Last Saturday hundreds of impassioned young demonstrators took to the streets of downtown Sacramento to show solidarity with protests in Minneapolis and around the country about the continual problem of police murder, brutality and impunity. The demonstration marched around downtown with SacPD tailing them the whole way.
The demonstration later moved across the bridge into West Sacramento and went past the Baseball Arena before attempting to get onto the freeway. CHP officers blocked the ramp onto the freeway, and as the situation grew more tense, CHP apparently ordered/authorized officers to initiate violence against this peaceful protest.
This attack on young demonstrators was brutal and unexpected. Many people there probably had not demonstrated before, and now this will be their memory of how police treat peaceful demonstrations. The justified anger caused by this and subsequent violence by CHP, SacPD and Sac Sheriffs was a key factor in the events that followed.
A Sacramento Solidarity Network member at the scene recalls a young woman in tears screaming, “Run! They’re beating us!” to those behind her in the crowd. People need to understand how often police initiate violence to understand why things played out the way they have in Sacramento in the past few days. CHP attacking this peaceful protest teaches young people that peaceful protest is not enough.
Corporate media are quick to white-wash incidents like this. In other places outlets have even edited raw video to create the impression that protesters attacked police when the opposite was true. They and the police are acting with very little foresight and undermining their own institutions in the long term in order to meet momentary objectives.
As we discuss what is going on in our city and around the world right now, remember that here in Sacramento, as well as elsewhere, cops attacked first. The nature of the attack on Saturday afternoon was very traumatic for many young (approx. 16-24 year old) people present. People were were beaten with clubs as a tactic for dispersing the demonstration and driving it back from the freeway. A pregnant woman told the Sacramento Bee she was hit in the stomach by an officer.
We hope that our community can soon have the space to heal that was so urgently needed, but tragically extinguished, this past Saturday.