SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The person who applied on behalf of the fraternity of Proud Boys to have a street dance in Scotland on September 18 told KELOLAND News on Monday that because of safety concerns for the Proud Boys and public, the group would no longer sponsor the event but would try to find a local sponsor.
David Finnell confirmed in a Facebook message that he is the man who asked the Scotland City Council for permission to have a street dance from noon until midnight on Sept. 18. The council approved the request to close a section of a city street with requirements for alcohol and food venders.
Proud Boys is a controversial group that has made the news frequently in the past several months including for its apparent ties to the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
The council minutes from the July 12 meeting list David Finnell’s name and said he was making the request on behalf of the fraternity of Proud Boys.
KELOLAND News reached out to Finnell on Facebook for an interview about the request. He eventually declined and said Proud Boys would not sponsor the event.
The council’s action to close a section of Main Street for the Sept. 18 event was similar to three other actions taken that night. Sections of Main Street will be closed for a Youth Center Corn Hole Tournament on August 13 and for two events on Aug. 14 in connection to the Scottie Stampede Rodeo celebration.
The request for the Sept. 18 is different because it’s associated with a national and international organization the FBI said has ties to the Jan. 6 events in Washington, D.C.
In the first presidential debate in September 2020, when asked if he would condemn white supremist groups, President Donald Trump replied that Proud Boys should, “Stand back and stand by.” Two days later, Trump condemned the Proud Boys.
The Government of Canada placed the Proud Boys on its list of terrorist entities and ideologically motivated violent extremist groups on February 3.
The Southern Poverty Law Center identifies the Proud Boys as a hate group and cites the group’s views about women, Muslims and others as well as appearing with other extreme groups such as Neo-Nazis.
Scotland’s city attorney Kent Lehr said while the Proud Boys have gained some negative national attention, there have not been any problems locally. It’s his understanding that several local or area residents are associated with the Proud Boys, Lehr said.
“I’m not saying the city is condoning or agreeing with what the group says…,” Lehr said. The council had to evaluate the street dance request from the Proud Boys as it evaluates any other request, he said.
“It has to consider the benefit to the community, any potential disruption (to closing street and caused by the event), the benefit to businesses on Main Street….,” Lehr said.
Lehr and city finance officer Tanya Bult said the Proud Boys representative indicated the group wanted to raise money for the community with its Sept. 18 event. Finnell confirmed in a Facebook message the Proud Boys planned to raise money for local non-profits before deciding on Monday to withdraw from the event.
Bon Homme County Sheriff Mark Maggs said the involvement of the Proud Boys in a public event does create an element of concern. Overall, the sheriff’s office would treat the originally planned Sept. 18 event like it does the Scottie’s Stampede in the city or Czech Days in Tabor. The sheriff’s office would provide security and increase the number of people working that day, Maggs said.
The July 12 council minutes said the Sept. 18 event was to have eight bands.
Lehr said if the event would have had “adverse consequences” such as assaults or damage to property “it’s not going to happen again,” Lehr said.
Bult said the council would have needed to review any licenses from vendors selling malt beverages or food on the street on Sept. 18. Those vendors would have brought their licenses to the Aug. 9 council meeting, Bult said.
The public has not raised any questions or concerns with her at the city office about the originally planned Sept. 18 event, Bult said.
Scotland Mayor Curt Hofer did not return messages left by KELOLAND News. Attempts to reach other city council members were not successful.