Sioux Falls protests erupt into violence outside Empire Mall

A haze of what appears to be tear gas hovers over protests that broke out outside the Empire...
A haze of what appears to be tear gas hovers over protests that broke out outside the Empire Mall in Sioux Falls Sunday night. (KSFY)
Published: May. 31, 2020 at 9:43 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) The violence that broke out after protests in Sioux Falls appears to have subsided but a large law enforcement presence continues to monitor the situation

Mayor Paul TenHaken issued a State of Emergency Sunday night and a curfew remains in effect until 7 am Monday

A peaceful protest over the death of George Floyd began around 5 pm in downtown Sioux Falls. Hundreds of protesters continued marching after the planned march route was concluded around Sioux Falls until stopping at the Empire Mall around 9 pm.

At around 9:30 pm, rocks were thrown at businesses and police outside the mall. Shortly after, police in riot gear converged on the area. Glass at businesses was shattered and Mayor TenHaken confirmed looting in the area.

Police deployed tear gas multiple times over the next hour and a half. They also used rubber bullets on several protesters.

At a press conference, Mayor TenHaken says a group of around 700 “bad actors” were responsible for the violence. He characterized the day as two events, saying the peaceful protest in the evening was essentially a separate event than the violence that erupted outside the Empire Mall. He called the incident “embarrassing.”

Watch: We were live the moment police first deployed tear gas at protesters at The Empire Mall in Sioux Falls. Since...

Posted by Dakota News Now on Sunday, May 31, 2020

Gov. Kristi Noem has activated the National Guard to Sioux Falls. Noem’s office says the Guard was staged and ready, deployed within minutes of the order being given, and are already on the ground. She said around 70 Guard members were activated.

“South Dakota hoped for the best but prepared for the worst. We activated the National Guard the minute things turned violent in Sioux Falls,” said Governor Noem. “This is a specialized unit that is prepared for situations like this. We take the protection of rights very seriously, including the right to peacefully protest, but rioting and looting will not be tolerated in South Dakota. Make no mistake, mob rule and violence do nothing to honor the memory of victims.”

Police say an officer saw and heard 15-20 gunshots near T.J. Maxx during the height of the activity in the mall area. They do not know if the shots were directed at anyone. They say they are not aware of any injuries connected to the shooting.

Sioux Falls police tweeted around 10:30 pm that they are not aware of any serious injuries.

The only exception to the curfew in effect is for people going to and from work and seeking emergency services.

Reports of vandalism, including damage to cars, have come in from around the mall and along 41st Street. A Dakota News Now vehicle was vandalized while parked at the Empire Mall. Windows were broken on several 41st Street businesses, including Chicos, Verizon, and Riddles Jewelry.

Anyone with specific information about crimes connected to the events Sunday night is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 367-7007