PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — A group described as a pro-Trump Christian group has received a permit to gather and pray in the South Dakota Capitol Rotunda every Sunday since December, said Leah Svendsen, the special projects coordinator for the South Dakota Bureau of Administration.
The Jericho March has received a permit to gather again from noon to 1 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 17, in the Capitol, Svendsen.
Svendsen said the bureau grants one permit for one gathering per day at the Capitol. Permits are issued on a first-come, first-serve basis.
As of today, there are not gatherings set for Jan. 16, 18, 20 or 21, Svendsen said.
The South Dakota Department of Tourism has an event on Jan. 19 and a South Dakota association of contractors has an event planned for Jan. 22, Svendsen said.
The FBI has issued warnings about possible armed protests at capitols in all 50 states and in Washington, D.C. Jan. 17 has been one particular day mentioned as well as the other days leading up to U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan.20.
Svendsen said in general, groups that plan to gather in the Capitol Rotunda or lawn apply 10 days before the gathering day.
Groups can gather in the Rotunda or the Capitol as long as they are not disruptive and agree to follow other guidelines, Svendsen said.
Rules include no firearms or alcohol are allowed, and noise created by activities or events may not be disruptive to state government or the neighborhood and others.
The Rotunda and Capitol grounds can be used for weddings by special permit. Another example of Rotunda permitted is a South Dakota State University group that typically has an ice cream social. That group canceled the event for Jan. 20 because of the coronavirus, Svendsen said.
Svendsen is in charge of issuing permits and said applicants are not vetted. The First Amendment/Freedom of Speech allows for gatherings, she said.
A protest could receive a permit for the Capitol lawn as long as it is the only event for the day and it is not loud or dangerous, Svendsen said.
Capitol Police have the authority to escort those gathered from the Capitol property if they are disruptive, Svendsen said.