FRESNO, California (KSEE) — Fresno’s largest demonstration centering around George Floyd and police brutality strayed from other national protests by remaining largely peaceful. None of the hundreds of police officers there didn’t make an arrest, either.
The city’s top cop also applauded organizers of the We Can’t Breathe protest for helping to keep it peaceful, promising changes in the police department.
However, organizers hope those promises aren’t empty.
The protest, largely organized by the Fresno State NAACP Chapter, got together in less than 48 hours. The chapter’s president, D’Aungilique Jackson, said after talking with the city’s PARCS department — she got connected with Fresno Police fast.
Jackson and other organizers’ goals were to allow people to mourn George Floyd, as well as keep it peaceful with no rioting.
More than 200 officers were assigned to the event, including some from other agencies like Clovis Police and Reedley Police. Officers shut down roads to keep protesters safe as they marched the streets.
While the collaboration is appreciated, Jackson said not all officers seemed to be on the same page at the protest.
“It felt like the officers I was working with genuinely want to see a change. [However], me saying that does not mean I’m speaking for all Fresno Police because we also had police officers there trying to incite violence. If we weren’t as organized as we were, it would’ve escalated,” she said.
That’s why the protest — particularly when the crowd moved to the front of Fresno Police headquarters — also took aim at the department.
When Jackson took to the mic at the stage set up there, she read off a list of demands and changes organizers would like to see from Fresno Police. Some on the list include justice for every minority killed by police in the city, anti-bias training and more diversity.
The list was read off right in front of Hall and all of Fresno Police leadership. Hall said all of the concerns were heard loud and clear.
“I want to do better, I think all of our staff and officers [also] want to do better. What happened today, this motivates me so much more to be a better police department,” he said.
But Jackson said Hall’s words are empty if actual action doesn’t happen.
“It’s one thing to step up and say we agree with them before the event, during the vent, and right after. That’s where the publicity is,” she said. “It’s another thing to really be there with us a month in and genuinely be looking at this plan — saying how can we implement it.”
Police had intel other groups could be coming to agitate the protest. That information also caused organizers to end the event early to avoid any potential rioting.
Hall said they’ll be keeping contact with community leaders and monitoring social media to be alert of these groups.
For the next several days, officers will be keeping a closer eye on retail businesses, according to Hall. Extra patrols will also be out throughout the city.