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Would Kristi Noem Sue Donald Trump for Riot Boosting in South Dakota?

In the last two Legislative Sessions, Governor Kristi Noem made a really big deal about trying to pre-empt protests of the Keystone XL Pipeline (which still doesn’t exist) by creating the crime of “riot boosting.” She rushed a 2019 bill through the Legislature, only to see her hasty lawmaking collapse under judicial scrutiny. The Governor followed up in 2020 with a revised bill to stifle peaceful protest. Thanks to Senator Lee Schoenbeck’s (R-5/Watertown) crafty legislating, she got two “riot-boosting” bills to sign.

Schoenbeck’s hoghouse revision of 2020 House Bill 1199 removed the term “riot boosting” from Noem’s legislation in favor of the term we already had, incitement to riot. Schoenbeck’s bill put this definition of “incitement to riot” into SDCL 20-9-53:

[A]ny person who, with the intent to cause a riot, commits an act or engages in conduct that urges three or more people, acting together and without authority of law, to use force or violence to cause any injury to any person or any damage to property, under circumstances in which the force or violence is imminent and the urging is likely to incite or produce the use of force or violence, incites riot. Urging includes instigating, inciting, or directing, but does not include the oral or written advocacy of ideas or expression of belief that does not urge the commission of an act or conduct of imminent force or violence [SDCL 20-9-53, amended 2020].

Noem’s bill made incitement to riot a Class 5 felony. Both Noem’s and Schoenbeck’s bills also made inciters of riot—the riot boosters who so alarmed Noem—”personally liable… to the state or a political subdivision in an action for damages….”

No riot has erupted yet along the still mostly empty Keystone XL route to test these statutes.

But these statutes and our Governor’s commitment to their creation suggests she is keenly concerned about maintaining civil order. She brought her riot-boosting/incitement legislation in response to concerns that a foreign pipeline company‘s drive for profit might be disrupted by Indians, environmentalists, and other private citizens acting to oppose that private project they way they temporarily disrupted the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota.

So what will Governor Noem do if the Trumpists planning protests (armed occupations?) of statehouses around the country in the coming days get cranky and start breaking things in Pierre? To what standard will Governor Noem hold Donald Trump, the man who told the first wave of his brownshirts who defiled the United States Capitol on January 6 that he loves them and considers them very special, and whose five years of angry exhortations to violent action are now bearing fruit amidst the death throes of his regime? If the goons gathering under Trump’s banner start throwing punches, will Governor Noem direct Trump elector Jason Ravnsborg to charge Trump with riot boosting? Will individuals harmed by these Trumpist thugs in South Dakota be able to sue their leader in Mar-a-Lago for damages due to his incitement?

Senator Lee Schoenbeck has said Trump incited last week’s insurrection. What if he incites one here in South Dakota? Will we apply Schoenbeck’s and Noem’s law to protect democracy as fervently as our Governor would apply it to protect a pipeline?

I’d really rather not have the opportunity to test this law on Trump and his shock troops. I’d rather he just quit, shut up, and go golf for the rest of his life behind a really high fence where he can incite no one.

But if Trumpists commit violence in Trump’s name in South Dakota, they should be aware that we have laws on the books that would subject their Dear Leader to serious legal and financial liability… thanks to one of Trump’s remaining favorites, Kristi Noem.

Related Reading: Senator Mike Rounds says Trump may already be subject to criminal prosecution for riot boosting:

“In my opinion, what we had was an insurrection,” said Rounds. “We had violence. We had people killed. We had a mob that ignored direct commands. They attacked law enforcement officers. They damaged federal property. They clearly intended to stop us from performing our duties in the recognition of the electoral vote count.”

Rounds cited Section 2383 of Title 18 of the U.S. code, “Rebellion or insurrection,” as the law that prosecutors could use against Trump.

“If there are (impeachment) proceedings brought against him (Trump),” said Rounds, “and even if the article of impeachment is not followed through in the Senate, if the article of impeachment to incitement of a riot or incitement of an insurrection are followed through in a criminal proceeding, that by itself would … stop him (Trump) for running for election to a public office again” [Christopher Vondracek, “South Dakota Sen. Mike Rounds Says Trump Could Be Criminally Prosecuted for His Role in the ‘Insurrection’,” Inforum, 2021.01.13].

Trump busted for riot-boosting—now that would be a riot!


  1. Loren 2021-01-13 21:24

    Now Rounds sees the evidence he was so unwilling to see in the 1st impeachment, eh? A real stalwart, that guy. But did ya’ll see Dusty’s self- righteous performance as he cried crocodile tears about not “following due process?” DUE PROCESS as the Capitol burns and legislators are hunted? Again, he came across to the nation as Opie Taylor, more a coward hiding under his desk than person of principle. (See Liz Cheney comments) Where does SD get these folks?

  2. buckobear 2021-01-14 00:00

    Our three amigos are seriously on the wrong side of history, eh ?

  3. RST Tribal member from St. Francis 2021-01-14 06:35

    The Dusty yesterday tied himself firmly to the title trumpester. SD will not have an effective representative in the House for the next two years. While campaigning he said time and time again he wants to work across the aisle for the betterment of the nation and SD. When given the chance he grabbed his leader’s shirttail and hung on. Maybe his idea of law and order is clouded, like the white nationalist in Todd and Tripp counties who were in Washington on the 6th boosting and putting pictures on Facebook until they discovered what they did was a federal crime. Now their Facebook pages reads like Sunday’s church services. Skunks might hid but you can still smell them.

  4. Mark Anderson 2021-01-14 07:38

    Who works more communally than conservatives in their desire to control. You could almost call them communist couldn’t you?

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