Police received multiple calls about a South Dakota man yelling racist and homophobic slurs in downtown Sioux Falls Monday evening, but he was never arrested, police spokesman Sam Clemens told the Argus Leader.
The man’s bigoted tirade was caught on video, which shows him yelling at residents and diners outside of Carpenter Bar.
At one point during the incident, someone apparently threw a glass of water at the man.
Clemens explained the man was not arrested because his behavior and actions were legal and within his rights. The man was standing in a public area during the incident.
“What he’s doing really falls under free speech, so there’s really no laws that are broken,” Clemens said.
Clemens said the man was likely trying to incite a reaction from people, but said it’s best to ignore people who make comments like that or report it to police.
“There’s probably not a whole lot of things we can do in a situation like that, but sometimes having officers come and talk to people is enough to maybe persuade them to go somewhere else,” Clemens said.
Officers have come into contact with the man before about similar issues, Clemens said.
According to FindLaw, police can arrest people for “Disturbing the peace, also known as breach of the peace.”
The criminal offense “occurs when a person engages in some form of unruly public behavior, such as fighting or causing excessively loud noise. When a person’s words or conduct jeopardizes another person’s right to peace and tranquility, he or she may be charged with disturbing the peace.”
“Laws exist that make it a crime to create a public disruption or commotion. These laws vary from state to state, but they typically prohibit: Using offensive words in a public place likely to incite violence; Shouting in a public place intending to incite violence or unlawful activity; Shouting profanities out of a car window in front of a person’s home over an extended period of time.”