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Grand jury indicts South Dakota man who refused mask at school board meeting

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Officers with the Mitchell Police Division escort Reed Bender from the Monday evening meeting of the Mitchell Board of Education. Bender was removed from the premises after he refused to put on a face mask at the meeting, which is in violation of a district mandate that states all people on Mitchell School District property to wear a mask. Bender was not arrested and no charges have been brought against him at this time. (Erik Kaufman / Republic)
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MITCHELL, S.D. — A Mitchell man who refused to wear a face mask at a school board meeting last month has been indicted by a grand jury on charges of obstructing a law enforcement officer.

Reed Bender, 39, faces a Class 1 misdemeanor for "using or threatening to use violence, force or physical interference or obstacle, intentionally obstruct, impair or hinder the enforcement of the criminal laws or the preservation of the peace by law enforcement officers," according to court documents.

On Sept. 14 in the library of the Mitchell High School, Bender refused to wear a mask during the regularly scheduled Mitchell School District Board of Education meeting. When board members told all attendees they had to wear a mask, Bender was vocal that he wouldn't put one on. Superintendent Joe Graves told Bender he would have him removed and then Graves called local authorities.

Bender arrest warrant by inforumdocs on Scribd

Upon their arrival, Bender told Mitchell police officers Niko Arnold and Tyler Urban, "You're going to have to drag me out." He then proceeded to tell the school board members, "This is what you are doing. You're sowing discord within our community at every level. It's disgusting."

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The officers then attempted to escort Bender out of the meeting. At one point, one officer drew his stun gun — while some audience members at the meeting told Bender not to resist. Bender eventually left the meeting.

The incident was caught on video by someone attending the meeting.

Court documents say the indictment is made with the concurrence of at least six grand jurors. It also states that both Arnold and Urban testified with regard to the case.

A warrant has been issued for Bender's arrest. A Class 1 misdemeanor is punishable upon conviction by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,000.

Officers called to Mitchell school board meeting over mask rules

Related Topics: CRIME AND COURTSEDUCATION
Luke Hagen was promoted to editor of the Mitchell Republic in 2014. He has worked for the newspaper since 2008 and has covered sports, outdoors, education, features and breaking news. He can be reached at lhagen@mitchellrepublic.com.
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