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South Dakota’s First Insurrection Arrest: Seattle Man Who Moved to Sturgis After Attacking Capitol Cops

Among those buying Kristi Noem’s recruiting pitch and moving to South Dakota for Freedom was one James Haffner, age 53, a Seattle man who moved to Sturgis and got a South Dakota driver’s license shortly after January 6, 2021… on which date, according to the United States Department of Justice, Haffner and his Seattle neighbor Ronald Loehrke participated in the Trumpist insurrection against Congress.

In the early afternoon of Jan. 6, Loehrke and Haffner marched with a group along Constitution Avenue NW, towards the Capitol. Nordean was at the front of the group. Shortly after 1 p.m., Loehrke and Haffner joined a crowd that had overwhelmed a pedestrian gate and advanced toward the Capitol building, dismantling barricades along the way. Both were among the first to get past various barricades on the west side of the Capitol building. At one point, Loehrke shouted, “Don’t back down, patriots!”

Loehrke and Haffner moved to the east side of the Capitol and participated in dismantling and moving police barricades that protected the restricted area on that side of the building.  Both defendants then climbed the stairs on the Capitol’s east side and headed to the Columbus Doors. Once there, Haffner raised his hand and sprayed an aerosol substance at U.S. Capitol Police officers who were trying to guard the doors. Shortly after Haffner sprayed officers, rioters breached the doors and entered the Capitol. Once inside, Loehrke is captured on video and still photos in a confrontation with police and also inside a Senate office [U.S. Department of Justice, press release, 2021.12.03].

Loehrke and Haffner were recruited by the Seattle Proud Boys. One of the images in the FBI complaint, captured at 6:23 in this video from Albuquerque-based ABQ RAW, appears to show Haffner wearing a red Trump cap and a black shirt reading, “FREE KYLE”, a reference to now-freed killer and domestic terrorist-beloved Kyle Rittenhouse.

FBI complaint against James Haffner, filed 2021.11.30; image captured from ABBQ RAW video, Washington, DC, 2021.01.06
FBI complaint against James Haffner, filed 2021.11.30; image captured from ABBQ RAW video, Washington, DC, 2021.01.06.

DOJ has charged Haffner with obstruction of law enforcement during a civil disorder, unlawful violent entry on restricted buildings or grounds, entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, and assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers or employees. SDPB reports Haffner is the first South Dakota resident charged for participation in the January 6 insurrection.


  1. larry kurtz 2021-12-06 08:03

    It’s impossible not to notice that the white people who influence the South Dakota Republican Party continue to brainwash their own kids into cancelling culture, selling tyranny and preaching exclusivity to the voting populace. In 2017 a South Dakota school board voted unanimously to cancel homecoming activities that would have featured a football game between the Sturgis Scoopers and the Pine Ridge Thorpes after a car bearing hate speech and a symbol painted on it that some said resembled a swastika was smashed by Sturgis students.

    While incidents like the one at Aberdeen Central are hardly uncommon in South Dakota white nationalist incitements have intensified because of Trump’s history of sexual violence, hateful lies and propaganda. South Dakota’s Republican governor spins the hate wheel every day because Republican is not just another word for earth hater; it’s another word for Nazi.

  2. Arlo Blundt 2021-12-06 12:23

    Well…we cannot under estimate the attraction that various Neo Nazi and National Socialist ideology has for young, white, underemployed men. There is a certain amount of “Red Neck Bonding” involved in these organizations which increases the fidelity of the members.
    A call to action requiring violent, dangerous activity is part of the “Trial by combat” called for by The Donald and his “law and order” co-hort Rudy, America’s Mayor.

  3. Mark Anderson 2021-12-06 13:14

    Come on, he left Communist Seattle for Sunny Sturgis. He was just following his muse. Even though he was closer to grudz than his muse. Was that Kyle shirt a hoodie? That would open a totally ambivalent world.

