Rapid City community leaders encouraging peace in time of unrest
RAPID CITY, S.D. — As violent demonstrations continue around the nation, including over in Sioux Falls, a demonstration in Rapid City Monday evening was peaceful.
People gathered at Main Street Square and walked downtown. They first went to the public safety building, and then proceeded to Memorial Park, waving signs at passing cars from the bridge over Rapid Creek. Everyone obeying the traffic signals.
Amid growing unrest and the potential of violence in cities across the country, Rapid City community members and local law enforcement met at Rushmore Mall earlier on Monday to talk about how to best protect the community.
With the best intentions in mind, police say it’s best to let law enforcement do what they’re trained to do.
“So just came out here to meet with them, just to let them know that we need to be able to do our job and if there is a peaceful protest or rally and things of that nature, that we need to be able to focus on that,” said Lt. Andy Becker of the Rapid City Police Department.
The police sharing their heartbreak over recent injustices, but also sharing the importance of having civil conversations and keeping away from violence.
“I care about every single person in this city,” said community member Tony Rhodes. “You know this is my community, this is where I live, this is my home. A demonstration of justice is not destroying businesses, a demonstration of justice is not destroying, especially a small business, someone’s livelyhood, someone who started a business to put their children through school, to make their house payments and things of that nature”.
“Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good,” said Bishop Troy Carr, of Faith Temple Church.
Rapid City community leaders then gathered Monday afternoon in Main Street Square to echo calls for peace.
While rumors have circulated on social media of busloads of rioters making their way across the state, Rapid City Police Chief Karl Jegeris says the rumors are unsubstantiated. The police department encourages people to exercise their rights without spreading hate.
“At this point in time, I would encourage everybody to just offer verbal support and encourage peace in our community,” said Jegeris.
Community members were standing together with the singular message for peace and unity.
Over the weekend, both Jegeris and Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender spoke in support of the protests, asking the public to be patient, calm, and considerate as one community.