SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A forum in Sioux Falls Wednesday evening focused on hate crimes and how they can be addressed for minority-owned businesses
Community organizations, business owners, law enforcement and others were all on hand to discuss problems they see and what could be done.
The event is titled the “Sioux Falls Business Safety and Hate Crimes Forum.” South Dakota Voices for Peace organized the event in conjunction with the United States Department of Justice and other organizations.
The forum was at the Neighborhood Market on the east side of Sioux Falls. It’s a minority-owned business that’s fallen victim to four burglaries over the last year resulting in thousands of dollars in loss and damage.
The forum is built around community and having a discussion. South Dakota Voices for Peace executive director, Taneeza Islam, was tonight’s moderator.
“Unfortunately, we’ve seen a rise in vandalism and small business owning stores, and our BIPOC and minority-owned businesses deal with some different things, if you will, in terms of figuring out why they’ve been targeted, why the vandalism is occurring,” Islam said.
The event focuses on education and understanding.
“When do we call the police department? When do we call the sheriff’s department? When do we call the U.S. Attorney’s Office? How can we lean on community organizations like Voices for Peace or the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce or The Hub South Dakota?” Islam said.
Julian Beaudion is a business owner and co-founder of The Hub South Dakota, an organization that serves as a place for professionals in the BIPOC, or black, indigenous, and people of color, community to network and be connected with resources.
“Education and awareness is one of the main components of changing things. I also think just getting together on the ground level,” he said.
Beaudion also worked in law enforcement for about 13 years.
“I always say that you can’t effectively police a community until you effectively understand the community, and there’s no difference here. You have to really be able to effectively understand the needs of the community in order to change some of the policies that needed to be changed,” he said.
Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office captain Adam Zishka spoke at the event alongside Sioux Falls Police chief Jon Thum.
“There’s a lot of the times these business owners don’t have a lot of police contact that’s incidental, and the only time they do have police contact is when something has gone wrong or something has happened. But it’s also important for us to listen to the ideas and the thoughts that these community members have so that we can respond appropriately and really tailor our services to what the community expects,” Zishka said.
The forum lasted about two hours and had panels for business owners, law enforcement and resources.