  4. SuperSweet 2021-12-06 19:37

    MAGAs are bailing from PNW (Pacific Northwest where I live) because of mask and vax mandates. My daughter’s neighbors just moved to Texas.

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2021-12-06 19:38

    I’d like to think an exodus of such anti-public health radicals would make SuperSweet’s PNW safer. Of course, we’ll all be safer when radicals like Haffner are in prison.

  6. John 2021-12-06 20:22

    Cory and Friends,
    My retained genealogist indirectly reminded me that the 250th Anniversary of of Independence is a mere 4 years, 6 months away.
    I’d long suspected my forebears fought in the Revolution, perhaps in the French and Indian War. Her research proved the former.

    I mention this so our DFP respected gray beards and aprons do not allow your local nationalists to co-opt our patriotism for their nationalism – the nationalism of the 1939 Nazi ‘Pro American Rally’ at Madison Square Garden, or the January 6th, 2021 nationalism. Consider grabbing your local school boards, veteran organizations, and local political boards by their patriotic throats to choke the nationalism out of them.

    May Benjamin Franklin’s spirit of democracy live so that we ‘may keep it’.

  7. John 2021-12-06 21:06

    Allow me to follow up. We do not need fewer flags, fewer parades, less sanctimonious nonsense songs like ‘Proud to be an American’ et al., We need more reflection, more taking a knee, more making a more perfect union – not celebrating the imperfections of the past 250 years.

    I.e., contests for students of what it should be to be an American – full of civic and political responsibility; “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

    Our North star.

  8. M 2021-12-07 06:11

    People in my area think Noem is encouraging thugs like this to move here. She spews hatred for anything or anyone other than what’s in her small world. Her “real Americans” are not just bullies anymore as the insurrection proved. The nut jobs are starting to scare a lot of older people and many I know won’t leave this town for anything, not even to visit their kids in Sioux Falls. People are frightened of the rhetoric, the anger, and the guns.

    All of a sudden, in what is supposed to be retirement, many of these folks are finding themselves living in a country and state they no longer recognize. Getting low on money with price increases in these small towns, health care costs rising, and the loss of safety and security in a county that claims to be the best in the world.

    And then we get more nut jobs as if we don’t have enough already.

  9. John 2021-12-07 13:57

    Ms. Clinton was correct, about the deplorables and much more including Roe v. Wade. Unfortunately she was a lousy campaigner and manager who hired second string staff, and took the electorate for granted while listening to her echo chamber. Ms. Clinton vindicated herself, but only in part, for she failed to beat perhaps the worst president in history. Being a true independent, albeit in the reddest of states, I’m also vindicated in never having voted for any Clinton. Greasy Bill’s affiliation with Epstein, albeit belatedly, validates my assessment of his character.–and-about-reproductive-rights/

  10. larry kurtz 2021-12-07 15:03

    Mrs. Noem is indeed stoking immigration to South Dakota in the extreme white wing of the Republican Party. Recall Deadwood brothel owner Pam Holliday was friendly with meth-addled motorcycle clubs and offered a safehouse for firearms trafficking for at least two decades before Bill Janklow felt the heat from the feds and shut her down.

    But the 2002 closure of the Homestake sealed the exodus of union miners to Nevada and Arizona erasing the Democratic base from the northern Black Hills and much of Rapid City so the Hamsters and other outlaws are bringing the evildoers in hordes.

  11. mike from iowa 2021-12-07 18:23

    Both Clintons were the victims of a vast right wing conspiracy to destroy their political careers at any cost. It started back when WJC was guv of Arkansas and ran unabated until after drumpf stole the 2016 election with Putin’s help. I’d compare Clinton’s accomplishments to any magat pols since Nixon and feel good enough to vote for either one against any magat.

  12. John 2021-12-07 21:21

    Agree, Mike. I voted for 2 independents and Bob Dole vs any Clinton. Living in a deep red state the anti-democratic electoral college negates my presidential vote.

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