Published May 31, 2020 for CapRadio News
By Kris Vera-Phillips
Sacramento Police are reviewing their actions from last night’s protests against the police killing of George Floyd and are preparing for more demonstrations today.
Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn says 18 people were arrested last night after crowds started breaking windows and looting businesses in downtown Sacramento.
Speaking with CapRadio’s Beth Ruyak, he talked about how Floyd’s death added to people’s frustration over seeing video and images of black men shot or injured over a long period of time.
“The unique thing from what happened in Minneapolis, is what appears to be the really callous nature of what the main officer (Derek Chauvin) doing, he had his knee on somebody’s neck (George Floyd),” Hahn said. “It’s just mind numbing how that could take place. I don’t understand how he could be so callous when doing that to another human being.”
On officers’ response to the protests, Hahn says he is proud of his officers who did their best, as they faced several challenges — from violent confrontations to property destruction.
“We can’t send more officers into a crowd of 300 people to make an arrest,” said Hahn. “You have to see the person, in that crowd, who broke into the store. They broke into many different stores and broke off into many different groups. And they continued to move … As we look at other cities and what happened in our city last night, it was extremely different.
“The people who think we just let people walk around and loot buildings, when we could have done something differently are extremely naive,” he said.
Hahn says eight different law enforcement agencies, from Yolo County to West Sacramento, helped officers on the ground in downtown Sacramento last night. He estimates there were at least 300 officers out on the streets, at any given time.
“I wouldn’t say it was on the tip of violence, it was violent all night,” Hahn said. “They were literally throwing rocks at officers. The night before, we had bricks. Several officers were hit in the head with bricks. Last night, one of our officers was hit in the head with a rock. It was violent the whole time.”
Some protesters told CapRadio that the violence was instigated by the police, including reports of person later identified as an 18-year-old being hit in the head with rubber bullets. They say had police action been different, it would not have fueled the crowds.
“I just ask people to watch the live feeds that many news stations had yesterday. During the whole day and into the night, officers were walking downtown,” he said. “And there were no arrests. No teargas. But during that time there were things still being thrown at officers, like water bottles and things. Then they started walking around and breaking windows. Then they started breaking into stores and lighting fires and that’s when we started making arrests.”
Hahn says police monitored the crowds, day and night, because they want protesters to be able to express their opinions.
“They’re technically violating the law, by being out on the streets. So at what point do you start making arrests and at what point do you let the first amendment rights go, with minor violations? Those are decisions made, at every one of these protests, at minute-by-minute.”