Black Lives Matter marches are still being held all over the U.S., following the death of George Floyd. Rumors of vans hauling out-of-state rioters and looting sparked contention in Rapid City Monday. Police weren’t able to confirm the protest, but took preemptive measures. Nearly 300 peaceful protesters-mostly young locals-ended up marching through a heavily policed downtown area.
Rumors of a riot scheduled for 6p.m. downtown built a palatable tension in the city. Law officers lined every corner of the street. Some store owners and adults opposing the riots sat in front of businesses-some yielding baseball bats and guns. At 6p.m. people slowly started gathering to protest, many of them teenagers. Within an hour, almost 300 young people were peacefully chanting in front of the courthouse.
Police officers followed the group everywhere, making sure that antagonizers shouting things from their car didn’t lead to violence, and even blocking off the streets with department cars and cones for the group to march safely.
The whole event stayed peaceful-and that was intentional. The organizer is 16 year old Carly Siers from Rapid City.
“I actually got death threats when I planned this out. People were messaging me telling me they’re going to find out where I live, that they’re going to kill me, they’re going to murder my whole family for me organizing this, organizing a peaceful protest.”
She says it was disturbing because many of the messages were from older people. She says young people need to fight for their future.
“This is for George and all the police brutality that’s been unspoken of. I am speaking for the silence, I am speaking for the unspoken.”
Rumors still circulated during the protest of massive groups of counter protesters. Brendyn Medina does communications for the Rapid City Police Department.
“There have been so many rumors flying around today, it’s been hard to keep up with just how many of them there are. Obviously, we can see that there’s one demonstration going on, this is the only one I’m aware of and it’s going just the way it should.”
Organizers of the protest mentioned plans for a second peaceful protest Tuesday night.