Protester at Trump’s Mount Rushmore event faces five charges

July 6, 2020

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — One of the leaders of a protest before President Donald Trump’s pre-Independence Day appearance at Mount Rushmore was charged Monday for allegedly stealing a shield from a law enforcement officer.

Nick Tilsen, 38, of Porcupine, South Dakota, is charged with second-degree robbery and simple assault, both felonies, and three other charges stemming from Friday’s demonstration that drew more than 100 protesters in 95-degree heat.

Tilsen is a a member of the Oglala Lakota tribe and the president of a local activist organization called NDN Collective.

Tilsen was one of about 15 people who remained in the street near an entrance to the event knowing they would be arrested after a 30-minute warning to vacate. Prosecutors say Tilsen’s actions made a law enforcement officer “frightened for her life.”

Tilsen’s lawyer, Bruce Ellison, and family believe law enforcement and the state’s attorney office are targeting Tilsen for his role at the protest.
“He’s been treated in an usual manner” because “he’s been identified as someone who had a leadership role,” Ellison said after the hearing, noting that Tilsen could have been released over the weekend like the other protesters who were arrested.

Tilsen was released from jail Monday on $2,000 bond.