While COVID-19 numbers improve in Rapid City, unpeaceful protests escalate

KELOLAND.com Original

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender says the spread of COVID-19 in the city is going down. However, Allender is still cautious when it comes to the new coronavirus, as well as the protests that are turning angry downtown.

Pennington County is currently at a 6.7% positive testing rate, but Allender says the rate used to be much higher. Because the city continues to flatten the curve, things are reopening, slowly but surely.

According to the mayor, the transit system plans to start again June 15, but it could have adjusted hours or schedules. He also said the Rapid City Regional Airport has been getting a 5% increase in passengers each week.

Three protests have taken place in Rapid City. Allender says the three begin peaceful, but with each passing day when it gets dark out, the protests take a turn. He said there is a group in old pick-ups that escalates that anger in the protests.

“I wish they had better things to do,” Allender said in regards to the pick-ups.

Some arrests have already been made in regards to public safety during the protests.

Allender says city officials want to work with the protesters, not against them. He says they cannot allow a mob to rule the downtown district or anywhere else. He says there are people in that group that want to bring awareness to the death of George Floyd, but there are others who want to do nothing but destroy.

“We have to plan for the worst. We have seen these protests get out of hand, and we have felt the last three nights of protests that these are getting closer to getting out of hand. And, we want to avoid that,” Allender said.

Allender went on to say they will help provide a public forum if a group wants to peacefully protest.

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