After watching the civil unrest that has occurred everywhere from New York City to Los Angeles -- and in numerous locations in between -- for the last several days in the aftermath of George Floyd's death while in the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department last week, Gov. Kristi Noem issued a statement on Sunday denouncing "mob rule and violence."
“We take the protection of people’s rights very seriously, as we’ve demonstrated over the last several months, including the right to peacefully protest,” Noem said on Sunday. “Make no mistake, mob rule and violence do nothing to honor the memory of victims."
According to the Rapid City Journal, hundreds marched through South Dakota's second largest city on Saturday. Many carried signs and chanted, with some of the messages on their signs stating:
- "Black Lives Matter;"
- "No justice, no peace;"
- "White silence allows violence;" and
- "I can't breathe."
Reports state the Saturday demonstration in Rapid City was largely peaceful. However, according to a Sunday post on the Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce Facebook page, officials were preparing South Dakota's largest city for the possibility of problems associated with a planned Sunday night protest.
"Downtown businesses are encouraged to pull all tables, chairs, signs, or anything else that could be thrown through a window inside for the evening. The protesters that are destroying properties have systematically used street furniture to break windows," the chamber's Facebook page stated Sunday afternoon.
This post was later removed.
Noem emphasized South Dakota officials are prepared to deal with agitators.
"If asked, the state stands ready to assist local authorities to ensure everyone’s rights are protected. Rioting and looting, like we’ve seen in other cities and states, will not be tolerated in South Dakota,” she added.
Noem declined to name the potential agitators. President Donald Trump, however, is unrestrained in stating his opinions of them.
On Sunday, Trump tweeted: "These people are ANARCHISTS. Call in our National Guard NOW. The World is watching and laughing at you and Sleepy Joe. Is this what America wants? NO!!!"
Earlier on Sunday, the president tweeted:"The United States of America will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization."
ANTIFA generally refers to several loosely connected left-wing political groups. ANTIFA is supposed to mean "Anti-Fascist." Members are known for wearing masks, which have nothing to do with COVID-19, during their demonstrations.
One of the wildest scenes from the weekend so far actually took place in Salt Lake City, Utah. The video appears to show a white man pointing a bow and arrow at protesters. He was then attacked and battered by the protesters. Viewer discretion is advised: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V62DYLDaKNA.
Meanwhile, according to the Minneapolis StarTribune, fired police officer "Derek Chauvin, 44, was arrested late Friday morning and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter four days after he pinned his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes Monday at the intersection of E. 38th Street and Chicago Avenue as the unarmed and handcuffed man told him he couldn’t breathe."
U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., took to Twitter on Sunday to urge calm.
Finally, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden used Twitter to blame Trump for the president's alleged role in the civil unrest.
"You can't defeat bigotry; it only hides. And when leaders give it oxygen — as Donald Trump has done — it comes roaring back. We all have a moral obligation to stand up, speak out, and hold people accountable," Biden tweeted late Saturday.