Just as Black Lives Matter protesters in Oakland shut down a portion of the highway to decry police violence against people of color, a pro-police group in San Jose jammed up traffic Friday to express their counter point of view.
Tena Bolz, a retired San Jose police officer of 27 years, said she was driving her daughter to swim practice about 8:30 a.m. and saw more than a dozen people atop the pedestrian overpass on northbound Highway 85 between Almaden Expressway and Camden Avenue.
The loosely knit Blue Lives Matter protesters, as they have been called, were holding up signs, and American flags, only with black and blue stripes. Commuters passed by, many slowing down, and jammed up traffic all the way to Highway 87.
“People were slowing down to honk, literally traffic was crawling at five miles an hour,” Bolz said. “It was awesome. This was an attack on America. We can’t ignore that. I didn’t mind the delay in traffic.”
The attack she was referring to occurred in Dallas on Thursday night, when Micah Xavier Johnson killed five police officers and injured seven others. As a result, police agencies around the country have come together in solidarity, some even pairing up with buddies to look out for one another.
At the same time, anti-police groups have rallied and protested around the country, too. Many have been peaceful, or have started out peacefully, but have gotten rowdier later in the evening. In Oakland, for example, “Shut it Down” protesters blocked a freeway, broke store windows and wrote “MURDERERS” at police headquarters.
President Barack Obama addressed the thorny issue, trying to strike a balance between black people disproportionately getting killed by police, and officers who, by and large, protect and serve.
Speaking in Warsaw, Obama told reporters: “We also know that when people are armed with powerful weapons, it makes shootings like this more deadly and more tragic," he said.
But Obama quickly added his immediate concern was for the officers and their families. "Today is a wrenching reminder of the sacrifices they make for us," he said. "They are heartbroken. Police across America, which is a tight-knit family, feels this loss to their core. And we're grieving with them."
Bolz, who is part Latina, East Indian, Native American and black, said she agrees that “all lives matter,” not just blue, not just black. But she called what happened in Dallas an act of “domestic terrorism.” And she said that explosive term applies to any perpetrator of violence who causes harm using Black Lives Matter as an ideology.
“Shooting police officers is uncalled for,” she said. “People don’t want to see violence, no matter what.”