PIERRE, S.D. — A pro-Trump Christian nationalist group that has called for the overthrowing of the presidential election of Democrat Joe Biden will host a rally Sunday, Jan. 17, at the South Dakota Capitol in Pierre, according to a permit filed with the state.
A spokesperson for South Dakota's Bureau of Administration confirmed on Tuesday that the group, called Jericho March, has been gathering every Sunday for "quite a few months now." A national organization with that name, and backed by loyalists to President Donald Trump, also held events Jan. 6 in Washington, D.C., prior to the storming of the U.S. Capitol.
State officials divulged a description of the permitted event, calling Jericho March a "prayer group," in an email to Forum News Service on Tuesday, Jan. 12, the same day media reports leaked of an FBI bulletin warning of a nationwide campaign of armed protests at all 50 state houses beginning this weekend and continuing through the swearing-in of Biden as the 46th U.S. president Jan. 20.
Not much is known about the organizers of the Jericho March event in South Dakota. A contact found on the group's website declined to comment. But the group did host a series of speeches prior to the Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol with conservative speakers spreading election mistruths, including MyPillow founder Mike Lindell, former Trump national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, and Eric Metaxas, a conservative pundit.
While a statement posted to JerichoMarch.org denounced "all acts of violence and destruction" that took place at the U.S. Capitol attack, a separate page prior to the Jan. 6 events outlined various events for that morning, including the blowing of ritual Jewish horns and a march around the U.S. Capitol to imitate the siege of Jericho described in the Bible.
A BOA representative noted a similar event can't be held on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, as South Dakota State University has already booked the Capitol for an ice cream social, said Leah Svendsen, special projects coordinator with the Bureau of Administration.
Svendsen noted the state will not approve any more permits for those days as the "state has a policy of allowing only one event per day."
The protest in Pierre is set on a weekend where protests are planned at state Capitols around the country. In Minneapolis, the FBI says it has credible evidence of a threat of violence on Sunday, Jan. 17, at the Minnesota state Capitol in St. Paul. Meanwhile, North Dakota Capitol security director Sgt. Tim Coughlin told Forum News Service there were no protests on his radar. He added that there are "contingency plans" for policing a protest at the Bismarck Capitol, but he declined to offer details.
While federal security officials worry pro-Trump events at state capitols could turn violent, state officials in Pierre are so far staying mum on safety precautions they'll be taking should Sunday's event turn violent.
"DPS does not talk about security," said South Dakota Department of Public Safety spokesman Tony Mangan on Tuesday. Mangan added that there have been no arrests involved in previous Jericho March demonstrations outside the state Capitol.
A spokesman for Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican who campaigned for Trump in his failed bid at a second term, said it was the governor's policy not to comment on security matters.
Forum News Service has requested the permit filed with state officials in Pierre and will update this story when new information becomes available.