SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Organizers for Wednesday night’s abortion rights protest did not get a permit from police for the event. However, the Sioux Falls Police Department still tried to keep everyone safe as they expressed their First Amendment rights.

When people gather to rally, march or protest for their beliefs, police say having a permit to do so can help officers be prepared to keep everyone safe.

“We don’t care what people want to protest. We don’t care what awareness they want to raise,” Sam Clemens with the Sioux Falls Police Department said. “We’ve seen examples of people not paying attention and driving into crowds of people. Something like that could be prevented and, you know, that’s the safety plan that we have in place.”

Clemens says there is a city ordinance that requires permits for groups of 25 or more people who plan to protest or assemble.

“We’ve never turned anybody down for a permit. We’ve tweaked some things, maybe like the location or you know, I guess how they’re planning whether it’s like a march, something like that,” Clemens said.

Of course, even with a permit, set plans could always change.

“I mean, we don’t expect people to know exactly how many numbers, how many are going to show up, but it gives us an idea and, again, it’s that planning stage — where you’re going to be, how you’re going to protest. And it makes us aware in case we need to adjust,” Clemens said.

Clemens says knowing about a protest ahead of time can also help police if tensions, and feelings, get high.

“You may have people that have that opposing viewpoint that are looking just to show up and cause problems and stir things up,” Clemens said. “So if we know this is going to happen, we can plan that ahead of time so both groups will be able to exercise their right, give their free speech, give their points, but in a manner where it’s not going to conflict with the two.”

Clemens says anyone looking to get a permit to protest can call the police department to start the process.