“do not come to the protest armed or with an intention to commit violence…We have a large contingent of personnel from every agency in Contra Costa County that will be here on Sunday to assist us.” – Chief Manjit Sappa
Downtown businesses board up out of fear and precaution.
A large protest is expected in Martinez, Sunday afternoon following the painting of a permitted mural on Court Street with the words BLACKLIVESMATTER, and an effort by a couple to paint over it with black paint. They have since been charged with a hate crime. (See related articles here and here)
According to a KPIX5 CBS SF BayArea news report, “several downtown businesses have already boarded up their windows. ‘It’s just added expense, at a time and added frustration, not knowing how this is going to end up,’ explained Ernie Guerrero as he unloaded plywood outside of his restaurant, La Tapatia Mexican Cuisine.”
Message from the Chief of Police
July 11, 2020
As we get closer to Sunday, I thought it would be prudent to share information about our preparation for the protest on Sunday. As it stands, we have all of our dedicated sworn personnel working in the field on Sunday to keep our community safe. They work diligently each and every day to serve our community and will be doing all they can to ensure our community’s safety.
We have a large contingent of personnel from every agency in Contra Costa County that will be here on Sunday to assist us. I want to thank the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office and every Police Chief in Contra Costa County for sending first responders to the City of Martinez in light of the large protest on Sunday. I also want to thank the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District for being great partners and helping plan for any medical needs that may arise.
In the past day, we have been getting information from social media that folks with different viewpoints will be in our city to protest. We have learned that some may be coming with the intention of protecting the community from protestors or protecting the police officers working the event and while I appreciate that thought, DO NOT come to the protest armed or with an intention to commit violence. The job of a police officer in today’s world is tough – it is complicated, difficult, and yet we still have good men and women that come to work each day to help others and safeguard communities. Our officers are fantastic and value the great relationship with our community; it would seem natural that many in our community want to protect us and I could not be more thankful for that thought, but the best protection you can give us is by letting us do our job of protecting our community.
Bringing a weapon of any kind to a peaceful protest or illegally carrying a weapon into our community could serve as a flashpoint for an escalation of events. Please help us keep calm in the community and de-escalate any conflict. Many of our residents and community members are worried, scared, and feel helpless that different groups are converging on our small town; I share their concerns and I implore anyone coming to Martinez on Sunday to strive to put your best foot forward. Feel free to gather, feel free to speak, feel free to exercise your First Amendment Right. Please DO NOT engage in toxic, violent, hateful, or unsafe behavior. It will put everyone at risk and create safety issues for the officers working on Sunday.
In the event that the protest devolves and there are acts of violence or damage in a manner that places the community at risk, we will be forced to disperse the crowd and I want to be transparent in that regard. We will be tolerant and work with all of you for a peaceful event – we implore you to not force us to respond in a manner that requires we take immediate action to end the event. For the sake of our community and everyone involved, we ask that you do all you can to ensure that the event is peaceful. For all protestors – as a community we ask that you do not disrespect us by damaging our city. Be kind and let’s all work together to ensure we have a safe and uneventful day that is positive. I sincerely appreciate you adhering to our request for a safe and peaceful weekend.
Chief of Police
Allen Payton contributed to this report.