Police officers in San Luis Obispo County wore mourning bands on their badges Friday in honor of the five officers slain Thursday night in Dallas, while about 40 activists showed their support for the Black Lives Matter movement by holding signs and standing silently at a concert in Mission Plaza.
“Our thoughts and our hearts are with those in Dallas right now,” said Lt. Ty Lewis of the Paso Robles Police Department, whose officers participated in the badge tribute.
The demonstrators in San Luis Obispo, which included members of the Universal Unitarian Fellowship, SLO Solidarity and concerned residents, organized a peaceful action Friday evening in response to recent officer-involved killings.
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“The horrific details that many of us saw in social media prompted me to take action,” said Courtney Haile, a San Luis Obispo resident who helped coordinate the protest. “While planning it, the incident in Dallas occurred last night. We all, of course, denounce that. It’s not anti-police sentiment, but anti-police violence.”
It’s important to stand for the value of black life and show the world there are people in SLO who aren’t afraid to confront these issues.
Courtney Haile, Black Lives Matter community activist
Haile said that many good police officers exist, but the “bad apples” have overwhelmingly targeted black victims in cases of police brutality.
“It’s important to stand for the value of black life and show the world there are people in SLO who aren’t afraid to confront these issues,” Haile said.
Just days after Alton Sterling was shot by police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, at least one gunman opened fire on police officers during a gathering in downtown Dallas protesting the shootings.
San Luis Obispo demonstrators on Friday rallied against recent police shootings of black men and joined county law enforcement officials in mourning the loss of the five Dallas police officers who were fatally shot Thursday night.
“We have to understand the fear of black people of police in their communities, and we have to understand the fear of police going into communities, but that doesn’t justify the violence in any way, shape or form,” Arroyo Grande resident Ken Hill said.
San Luis Obispo police Chief Deanna Cantrell and a handful of officers were on hand for the protest and to monitor the happenings at the concert.
Our thoughts and our hearts are with those in Dallas right now.
Lt. Ty Lewis, Paso Robles Police Department
While officers with many San Luis Obispo County enforcement agencies wore the black mourning bands on their badges to honor their fallen colleagues, local departments said they aren’t planning any changes in light of the shooting.
“Police work is police work,” said Pismo Beach police Chief Jake Miller. “We’re just taking this as an opportunity to remind everyone to be extra vigilant, be aware, but keep offering the service we do.”
Miller said there are no plans to increase patrols or implement additional safety measures at the Pismo Beach department, noting that the local force isn’t big enough to sustain two-person patrols as some larger cities have begun doing.
The same is true at the Grover Beach Police Department, where Chief John Peters said he told patrols Friday morning that this was “another reminder to stay vigilant and stay safe.” Otherwise, the department won’t make any be making any changes to its normal operating procedures, he said.
Tribune staff writer Kaytlyn Leslie contributed to this report.