SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – What began as a peaceful protest for most of Sunday evening turned violent later that night.
“People were getting increasingly hostile toward us as we were facilitating their march and blocking intersections and… allowing them to express what they needed to express,” Sioux Falls Police Department Lieutenant Jon Thum said.
Violent protesters began hurling rocks at business in and around the mall. When Lt. John Thum and his fellow officers tried to stop them, they also became targets.
“We got hit by a lot of rocks. We have an officer who may have a broken hand… another one got hit in the throat, I think. Numerous more were hit, thankfully with protection,” Thum said.
But not all protesters showed them that hostility, as some actually came to their aid.
“The initial onslaught, a group of protesters did amazing work by linking arms in front of us and trying to stop what was happening,” Thum said.
Unfortunately, Thum says it didn’t work. Eventually more officers arrived on scene deploying tear gas to try and detain the situation.
“I’m extremely grateful for the group, and I know later, as gas got deployed, they may not understand that we didn’t intend that for them but we simply had to take action,” Thum said.
Deputies from the Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office and Highway Patrol eventually came to back them up – bringing almost 100 officers to the area.
“They came and stood shoulder to shoulder with us and helped us when we needed it and made the difference for us,” Thum said.
While it was a disappointing end to what was a peaceful protest, Lt. Thum and his fellow officers are still remaining hopeful.
“Before tonight started, we were like, ‘You know, we’re Sioux Falls. We’re going to show everybody how we can do it. We’re going to show everybody how it’s done… and I still believe we can do that. I still believe we can come together. If we don’t at least start locally, start with the relationships we built and everything great we have going for us with our relationship with the community, we’ve worked really hard to build that and that’s got to count,” Thum said.