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Nick Tilsen requests July 3, 2020 arrest charges dropped during courthouse gathering

Tilsen filed his own motion, asking for the dismissal of all charges.
Tilsen filed his own motion, asking for the dismissal of all charges.(Connor Matteson)
Published: Jul. 2, 2021 at 4:41 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - One year ago, Nick Tilsen and other protesters met in Keystone to speak out against President Donald Trump, Mount Rushmore, and the 4th of July celebration that took place there.

Multiple people were arrested, including Tilsen, who is facing up to 17 years in prison.

Friday, Tilsen and a group of supporters gathered at the Pennington County Courthouse providing the next piece in the ongoing chain of events.

Children and adults. Native American and Caucasian, gathered outside the Pennington County courthouse where Nick Tilsen announced an update to the court proceedings surrounding his arrest July 3, 2020.

After months of court cases and discussions between Tilsen and prosecutors, Tilsen was offered a deal, diversion.

After that offer, Tilsen spoke with media outlets, he says resulting in the dismissal of the diversion agreement.

Since that decision in March, Tilsen says he hadn’t heard anything from Pennington County State’s Attorney’s office until a few days ago when they informed him that the case is moving forward, setting a status hearing date.

In rebuttal, Tilsen filed his own motion, asking for the dismissal of all charges.

“The only way to have justice in this particular case is to dismiss all charges,” said Tilsen, the president and CEO of NDN Collective. “Because if you don’t, you’re letting that prosecutor who says he’s a friend of the Native community, who says he befriends us, who talks about healing, violate his own laws that he says he stands for. And if we don’t stand up and get these charges dismissed, it means that they can continue doing that to all of us. Not just me, everybody in this community.”

The prosecutor in question? Pennington County State’s Attorney, Mark Vargo.

Vargo declined an interview saying he cannot comment on an ongoing investigation.

An investigation into a day Tilsen says he doesn’t regret.

“I don’t have one regret about anything that happened on July 3 last year,” continued Tilsen. “Our people came together, we stood on our land, that’s our legal right to stand on, against the government, who’s violated their agreements against our people. I did nothing wrong and neither did anybody there.”

After Tilsen’s speech, the group concluded with a song and announced a demonstration for Sunday.

A group plans to walk from Halley Park to the Pennington County Jail. Once there, they will congregate, sharing food and speeches.

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