Walnut Creek Police Provide Video, Update On Monday’s Protest, Freeway Incident

June 3, 2020 17:52 pm · 0 comments

The following update (and video shown above) is from the Walnut Creek Police Dept.:

Monday’s protest through Walnut Creek was a mostly peaceful demonstration. An estimated 3000 people participated from Walnut Creek and beyond. We thank those who came out to make their voices heard, and especially those with whom we had a chance to share conversations. Many such moments were not captured on camera but were some of the most inspiring moments of the day for us. Officers and marchers exchanged thoughts and had the opportunity to listen to each other and be heard. We have received additional questions regarding two incidents during the day that resulted in arrests. In each case, tear gas and other non-lethal devices were used to disperse the crowd when public safety was in jeopardy. We were disappointed when what was a peaceful protest turned into something else.

Shortly after 4:30 p.m., the crowd began marching from Civic Park to our downtown streets. Although the streets were overrun with people and prevented traffic from passing, the crowd remained peaceful. Officers worked diligently to shut down traffic to ensure that participants were safe while they marched. After marching through downtown for nearly an hour, the largest group of protestors (estimated to be approximately 1000 people) began heading toward Highway 680. CHP was notified and attempted to block access to the freeway but were overrun by aggressive protestors. The CHP called for emergency assistance from the Walnut Creek Police Department, who were monitoring a live social media feed and could see active physical confrontations between CHP officers and protesters. As this was occurring, CHP dispatchers were receiving 911 calls from motorists caught in the protest asking for help and reports of vehicles being vandalized. (In the past, freeway shutdowns have led to protestors being hit by vehicles trying to flee, collisions, and confrontations between motorists and protestors.)

Officers involved in monitoring the protest responded to CHP’s call for help. Unfortunately, they were blocked from reaching the CHP officers by protesters standing in front of their vehicles on the freeway onramp. Officers told the protesters to move out of the way multiple times over a loud speaker from an armored vehicle. When the protesters refused to move, even after being warned, officers deployed tear gas and other non-lethal tools. This cleared the crowd enough for police vehicles to reach the CHP officers and provide assistance. They then worked together to remove the remaining protesters who refused to leave the freeway. This took nearly 30 minutes and multiple dispersal orders and warnings.

One officer was injured when he was struck by a thrown projectile. We are aware of at least one protester that was also hit with something and injured. Another protester was bitten by a K9 and arrested after throwing a projectile at an officer. We are continuing to investigate those specific instances.

Later, after the curfew went into effect, law enforcement began telling people who had gathered in the intersection of N. Civic Drive and Broadway to leave the area. Most of them left, however a group of protestors remained. Police continued to tell them to leave and provided warning that if they did not, they would be subject to arrest. Several protesters began committing acts of vandalism on a nearby business, prompting officers to deploy tear gas on those who remained. Some of the protestors began throwing projectiles at officers, including a large rock. One officer sustained an injury.

We are aware that many small slices of the protest are making the rounds on social media, and it is important to recognize that each one does not show the entire context of the day. We continue to offer support and protection to those legally and peacefully demonstrating under their First Amendment rights.

The attached video link shows several videos pieced together. Most have been widely disseminated on social media. The first shows an aerial view from a news helicopter. The second video is of three CHP officers in a confrontation with the growing crowd. You will hear the sirens of officers trying to come to their aid in the background. The third video shows the officers blocked by protesters as they attempt to reach the CHP officers. An officer tells protesters to move and warns them they will be gassed if they do not move. When they fail to move, officers then throw tear gas onto the road. The next video is body worn camera footage of the officers inside the vehicle speaking over the loudspeaker. Another video shows roughly the same moment from a different angle.

The final video shows the police vehicles passing by to reach the CHP units. As with any use of force, we are actively investigating these incidents. Many commenters have said an officer said, “move out of the way, or you will be dead” and not “you will be gassed” just before the tear gas is thrown. This confusion is understandable, based on the audio. However, other, more precise versions of the audio, including body worn camera footage and audio, reveal that the officer clearly said, “you will be gassed.” We ask for the public’s patience and understanding as we continue to review and investigate these incidents. The body worn camera footage was obtained with the consent of the participating agency’s Chief of Police.

Walnut Creek Police had 66 officers, including reserves, working to preserve public safety on Monday, with more than 150 additional officers from neighboring agencies providing mutual aid, including the Central County SWAT team. Walnut Creek Police have also provided mutual aid over the past week to other agencies when needed. We thank all of our public safety partners in helping to ensure public protests can remain peaceful for the protestors and general public alike.

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: