The Walnut Creek Police Department released a slew of social media posts, some calling for peaceful protests and others calling for looting and wreaking havoc in affluent, mostly white neighborhoods.
On May 30, protests for George Floyd were peaceful but by May 31, about 600 people were involved in looting in Broadway Plaza, costing businesses between $3 million to $4 million, police about $50,000 in extra officers and triggering a state of emergency and local curfew.
“All of this was happening because they were stealing? No. Because POC were not welcome in town,” said resident Safi Hasani.
Protesters say police intimidated even peaceful protesters with military-style tactics and tear gas.
“I witnessed high school students – my high school students – get tear gassed,” said Emmy Akin, a Walnut Creek teacher.
On June 1, police say crowds pushed past officers and caused chaos on Interstate 680. SWAT teams deployed armored vehicles and gave a stern warning to protesters, “If you do not move, you will be dead,” said resident Kristen Cervero.
Police dispute this, saying bodycam footage shows the officer saying, “Move or you will be gassed.”
Some residents say the police tactics were justified.
“When you go on the freeway like that, you’re putting other people in danger who didn’t want to be part of that movement,” one resident named Kevin said.
Protesters say they want police funds redirected to social services.
“You don’t care,” said resident Kelley Ho. “Our cries unanswered.”
No answers so far and no action taken in Walnut Creek and probably not until next month, when the council is scheduled to meet again.