South Dakota Governor: 'We Will Not Be Social Distancing' at Big Mt. Rushmore Independence Day Event


South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem will not ask those who attend the Independence Day celebration Friday at Mount Rushmore to wear masks or practice social distancing.

The Republican governor joined Fox News host Laura Ingraham on Monday to discuss President Donald Trump’s upcoming visit to the state to celebrate the country’s birthday, and how South Dakota is prepared to celebrate the holiday.

“We will have a large event on July 3. We told those folks that have concerns that they can stay home, but those who want to come and join us, we’ll be giving out free face masks, if they choose to wear one,” Noem told Ingraham.

“But we won’t be social distancing,” she said. “We’re asking them to come, be ready to celebrate, to enjoy the freedoms and the liberties that we have in this country, and to talk about our history.”

Federal Court Gives Texas Huge Win to Help Fight Illegal Immigration

Noem, who did not lock down her state amid the coronavirus pandemic, has been an ardent supporter of allowing citizens to make their own decisions about the potential health threat posed by the virus.

“I took an oath to uphold the constitutions of our state and of our country. And I will always stand for South Dakotans’ freedom and liberties,” she tweeted after appearing on Fox News in April.

Do you support Gov. Kristi Noem's decision to not enforce social distancing?

Noem said on “The Ingraham Angle” Monday that she will again trust South Dakotans “to focus on personal responsibility,” adding, “Every one of them has the opportunity to make a decision that they’re comfortable with.”

South Dakota has had just over 6,700 coronavirus cases and 91 deaths since March, according to the state’s health department.

Trump will speak at Mount Rushmore at an event that is expecting around 7,500 participants, The Associated Press reported.

Many of the president’s opponents, though, are criticizing his visit to the national landmark.

WUSA-TV reported some Native American activists are upset that Trump intends to visit the landmark for the holiday, equating Mount Rushmore with “white supremacy” amid a nationwide movement to take down statues and monuments.

2nd Highest-Ranked GOP Senator and Trump Critic Endorses Him, Increasing His Support

“Mount Rushmore is a symbol of white supremacy, of structural racism that’s still alive and well in society today,” Oglala Lakota tribe activist Nick Tilsen told the outlet.

“It’s an injustice to actively steal Indigenous people’s land, then carve the white faces of the colonizers who committed genocide,” Tilsen said.

The Democratic National Committee’s official Twitter account criticized Trump’s visit planned visit Monday and also attacked the monument.

“Trump has disrespected Native communities time and again,” The DNC wrote.

“He’s attempted to limit their voting rights and blocked critical pandemic relief. Now he’s holding a rally glorifying white supremacy at Mount Rushmore — a region once sacred to tribal communities.”

The tweet from the DNC accusing the rally, the monument or both of “glorifying white supremacy” was soon deleted, but many, including Texas Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw, saved screen shots of the comment.

Crenshaw commented that the Democratic Party “has been wholly infiltrated and corrupted by radical leftists.”

Mount Rushmore, of course, honors former Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

, , , , , , , ,
Johnathan Jones has worked as a reporter, an editor, and producer in radio, television and digital media.
Johnathan "Kipp" Jones has worked as an editor and producer in radio and television. He is a proud husband and father.