- Associated Press - Sunday, October 23, 2016

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - The South Dakota Peace and Justice Center, which focused on reform, poverty and capital punishment, has closed.

The 36-year-old organization officially dissolved and canceled August’s Peace Festival due to the medical-related resignation of Executive Director Kristi McLaughlin.

The nondenominational group, which was founded by Sister Adrienne Kaumann in 1980, had recently pledged to take up the issue known as “ban the box,” which is meant to keep employees from asking potential employees about criminal arrests on job applications.

Brian Bach, a former president of the board of directors, told The Argus Leader (https://argusne.ws/2du1Skn ) that the organization has lost significant ground in fundraising, especially over the past three years.

“The political demographics in South Dakota have changed over the last 40 years,” Bach said. “A lot of the people who’d supported us in the early ‘90s had left us.”

According to Bach, the group had to evaluate whether its financial support, well under $50,000 a year, was enough to maintain a presence.

Bach said there are still issues that need to be addressed, particularly poverty on South Dakota’s Native American reservations.

McLaughlin said she hopes South Dakota groups will pick up the mantle of civil rights in response to issues like transgender rights, gun violence and drug reform.

“My hope is that, with some of these conversations, something will come up to inspire someone,” to address such things, McLaughlin said.


Information from: Argus Leader, https://www.argusleader.com

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