Sheriff seeks dismissal from lawsuit over anti-protest laws

A western South Dakota sheriff is seeking to be dismissed from a lawsuit challenging new state laws that aim to prevent disruptive demonstrations by Keystone XL oil pipeline opponents.

Attorneys for Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom say he must enforce state laws but isn’t responsible for defending them. They also argue in a motion filed last week that the lawsuit is baseless.

The legislation pushed through by Republican Gov. Kristi Noem and GOP leaders allows officials to pursue money from demonstrators who engage in “riot boosting,” or encouraging violence during a riot.

Supporters hope to avoid a repeat of massive and costly protests in North Dakota against the Dakota Access pipeline.

The American Civil Liberties Union and American Indian tribes say the legislation stifles free speech. The ACLU is spearheading the lawsuit against state officials and Thom.

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