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Juneteenth organizers respond to alleged spitting incident on Freedom Walk

todayJune 18, 2024 5

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Wednesday, June 19, is Juneteenth — a national holiday that celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. This past weekend, Sioux Falls saw it’s Juneteenth festival, but an incident early Saturday morning attempted to sour the day’s excitement.

The Juneteenth celebrations in Sioux Falls started Saturday morning with a Freedom Walk led by grand marshal Chet Jones. That’s when an unfortunate incident happened.

“An individual was riding a bike right around the front of the crowd and, what we believe, in a method of he was trying to intimidate the crowd,” Julian Beaudion, the President of Juneteenth Sioux Falls, said. “He didn’t yell any racial slurs or anything but he was definitely yelling and screaming and cursing. And then, at one point, he did spit towards the crowd. He spit towards our grand marshal in particular.”

Beaudion says an incident like this can bring up past traumas for the Black community.

“During the Civil Rights era, we had a lot of Black folks fighting for freedom but they weren’t able to sit at the front of the bus,” Beaudion said. “They weren’t able to walk across a bridge without having dogs and water hoses put on them. They weren’t able to sit at a lunch counter without being spat on. So this just conjured up so much trauma and Chet is in a position right now where he just doesn’t even want to talk about.”

5-year-old case no longer cold

However, organizers and festival-goers were not going to let that incident dampen their day of celebrating freedom.

“Our ancestors worked too hard for us to get to where we are right now,” Beaudion said. “They continued to march across those bridges that I spoke of earlier when fire hoses and dogs were put at them. We’re going to continue to march today.”

Beaudion says Sioux Falls police are aware of the spitting incident, but there has been no official report made yet. Because of that, police say they can’t speculate on what the crime would be if someone were arrested.

According to South Dakota’s codified laws, though, intentionally spitting on another person is a class one misdemeanor punishable by one year in jail or a two thousand dollar fine.

Written by: The Dam Rock Station

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