While hoping to avoid the lawlessness and looting taking place from coast to coast, Pierre Mayor Steve Harding said city leaders are prepared for a protest to take place at the State Capitol at 5 p.m. today.
The protest is in response to the death of George Floyd while in the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department last week.
“We have been in contact with protest organizers, Hear our Voices, and have been assured that their goal is a peaceful protest,” Pierre Police Department Capt. Bryan Walz said. “We are coordinating with other law enforcement agencies to monitor and respond to the event.”
“The city of Pierre absolutely supports the public’s constitutional right to peacefully protest,” Mayor Steve Harding added. “I do want to remind spectators and protesters of that right and to be respectful of property and each other.”
At the Empire Mall in Sioux Falls on Sunday night, protesters clashed with police, leading to tear gas deployment. Gov. Kristi Noem also called in the National Guard to handle the situation in Sioux Falls.
“We activated the National Guard the minute things turned violent in Sioux Falls,” Noem said. “This is a specialized unit that is prepared for situations like this. We take protection of rights very seriously, including the right to peacefully protest, but rioting and looting will not be tolerated in South Dakota. Make no mistake, mob rule and violence do nothing to honor the memory of victims.”