The charges against Nick Tilsen will be dropped if he completes the diversion program

Nick Tilsen Lakota People news
Nick Tilsen Lakota People news

Nick Tilsen and 19 others were arrested during a July 3 protest near Mount Rushmore if they dropped their charges after completing and agreeing to a diversion program. 

In a news release from NDN Collective on Monday, Tilson said, “How do I face all the charges after almost 17 years in prison?” Reverse for him to continue this unjust indictment of himself and other land guards. “

“The fact that the state is removing these allegations suggests that these were politically and racially motivated allegations intended to abuse our positions of power to suppress our movement and persecute indigenous people Both the sheriff and the state prosecutors were exposed, ”she added. 

His attorney, Brendan Johnson, said that Tilson would participate in the Pennington County diversion program, but a charge against him was dropped.

After completing a program the final charge, simple assault of a law enforcement officer, will be removed. So charges will be laid against the 19 other people arrested during the protests, who are aged between 19 and 60 and are mostly from the Black Hills or Pine Ridge Reservation. 

Pennington County State’s Attorney Mark Vargo said the agreement would not be final until Tilson went through the intake process and signed the diversion contract.

The diversion program is designed to address people’s criminal behavior and underlying issues, without them being prosecuted and sentenced in court. 

The diversion contract includes a custom plan such as community service, work requirements, or treatment in the case of someone struggling with mental health or substance abuse. It also includes accepting the defendant for the crime they have been charged with. 

Tilsen would “need to make an acknowledgment of felony behavior in an attempt to change that behavior without the need for criminal convictions”. “You must say that what you did was wrong … It recognizes the criminally responsible.”

If Tilsen completes the program and is not arrested for a year, his arrest, case file and charges will be terminated and sealed. 

Tilsen, president of the Rapid City-based NDN Collective and a member of the Ogala Sioux tribe, did not immediately return a message from the journal. He originally promised to bring his case to trial.

He changed his mind because he was most concerned about what would happen to 19 other people, Johnson said. 

Tilsen admitted “doing whatever it takes to dismiss the charges against others”. “We had a very long discussion and conversation with the state’s attorney’s office,” Johnson said.

Johnson refused to speculate as to why Vargo agreed to the arrangement. Vargo said he would not comment until the contract was signed. 

“The agreement comes after political pressure from grassroots groups, including petitions, social media campaigns and local and national media coverage of cases,” the NDN Collective said in a news release. “Thousands of people organized into our legal and bail fund, called and signed petitions to drop these charges,” Tiles said.

Alternatively, Tilsen was charged with second-degree robbery and grand theft, meaning he could only be convicted of one of the charges that allegedly stemmed from stealing a shield from a woman in the National Guard. Were related. He has also been charged with two counts of simple assault against law enforcement officers and three misdemeanors: a highway, unlawful assembly and disorderly conduct. 

He was not accused of physically assaulting the officers, but attempting to “put them in fear of imminent body damage, with or without actual ability to harm them” due to physical danger or credible danger. it was done.

Tilsen’s allegations were sealed by an indigenous-led civil disobedience action from July 3 near Mount Rushmore, where President Donald Trump spoke at the Independence Day fireworks ceremony.

About 150 protesters used handicapped vans and their bodies to block an outpost to protest the president and the monument, while settlers later called the Black Hills to return the people of Lakota and the federal government called them Broke the treaties to seize. 

“For Indigenous people and Lakota, it’s really about the land as you take Mount Rushmore – well, Mount Rushmore is built on land stolen by a member of the KKK,” Tilson told the Associated Press. 

The protesters were blocking the road but not turning violent when depots declared the group an unlawful assemblyman and when Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom and other law enforcement leaders requested the government to deploy Gov. Christie Noam’s National Guard. 

Guards, a SWAT unit and a mobile response team – which handles crowd control – arrived with military-style vehicles and gear about 30 minutes after the announcement. They made riot lines and pushed them backward with their shields, walking on both sides of the road towards the protesters. Many officers used pepper spray and pepper balls to force the protesters to return. 

Some protesters pushed against the vials with their hands, makeshift shields and sticks. Some also threatened, a guardson said during the preliminary hearing. 

The charges against Tilson were the result of “aggressive” actions taken by law enforcement and guards that day, defense attorney Bruce Ellison argued during a hearing. He said his team wanted to know if the deployment was legal, how the riot lines had escalated so quickly and what law enforcement and guards expected.

Vargo said the allegations were not about the nature of the protests, if he had joined the right-wing group, he would have filed the same. Thomas said the protesters broke the protest plans they agreed on and needed riot lines to control the situation, which he said was illegal and not peaceful. 

However, during the preliminary hearing two deputies testified that they saw no violence or intimidation from the protesters before the guards arrived, and one stated that he believed he and fellow depot rioters would have the protesters without backups from police Could have arrested safely.