SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The crowd size for an abortion rights march Wednesday night is now estimated to have been way bigger than initially thought.
That’s some of the new information we’re learning from the Sioux Falls Police Department.
The evening ended with six arrests. Police say the charges include simple assault on law enforcement and resisting arrest. But the event got off to a peaceful, much different start.
When a crowd in red gathered at Lyon Park Wednesday night, a Sioux Falls police sergeant was also on hand.
People watched and listened as he asked them to to stay on the sidewalks during the march and offered other safety advice.
“If anybody does have a heat problem, call 911. We’re here to be a help, not a hindrance,” Sgt. Joel Dalton said.
Wednesday’s event even brought out families.
“I’m here. I brought my daughter with me so I could show her. And I’m here for her right to choose because I don’t want her to live in a world where she can’t make decisions for her own health,” marcher Kari Fransen said.
The crowd soon took off down the sidewalks along Phillips Avenue.
“As the crowd moved around, we were able to observe new people coming in and joining the crowd, trying to steer directions. At different points, different people were showing up that weren’t part of the initial group,” Sioux Falls Police Chief Jon Thum said.
With the use of traffic cameras, police have now determined at least 1,100 people took part in the event.
Later in the evening, a much smaller group of protesters on 14th Street clashed with police.
Officers issued orders to disperse and used smoke canisters.
The Sioux Falls police chief says they did not use tear gas.
“Do we have chemical agents at our disposal, absolutely. We would be improperly equipped and prepared if we did not. Did we use some last night? No. Did we have some? Were we prepared to use it? Yes,” Thum said.
Thum says officers are still investigating footage from the evening.