Citing public safety concerns, Rapid City Police Chief Karl Jegeris on Tuesday denied a special event permit application for an anti-police brutality march planned to start at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center during the Lakota Nation Invitational on Friday afternoon.
Organizers intended to start the event at 3 p.m. on the Fifth Street side of the civic center and lead walkers down Fifth Street to Main Street. The route would have followed Main Street to Mount Rushmore Road and then return to the civic center, according to a police department news release.
Jegeris notified organizers of his decision Tuesday.
With 2,500 students and their families expected to converge on the civic center for LNI, ensuring public safety is his priority, Jegeris said.
"We have been working for several weeks to put together a plan to ensure safety at LNI," Jegeris said. Additional law enforcement officers from other agencies including the Bureau of Indian Affairs and tribal police departments typically assist with security for the sport and cultural event which is expected to draw thousands to Rapid City this weekend.
Jergeris' decision is a violation of the First Amendment right to assemble, according to Cody Hall of Eagle Butte. Hall is a member of the American Indian Movement Grass Roots that intended to sponsor the event.
"We have talked with the legal team," Hall told the Journal Tuesday. "Sometimes these things work out, sometimes they don't."
Hall said Jegeris expressed concern that the rally could grow beyond anyone's control after an announcement was posted on Facebook by the United Urban Warrior Society, a local organization headed by James Swan.
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Hall stressed that his group is not affiliated with the United Urban Warrior Society.
Hall said the rally is intended to empower Native Americans and to bring attention to the need for improved race relations in Rapid City. He also invited Jegeris to speak at the rally.
The next generation of Native American youth need to know to know that they can have a voice, Hall said.
The confusion over sponsorship of the event is one of Jegeris' concerns. It makes it difficult to know who is in charge, he said. He is willing, however, to see if there is a solution.
"We are willing to work with Mr. Hall to accommodate his request," Jegeris said.
Jegeris has invited Hall to meet with him this week to see if another location and time can be agreed upon for the event. A meeting time has not yet been set.
The rally's timing not only overlaps LNI events, but spans the release of students from Central High School.
"There are so many people present in that area at that time that I must lean towards public safety," Jegeris said.