Central Valley protests largely peaceful, but incident in Visalia launches police investigation


FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE)– Chants filled the air all over the Central Valley on Saturday as many took to the streets to share grief and anger over what happened to George Floyd.

For the most part, police didn’t have too many problems with any of the demonstrations.

But, Visalia Police are investigating an incident involving two protesters who were hit by a blue Jeep.

Valerie Packard made sure her voice was heard at the demonstration at Blackstone and Nees Avenues in Fresno.

For her, police brutality is an issue that hits close to home.

“In 1979, I had a brother killed by the police. [I also] have a cousin that got killed by police,” she said.

She brought her daughters to the demonstration as well. All of them just frustrated over the issue.

“No one’s doing anything about it. We’re tired,” Ronshanique Packard said. She and Valerie Packard noted “we” means people of all races, going off the crowd who showed up.”

Demonstrations were also held in Merced and Visalia. At one point, the one in Visalia took a turn for the worst. Cell phone video that circulated on social media depicted the moment two girls got hit by a Jeep in the middle of Mooney Boulevard.

Visalia Police tweeted about the incident, saying the girls suffered minor injuries and an investigation has begun.

The people in the Jeep were identified on social media as possible Fresno State students. The university on Twitter addressed the incident, saying it’s looking to see if they really are students. If so, the university will do a thorough student-conduct review with them.

Meanwhile, Fresnans again gathered around 7 p.m., this time in Downtown Fresno. Like the one earlier, tensions relatively low.

At one point, police essentially escorted protesters to keep them safe as they marched on the road. Wherever they demonstrated, all protesters just hope their voices were heard.

“I’m not sure what’s gonna happen, but I could only hope for the best and they prosecute all police officers from here on out,” said Keanna Jackson. “That’s what we hope, that’s why we’re out here doing this.”

Many Fresno leaders issued statements Saturday about George Floyd — including Mayor Lee Brand, mayor-elect Jerry Dyer, Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mins and Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp.

All condemned what happened and wished for peaceful protests.

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