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Law enforcement in Yankton and Vermillion are preparing for potential protest activity.

According to a press release sent by the Yankton Police Department (YPD) late Monday afternoon, chatter on social media indicated a “protest like those seen in Sioux Falls may be coming to Vermillion/Yankton area (Monday) evening.”

YPD chief John Harris told the Press & Dakotan Monday that they first started hearing the social media claims around mid-afternoon.

“We started picking it up around 3:30- 4 p.m. this afternoon,” Harris said. “We started making preps and talking to Vermillion and other people as well to see what’s going on with it.”

He said it’s best for the community to be on the watch tonight.

“Stay inside and stay out of the way, because it’s not our community that’s coming — they’re coming from out of town,” he said.

A similar situation happened during Sunday’s protests in Sioux Falls, which had been peaceful throughout much of the day. However, social media claims were spread that buses full of “agitators” were on their way to the protest.

According to the Argus Leader Monday, Sioux Falls Police Chief Matt Burns said that no evidence could ultimately be found and characterized it as a potential false flag.

Harris said that there’s no way of telling whether Monday’s social media chatter was authentic, but it’s best to be prepared.

“We don’t know the veracity of it, but we don’t want to sit on our hands and let it get out of hand,” he said.

The press release continues that destructive behavior won’t be tolerated.

“The Vermillion and Yankton Police Department respects the rights of citizens to protest, which is protected in our Constitution. Riotous behavior that is focused on causing damage to property or injury to others is illegal,” the press release said.

It offered a number of tips to the community, including:

• Remain inside.

• Avoid groups of strangers.

• Call 911 if you see suspicious behavior.

• After dark, keep your house lights on. Both inside and outside.

• Remove heavy objects from your yard or in front of your business that could be thrown to cause damage.

Follow @RobNielsenPandD on Twitter.

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