Kristi Noem Tells Neo-Nazi Marchers: ‘Not Welcome Here’

( — On Saturday June 8, a group of people unfurled a Nazi flag as they held a rally on the steps of the state Capitol building in Pierre, South Dakota.

The unsanctioned demonstration consisted of roughly a dozen people dressed in red and black with black masks covering their faces. Controversial Republican Governor Kristi Noem made a post on social media platform X denouncing the event, stating that Nazis are not welcome in South Dakota.

Christopher Pohlhaus, the neo-Nazi founder of white supremacist group Blood Tribe, has claimed responsibility for the demonstration on social media. He shared Noem’s post condemning the rally and added that they had occupied the steps of the Capital building for as long as they wished to. Brad Reiners, a spokesman for the South Dakota Department of Public Safety, says the group left when they were instructed to disperse by Highway Patrol officers. Reiners also pointed out that the group did not have a permit for their rally. It is unclear if permits are generally required in South Dakota for such small demonstrations if they don’t block traffic or access to the building.

While the group may not have violated any laws regarding gathering, they might have violated South Dakota’s hate speech laws. South Dakota has legal restrictions on speech that target people based on race, ethnicity, religion, ancestry, or national origin. The first amendment represents federal protections for a wide range of speech, but many states have enacted hate speech laws. These laws vary in what kinds of speech they restrict as well as what kind of punishments people may face for violations.

The demonstration on the Capitol steps was only one of several recent public neo-Nazi gatherings. There was another on the same day in Deadwood, South Dakota. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there were 191 white power demonstrations in 2022 and 143 in 2023. State Auditor Rich Sattgast apparently confronted the group in Pierre and posted about it later on social media. He stated that he offers no apologies for the language he used in speaking to the masked neo-Nazis and added that they may have freedom of speech but so does he. He ended by encouraging people to use that freedom to express their disapproval of the “hateful group of scum.”

Copyright 2024,