking toward one of the security officers while still holding the weapons.
Eventually, Beitzell returned to his vehicle and put his weapons away. Police said they took him into custody when they arrived at the scene [“Man Arrested at Maine Trump Rally Featuring South Dakota Governor,” AP via WMTW-TV, 2020.10.28].
Go ahead and yell at Trumpists, but hey, dummy! Do not do so while waving a club and a knife! The only things you should have in your hands at a Trump rally are a good protest sign and, better yet, your phone, so you can record and tweet whatever happens.
A good phone video would help us check the details of the story, which the hothead tells a little differently even as he admits he screwed up:
Beitzell, who said he doesn’t like Trump, said things went sideways after he flipped off the Trump bus from a distance of about 50 yards (45 meters).
He said he displayed the weapons because he felt threatened by three men who approached him. One turned out to be a South Dakota police officer, but the man refused requests to show a badge, he said.
“Yes, I was an idiot,” Beitzell said. “I was a dummy who pulled a weapon, but there were three of them marching over toward me,” he added [“Man Arrested at Trump Rally with South Dakota’s Noem,” AP via ABC News, 2020.10.28].
Wait—a South Dakota police officer? In Bangor, Maine? What the…
Noem was part of a Trump campaign tour with stops planned in Maine and New Hampshire. She was traveling with a security detail from the South Dakota Highway Patrol [AP via ABC, 2020.10.28].
SDCL 32-2-12 entrusts the Division of Highway Patrol with “the enforcement of all laws, police regulations, and rules governing the operation of motor vehicles and motor carriers.” SDCL 32-2-7 authorizes to enforce “all laws, police regulations, and rules governing motor vehicles and motor carriers over and upon the highways of this state.” SDCL 32-3-8 directs agents of the Highway Patrol to arrest violators of those motor vehicle and motor carrier laws. SDCL 32-2-9 gives HP officers “the same powers with respect to the enforcement of law as sheriffs, constables, and police officers” and says HP officers “shall prevent and detect crime, apprehend criminals, enforce the criminal and traffic laws of the state, and perform such other related duties as may be legally imposed upon them.”
So tonight’s big questions:
- Can the Governor of South Dakota legally impose on officers of the South Dakota Highway Patrol a duty to travel with her to other states and serve as her personal bodyguards at political campaign rallies?
- Can our tax dollars pay for personal security of the Governor at out-of-state political events?
Perhaps relevant to answering is another frequently cited statute relating to South Daktoa campaign finance, SDCL 12-27-20, the prohibition on using public dollars to influence elections:
The state, an agency of the state, and the governing body of any county, municipality, or other political subdivision of the state may not expend or permit the expenditure of public funds for the purpose of influencing the nomination or election of any candidate, or for the petitioning of a ballot question on the ballot or the adoption or defeat of any ballot question. This section may not be construed to limit the freedom of speech of any officer or employee of the state or any political subdivision who is speaking in the officer’s or employee’s personal capacity. This section does not prohibit the state, its agencies, or the governing body of any political subdivision of the state from presenting factual information solely for the purpose of educating the voters on a ballot question [SDCL 12-27-20].
The officers themselves are not being paid to speak and directly influence the election. But they are providing the bodyguard services that our fraidy-cat Governor apparently feels she must have to step out in public in other states to make her campaign speeches. Those agents are playing a key role in the Governor’s effort to influence the election of a candidate.
Maybe that’s why, if Beitzell’s account is to be believed, one of the men who turned out to be SDHP refused to show his badge. Maybe the two HP officers (and KNBN has photos of the two South Dakota oficers snoopervising as the local uniformed police cuff Beitzell) are off duty, taking vacation time, and working as private security on Noem’s campaign dime and thus must absolutely avoid identifying themselves in any way as South Dakota police officers.
But the Department of Public Safety is recognizing Noem’s guards as on duty HP:
“Two South Dakota Highway Patrol troopers, who were serving as the Governor’s security detail on Wednesday encountered a man brandishing a weapon in an area where the Governor and others were located. The man was arrested by local authorities,” Department of Public Safety spokesman Tony Mangan said in a statement [Todd Epp, “Noem’s Security Detail Stops Assailant with Weapons at Trump Campaign Event in Maine,” KELO-FM, 2020.10.28].
So apparently the most important thing for two on-duty South Dakota Highway Patrol officers to be doing on our dime this week is not patrolling South Dakota’s highways, enforcing South Dakota’s laws, and helping South Dakotans in distress but providing “security” for one woman as she ignores her paying job and plays Presidential politics far from South Dakota.
Related Surveillance of State Resources: News Center Maine publishes this photo of Beitzell’s arrest. The Pierre Capital Journal says the two men in plain clothes on the edg
es of the photo are our South Dakota Highway Patrol officers, out enjoying their fall getaway with Covid Kristi.