Noem activates national guard after Sioux Falls protests turn violent

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - UPDATE: According to Sioux Falls Police, during the height of the activity at the Empire Mall, officers saw and heard 15-20 gunshots near T.J. Maxx. Police said they still have not had any reports of serious injuries and do not know if the gunshots were directed at anyone or anything. Officers are still investigating.

Governor Kristi Noem activated the South Dakota National Guard Sunday night, after a Sioux Falls protest turned violent.

According to the governor, about 70 guard members, from both the 114th Fighter Wing and the Army National Guard's 235th Military Police Company, were sent to Sioux Falls to assist law enforcement.

Noem said the guard members were trained in security and military police and did not have the authority to arrest anyone. “They are there to secure locations and keep people safe,” she said.

Protests of the death of George Floyd by a Minnesota police officer have been taking part around the county this weekend, including in South Dakota. According to Sioux Falls police, protests there became violent, causing the Sioux Falls mayor to declare an emergency, and request the national guard’s help.

The City of Sioux Falls posted a statement saying a 10 p.m curfew is in place for the entire city. Also, all individuals need to stay home until 7 a.m. on Monday with the exception to seek emergency services or to travel to and from work.

Noem says guard members in other communities are on stand by, but she doesn’t anticipate having to activate additional units. “I believe in being prepared.”

Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender said "the death of George Floyd was an unnecessary tragedy. Mr. Floyd’s family and friends grieve for a specific person while untold others grieve for a system of unfairness or injustice."

Allender added "I’ve gotten to know this community over the last 35 years and I have seen us at our worst and at our best. We are all human and all capable of great or terrible things. These are the times when our community begs for unity, begs for calm and begs for peace."

While asking the public to still keep in mind of the pandemic, Allender said, "Emotions are understandably high during this time, but while exercising one’s constitutional right to assemble, it is imperative we observe others’ right to protection under the law. Public safety is government’s highest calling and every measure must be taken to use the authority given to us by the people, to protect the people."

Allender said the city may assist in demonstrations but does not condone any type of rioting, looting and destruction.