SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Sioux Falls Police Chief Jon Thum is calling Wednesday night’s protest through downtown “unlawful assembly.”
More than 1,100 people gathered in downtown Sioux Falls Wednesday evening for what started as a peaceful protest, police say.
As of 7 p.m., when the event was scheduled to start, police estimated the crowd size at about 100 people.
Hundreds of people dressed in red and walked down Phillips Avenue. Many carried signs and some chanted.
Using traffic cameras Thursday morning, police found that by the time the march was returning from its initial push down Phillips Avenue and turned back towards Lyon Park, there were at a minimum of 1,100 people taking part, according to Thum.
“It shows how quickly an event can grow,” Thum said.
Word of the event to advocate for women following the release of the Dobbs decision from the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) was spread by email, direct message and Snapchat.
Below is an example of what was shared about the gathering:
Silent Protest on Wednesday June 29th @7pm
We are gathering at Lyon’s Park (14th and Phillips) at 7pm this Wednesday and then silently marching down Phillips Ave. Please no chanting and wear red. Can be red tshirt and jeans or the full handmaid look, whatever red you have and/or are comfortable with.
This is for all uterus or previous uterus owners and supporters.
There will not be a public social media event and is by word of mouth only. This is being done without a permit. We refuse to ask the government that just stripped us of our body autonomy to give us a permit to protest them and exercise our First Amendment. A potential detainment and disrupting the peace violation is expected but unlikely.
This will be a chant free, violent free, PEACEFUL March. If the authorities do show up and ask us to move off the middle of the street, please move silently to the sidewalks, but the street is where we are starting and plan to stay if unchallenged.
We want to join together as a sea of red and show them that after all of the years of being told we should be smaller and quieter, that our silence can be deafening.
Feel free to invite any current or previous uterus owners as long as its not by social media and you tell them the same. Signs are allowed but not needed
For basic safety reasons, remember not to wear contacts if you can, cover tattoos if possible, and comfortable running shoes
A total of six arrests were made Wednesday night, Thum said. Unlawful assembly and other misdemeanor charges are being brought against those arrested.
Of the six people arrested, one was a minor. The other arrests include a 19-year-old, three 22-year-olds and one person who is 29. Police released the names of the five people over the age of 18 who are facing misdemeanor charges.
Jonathon Knorr, 19, is being charged with simple assault on law enforcement, resisting arrest, obstructing law enforcement and disorderly conduct.
Jacob Stettnichs, 29 is being charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and obstructing law enforcement.
Kendrea Angel Rose Marie Eagle, 22, is being charged with disorderly conduct, failure to yield to emergency vehicle.
Mikaila Middlen, 22, is being charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and obstructing law enforcement.
Brandon Lee Parker, 22, is being charged with disorderly conduct.
Initially, Thum said the march was a lot of families, kids and strollers and they had received some good cooperation at first.
As the protestors moved north from Lyon Park along Phillips Avenue, they started to turn back once they reached 9th Street. Thum said police assumed that meant protestors were heading back to Lyon Park, where the protest began.
As it moved, Thum said some people sat down in the street on Phillips. Police tried to direct protestors onto the sidewalk and out of the street as the group moved east on 14th, trying to get them back into the park. That’s when it became a stalemate, Thum said.
Chief Thum said police observed other people joining the protest and that’s when the situation began to escalate.
There was a counter-protestor that got involved, but police say they were able to separate that person from the group.
Officers used smoke to try and disperse the crowd, however no chemical agents were used, Thum said.
During the protest, police also responded to two crashes. One of them involved a car and a motorcycle near the Washington Pavilion.
Thum says because of the crowds it was challenging for first responders to get to the crash. He says the injuries were minor.