(SACRAMENTO) – The day before the presidential inauguration took place at the nation’s capitol, the Sacramento Police Department had to answer the Sacramento City Council’s questions of how it approached demonstrators in the last couple of months.
SPD clocked 7,176 hours of overtime and more than $600,000 to police pro-Trump demonstrations at the State Capitol.
SPD Police Chief Daniel Hahn said 27 arrests and citations from the protests also included 16 that involved Antifa and counter-protesters. Eleven arrests involved Proud Boys and other far-right affiliates.
“We have tried to keep our community safe, prevent violence, minimize property damage, and ensure everyone’s constitutional rights were protected,” Hahn told the City Council in a virtual setting.
At various moments, the protests were edgy and full of emotions, turning into violence. Many critics say the police department was picking sides, protecting Trump supporters in their opinion.
Hahn said both groups were acting unruly and caused heightened confrontations.
“One group, based on what some experts say is a White extremist group, seems to desire to return to our past while the other group seems to want to destroy our form of government all together,” Hahn said, of the Proud Boys and Antifa factions. “Regardless of their ideologies, they are both violent, and put our community in danger.”
Black Lives Matter Sacramento released a letter regarding the treatment of its activists by SPD. The letter was addressed to Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Hahn.
“In light of recent racist events held in Placerville, California, and in Sacramento, California, Black Lives Matter Sacramento finds it imperative that our city government officials and Sacramento Police Department tend to the ongoing domestic terrorist acts that have been going on in our city.
In Placerville, Mayor Michael Saragosa publicly denounced the Proud Boys when they took photos with a Placerville police car and use the universal white supremacist hand gesture. While this is absolutely not enough to protect people of the city from domestic terrorism by white supremacists, it was a step towards that direction.
“Mayor Darrell Steinberg, where are you? When the murder of George Floyd occurred, you made it a point to go into our community, go into our churches and kneel with our people while vowing to stand in solidarity against racism,” the BLMS letter stated. “You spoke of the violence and racism that you ostensibly don’t condone. However, here we are faced with real racism and you are silent. Meanwhile, this violence is harming our most impacted people: un-housed people, people of color, and women.”
Other social justice and police reform activists participated in the City Council meeting on Jan. 19. Most were opposed to Hahn’s position on the protests and the behavior of the officers.
Hahn’s presentation also included activities of protests last summer that were centered around the George Flyold and Breonna Taylor cases in Minnesota and Kentucky, respectively.
Hahn cited that violence and looting were factors as well as vandalism in downtown and midtown Sacramento. A body camera video showed cops attending conflicts after the November election were a part of the presentation.
Steinberg asked for more insight of the video and requested that the city’s Office of Public Safety Accountability do an independent review of the police images.
“Let’s take all this raw emotion tonight and let’s move it in a direction that is constructive and maybe leads to some reconciliation,” Steinberg said.
By Antonio R. Harvey | OBSERVER Staff Writer