Sacramento, CA – Police supporters and Black Lives Matter protesters clashed on Tuesday, in front of the Sacramento Convention Center.
The protest erupted the day after Sacramento County Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Stasyuk was fatally shot, and another deputy was wounded, nearby in Rancho Cordova.
Inside the building, more than 1,000 law enforcement officials from all over the state were attending the California Peace Officers’ Association training conference, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Black Lives Matter activists had announced in advance that their goal was to shut down the COPSWEST Training and Expo in honor of the six month anniversary of the police shooting of Stephon Clark, the Los Angeles Times reported.
After Deputy Stasyuk was murdered on Sept. 17, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones told police supporters who wanted to know what they could do to help to go down to the convention center and support law enforcement, according to the Sacramento Bee.
“I know people have this overwhelming urge to do what they can and not knowing what to do,” Sheriff Jones said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “One of the things you can do is go down there, go down to the convention center tomorrow between 11 and 1 and show your support for law enforcement while they continue to protest law enforcement.”
Afterwards, he apologized to his Sacramento police counterparts and said he hadn’t been trying to make more work for them.
“That was not the intent at all… it was meant to be an outlet,” Sheriff Jones said, according to the Sacramento Bee.
His good intentions inspired several dozen pro-police citizens, who carried American and Thin Blue Line flags, to show up in front of the police meeting and wave their colors.
Robert Dixon arrived at the protest wearing a flag shirt, carrying an American flag and a “God Bless the police” sign.
“I’m out here to support the police,” Dixon told the Sacramento Bee. “God bless the police. This is un-American out here, we don’t need this.”
For some of the police supporters, their counter-protest was much more personal.
Several of Deputy Stasyuk’s childhood friends were there carrying posters with the slain deputy’s picture on them, and waving Thin Blue Line flags.
“This is a long time childhood friend of mine, and he had his life taken from him too young,” Stephen Long told the Sacramento Bee on Facebook Live.
Long said that Deputy Stasyuk had been studying psychology because he wanted to learn how to help people instead of just arresting them.
“He did everything he possibly could, he was going to school for psychology… and what he got for that was violence,” Long said, as Black Lives Matter protesters chanted in the background.
At one point, the police supporters and Black Lives Matter protesters ended up on the same street corner, screaming and yelling into each other’s face “All Lives Matter” and “Black Lives Matter.”
However, nobody got out of control and no arrests had to be made at the demonstration, Sacramento Police Sergeant Vance Chandler told the Los Angeles Times.
Black Lives Matter protesters dragged 17 purple coffins into the roadway and illegally blocked traffic at J and 13 Streets, ignoring numerous police commands to disperse.
When police showed up in crowd-control gear, carrying batons and tear gas, the Black Lives Matter protesters finally got out of the way.
“Let’s do something different, let’s march,” Sacramento Black Lives Matter founder Tanya Faison suggested to the protesters, according to the Sacramento Bee.
The group marched a few blocks away, but then circled back and put their purple makeshift coffins back into the traffic lanes and got inside them again.
Finally, officers with crowd-control gear cleared the protesters from the traffic lanes for a second time, and then they dragged the coffins out of the road to put an end to that demonstration.
Sheriff Jones told the Sacramento Bee the protest had gone off “as expected without conflict or controversy.”
“It’s a testament to Sacramento that we can have different viewpoints, but that we still keep it civil. The difficulty for me is getting everyone through it,” the sheriff said, referring to the murder of Deputy Stasyuk. “It’s definitely a shock, but we understand the gravity of what we do.”