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Mount Rushmore protest leader faces felony charges

August 20, 2020 GMT

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — The leader of a July 3 protest before President Donald Trump’s visit to Mount Rushmore is facing added charges that bring his potential prison sentence to 17 years.

Pennington County prosecutors have added a felony and misdemeanor charge to their case against Nick Tilsen, who helped lead a demonstration that blocked a road leading to Mount Rushmore, the Rapid City Journal reported. He had already been charged with two felonies and three misdemeanors.

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Law enforcement officers, including the South Dakota National Guard, confronted the protesters after they used vans to form a blockade to call for the Black Hills to be returned to the Lakota people. As law enforcement officers advanced on the blockade, protesters scuffled with the officers and took one of their shields.

Tilsen is charged with assault and robbery for allegedly attacking a law enforcement officer and stealing the shield. The new charges stem from his alleged assault of a Pennington County Sheriff’s Office detective.

Tilsen is president of a local organization called NDN Collective that is petitioning for prosecutors to drop the charges. 19 other people have been charged with misdemeanors for their roles in the protest.

A preliminary hearing in Tilsen’s case is scheduled for Friday.