SD Mines students, RCPD hold conversations on race relations

Published: Apr. 30, 2021 at 6:52 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - There’s been long-simmering tension in some places between the African American community and law enforcement … heightened even more by the murder of George Floyd in June, and the Black Lives Matter movement gaining popularity last summer in response to police violence.

Some South Dakota Mines students are meeting with the Rapid City Police Department to discuss race relations and bring the conversation closer to home.

While the Black Lives Matter Movement may seem distant from the quaint community of Rapid City, Members of the South Dakota Mines football team and the Rapid City Police Department, think it’s a conversation that needs to be had. Mines students and officers have been meeting to discuss how race relations can be improved in the community.

Student Kyante Christian said that the murder of George Floyd and the reaction to it was a turning point in the nationwide discussion of race.

“People just kind of got sick and tired of seeing the same thing happen repeatedly, and one way that we wanted to bring to this area is just the awareness that it’s a conversation that needs to be had,” Christian said. “So, sitting down and talking about it and trying to share experiences is the best way that we can find that middle ground and find some sort of communication.”

Baylee Dansby is the Youth and Family Navigator for the Rapid City Police Department. She said that the national conversation about race has affected her personally, growing up in Rapid City as a black woman.

“I grew up in Rapid City and I know the officers here and I trust the officers here,” Dansby said. “It made the decision really easy for me because I haven’t had those kinds of experiences in Rapid City, and I realized that the only way I was going to be able to invoke change was to have a foot in the door myself.”

Lieutenant Tim Doyle with the RCPD said that instances of police brutality are rare in Rapid City, but it’s still important to have these types of conversations. He adds that when someone sees an instance of police brutality in one community, they’ll often associate it with policing in general.

“A lot of these issues come from the police not knowing their community and the community not knowing the police,” Doyle said. “Once you know each other, then all these situations are going to go a lot smoother because you know and trust the person and you’ve talked to them before, and it’s a lot better than having a police officer show up in a volatile situation where they don’t know anybody, and you don’t have that trust.”

Christian helped form an organization on the Mines campus called the Hardrocker Ally Association to continue the conversation surrounding race.

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