SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Protests demanding justice for George Floyd will make their way to Sioux Falls this weekend. Police are working to make sure those protests remain peaceful.
Friday afternoon, our camera crews spotted officers checking out the potential location of Saturday’s protest at 41st Street and Minnesota Avenue.
“It was very difficult to watch.”
Sioux Falls Police Chief Matt Burns says the department has a long history of supporting an individual’s right to protest. Officers will attend this weekend’s gatherings to ensure a safe environment, but Burns has a request.
“Do so safely and bear in mind the rights of others around them, but it is their right to protest and we’re there to support them and make sure they can do that in a safe environment,” Burns said.
“We’re not there to try and intimidate anybody; we just want to make sure everybody’s safe,” Sioux Falls Police spokesman Sam Clemens said.
Sioux Falls Police have been in contact with organizers of Sunday’s protest that will end at the Law Enforcement Center. The department requires an assembly permit, which is free, but serves a purpose.
“People can gather, people can protest, that’s a constitutional right. We’re not here to interfere with that, but when you start to have those gatherings you don’t always know who’s going to show up,” Clemens said.
Another key to keeping protesters safe is in the details.
“You want to make sure you understand the area and if there are certain things that could pose a danger such as a construction zone, such as a blind spot, or a spot that’s close to traffic,” Burns said.
“More of kind of the route that they’re taking, making sure that people are on public property like on the sidewalks, that they’re not interfering with traffic, to make sure that they’re going to be in a place where they’re safe to protest and they’re not going to be put in harm’s way,” Clemens said.
Keeping safety in mind, while protesting for change.
Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken and Police Department Chief Matthew Burns issued the following statements in response to recent events in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Statement by Mayor TenHaken
“Like many, I was shocked by the video footage and saddened by the death of Mr. Floyd. While
outrage is understandable, peaceful protest and constructive dialogue is the best path forward
for reform. I am thankful the Department of Justice is making this case a priority as we wait for
the results of the investigation. Sioux Falls is fortunate to have an incredible police department.
We will continue to provide them with proper training and resources to protect our community
with professionalism and respect that preserves our rights and liberties.”
Statement by Chief Burns
“As we watch the situation in Minneapolis unfold, we are deeply saddened by what has
happened, on numerous levels. Our officers are regularly trained on safe, respectful due
process and proper arrest protocols, and we continue to make that training a priority. We also
fully support and will protect every citizen’s right to peacefully protest and assert their
Constitutional rights. We remain vigilant and focused on effectively serving the public safety
needs of Sioux Falls.”