Police broke up group protecting homeless from cold weather Friday night
RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Food, warmth, shelter and necessities. It’s what one group claims they provided the homeless Friday night until law enforcement broke it up.
“Obviously, we’re all in on solutions for the homeless. This is not a solution for the homeless this is a protest," says Captain James Hohn from the Rapid City Police Department.
“And this is not a protest," says activist Nick Tilsen. "We’re simply attempting as relatives to provide for our other relatives when the city and the police and the state and the government refuses to.”
The land is city property. Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender says he had discussed with NDN Collective options to use it to help the homeless.
However, there is no agreement yet, but that didn’t some people from trying to help.
“As part of a feed down here, these tepees were erected, and that’s in violation of city ordinance and the organizers of this knew they were in violation of city ordinance," said Johns.
With this violation, law enforcement calls it a protest and treated it like one. Responding with more than two dozen officers.
“We have to make sure that when we go to respond to an event with a large amount of people that are refusing to obey the law. We have to make sure we have enough resources to handle it safely," says Rapid City Police Chief Don Hedrick.
People there that night agree the city sent many resources, but not the ones they wanted. The group says finding a bed in Rapid City isn’t as easy as it sounds.
“There was a call made out by some of the relatives, and there’s no place for them in Safe Bed or at the mission," says activist Hermus Bettelyoun.
“There tons of resources, we have availability at the mission, we’ve got the care campus. There are options for homeless people in Rapid City," says Johns.
As the conversation continued Friday night, all the tepees were taken down except one.
“It is 10:08 p.m. If that teepee doesn’t start coming down by 10:20 p.m., then this will become an unlawful assembly, and people will go to jail," says Johns.
But inside the last tepee, a group of people performing a religious ceremony ready to be arrested.
Police did arrest the group inside and charged them all. They were all released by Saturday morning.
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