This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: This story has been updated to remove one individual who was incorrectly identified as a plaintiff but instead is an individual who had provided a declaration to the court.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Gov. Noem invited them to live here and now, they are suing her.
Two plaintiffs in a lawsuit about Pierre Capitol Christmas decorations and first amendment violations said in court papers that they moved to South Dakota for more personal freedom.
Chad Dollick moved from California to South Dakota in 2020 “seeking more personal freedom for my family.”
Luke Robertson moved from Maine in 2020, for the same reason as Dollick, according to court documents.
The two individuals said they are members of a group called Blue State Refugees, according to court documents. The lawsuit describes Blue State Refugees as an “unincorporated association of
South Dakotans who moved to the state from other parts of the United States seeking greater individual freedom. Blue State Refugees brings this action on behalf of itself and its approximately 30 members.”
They had tried to apply to the state for a permit to protest against mandated COVID-19 vaccinations at the Pierre Capitol during the upcoming special session on Nov. 8 and 9. But according to their lawsuit, they were denied a permit because only one event assembly is allowed per day and the Christmas decorating was considered an event for each day from Nov. 1 through Jan. 1.
Noem has been touting the freedom in South Dakota for more than a year as way to attract new residents and visitors.
Back in late August of 2020, Noem wrote this in her weekly Friday column in response to protests in Seattle and Kenosha, Wisconsin : “It doesn’t have to be this way, especially not in the United States of America. To those tired of living in these cities, if you want a better home to raise your children, grow your business, and live your life in peace, I encourage you to come to South Dakota. Here, we respect freedom. We breathe fresh air. And we love our country,” Noem wrote in the final paragraph.
Ironically, the individuals who filed the lawsuit want to protest against mandated vaccinations, something Noem has been against since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. And she has cited personal responsibility and freedom of choices as key pieces of her response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On April 21, Noem said in response to possible vaccine passport requirements: “I encourage all South Dakotans to get vaccinated against COVID-19, but we are not going to mandate any such activity. And we are not going to restrict South Dakotans’ exercise of their freedoms with un-American policies like vaccine passports. In our state, ‘Under God, the people rule.’ And that is how we will operate for as long as I am governor.”