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Resolution on Jan. 6 rally struck down unanimously by South Dakota House's top legislators

Testimony to the top House committee from a convicted attendee of the Jan. 6 rally focused on the "inhumane" treatment of Jan. 6 defendants. The committee rejected a resolution on the matter 12-0.

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Treniss Evans, who attended the Jan. 6 riot and pleaded guilty to several non-violent charges, addresses the House State Affairs committee on Jan. 25, 2023.
Jason Harward / Forum News Service
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PIERRE, S.D. — A concurrent resolution introduced in the South Dakota House of Representatives “encouraging the humane and fair treatment of the January 6 defendants,” was struck down unanimously by a board of the House’s top legislators.

Speaker Hugh Bartels, a Republican from Watertown, was the only member to speak during the post-testimony discussion at the House State Affairs committee on Jan. 25. He explained his opposition to the resolution as one sitting outside the scope of the legislature.

"I understand this resolution, but this is really out of our purview, it's a D.C. problem,” Bartels said. “There are ways to address this through the courts and other mechanisms. I don't appreciate it when other jurisdictions chastise us for the way we do business in South Dakota. And I don't think it's appropriate for us to chastise them."

To begin testimony, the resolution’s lone House sponsor, Rep. Phil Jensen, a Republican from Rapid City, introduced the main proponent for the resolution during testimony: Treniss Evans, who founded the Jan. 6-focused legal advocacy group Condemned USA.

According to a statement of facts from the Department of Justice, Evans entered the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021; during testimony, he claimed he was inside the building for “12 minutes,” with “nine-and-a-half” of those minutes spent “helping police.”

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Evans pleaded guilty to several non-violent charges, including “Obstruction of an Official Proceeding.” He was sentenced to 36 months of probation, including 20 days of intermittent incarceration, a $5,000 fine and a $500 restitution in November 2021.

His testimony went point-for-point through the first parts of Jensen’s resolution, focusing on the lengthy detentions and poor internment conditions of a few dozen of those who entered the Capitol; according to Evans, 24 defendants still remain in a Washington, D.C.-area jail, down from an initial number of about 70.

According to Evans, South Dakota is the first state legislature to hear testimony on the treatment of the Jan. 6 detainees.

“This is absolutely a shame that in America we have people that are two years languishing in prison,” Evans said.

Jason Harward is a Report for America corps reporter who writes about state politics in South Dakota. Contact him at 605-301-0496 or jharward@forumcomm.com.

Jason Harward covers South Dakota news for Forum News Service. Email him at jharward@forumcomm.com.
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