PIERRE, S.D. — The small group, numbering around 20 individuals, stood in the parking lot of the state Capitol in Pierre on Sunday, Jan. 17, flanked by two American flags. Then right at noon, a man walked out of his truck, playing the bagpipes, and the group started to walk around the statehouse.
If armed protesters were to show up at all 50 state capitols this weekend to protest the election of Joe Biden, as was warned by an FBI in a bulletin reported on earlier this week, they forgot about South Dakota.
Twenty minutes prior to a noon start to a permitted demonstration by a group calling itself Jericho March, a camouflaged Humvee sat parked in a lot adjacent the capital, a few what looked like National Guardsmen in fatigues moseyed around a nearby lake, two members of the local press arrived with tripods, but only a small group of individuals stood under a tree.
"We're here to pray," said the man, who declined to give his name alleging, "The media has really gotten a lot of things wrong lately."
"We're just Americans with rosaries," the man continued. Asked if they protested the certification of Biden's decisive win in the Electoral College and believed baseless conspiracy theories pushed by President Donald Trump that that election was stolen, the man said, "We pray for that, and we pray for the unborn."
A spokesperson for the Department of Public Safety on Sunday told Forum News Service he did not anticipate releasing any more information than they already had. Earlier in the week, DPS said they do not comment on security matters.
At noon, the bagpipes began playing, and the group proceeded to march around the statehouse, reciting the rosary.
No one in the group gave names, but they shouted out towns in South Dakota they'd traveled from for today's march: "Sioux Falls," "Aberdeen," "Redfield." "Webster," said a bearded man who did not wear a mask.
The group authorized to march on Sunday was Jericho March, according to a permit shared last week by the Bureau of Administration. Previous protests have been sparsely attended and peaceful. The permit says the group would walk around the state house seven times to symbolize the victory at the Battle of Jericho.
A national group with the same name participated in events and spread election mistruths prior to the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
Law enforcement was on hand in Pierre, with what appeared to be a handful of South Dakota National Guard personnel and three military-style vehicles. The only traffic block came when geese momentarily caused a jam on Broadway.
One woman from Onida pulled on her mask as she walked across the parking lot but declined to give her name.
"It's just my first one," she said, referring to the protest.
Another man, wearing a Sioux Falls Regional Livestock baseball cap, also declined to give his name, adding, "God knows my name."
Few in the group were masked on the otherwise seasonally temperate day in Pierre. After marching around the statehouse seven times, reciting the rosary, they went home.