About 100 somber demonstrators, some displaying photos of lost loved ones in blue, rallied on the west steps of the Capitol on Sunday to honor the officers slain in Dallas and Baton Rouge and the thousands more who risk their lives every day.
“I want to say thanks for all those officers who still answer the calls,” said event organizer Jake Shockley, a private security guard from West Sacramento. “It’s about time an event like this happened, that we show the law enforcement community we love and care for them and literally have their back. If there’s an officer that’s bad, it doesn’t mean the rest are also bad.”
Nicole Romans of Roseville told the crowd she was there to honor her late husband, Erwin Romans II, one of four Oakland police officers shot to death during a traffic stop gone bad on March 31, 2009. The shooter, Lovelle Mixon, had just committed a double rape at gunpoint and killed the officers with guns stolen in Lodi, Romans said. “I’m half black and half white, and I never said a black man killed my husband,” she added. “It’s not about color. You have a choice to put your hands on the steering wheel. I’m numb and devastated by the loss of life in general. I choose peace and love.”
The Rio Americano High School graduate recalled the day her children had to stand next to their father’s casket while the bagpipes played “Amazing Grace,” “and now the loved ones of those slain officers have to walk in my shoes. When an officer dies, there’s a ripple effect – at least 100 other people are directly affected. People are scared, wives are scared, friends are scared.”
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Romans’ brother Larry Brown II, a retired El Dorado County sheriff’s deputy who still serves as a paramedic, waved the American flag and asked the crowd, “Mayor Johnson, where are you? Supervisors, where are you? Where’s our governor? Where’s our president? They’re the ones sending us out to do the job of protecting society.”
Brown, 57, said that in the wake of the recent killings of African American men by police and the subsequent slaying of officers, “it disturbs me that there’s not this outpouring of support from all patriotic Americans. When we take people’s lives away, whether they’re black, blue, white or orange lives, you’re taking away their constitutional rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Brown, who identifies as African American, said that if people follow officers’ directions “they will walk away safe. I have never met one officer that went out to hurt anybody. From domestic violence to a traffic stop, there are always two sides to every story. Officers are asked to make split-second decisions.”
After the rally, Brown recalled the time he stopped a suspect who turned out to be a teenager who was deaf mute. “He didn’t follow directions, but I didn’t pull the trigger, I wrestled him down. Once you pull your gun out of your holster, you have to be prepared to use it.”
I’m numb and devastated by the loss of life in general. I choose peace and love.
Nicole Romans, whose husband, Officer Erwin Romans II, was killed during an Oakland traffic stop
Those who shared their personal heartbreak at the rally included Joyce Oliver, the mother of slain Sacramento County Sheriff’s Deputy Danny Oliver. Deputy Oliver died along with Placer County Sheriff’s Detective Michael David Davis Jr. in October 2014. Luis Enriquez Monroy Bracamontes confessed to the crimes.
“I’m extremely proud of my son – he was a good son, a good father, a good husband and an awesome deputy sheriff ... I miss him every day. If he was still alive he would be out there taking out the bad guy,” Oliver said tearfully. “In all the years he was a deputy, he never pulled his gun.”
Oliver said her son was raised in Del Paso Heights, graduated from Grant High and played baseball, basketball and football with his friends and classmates of all races. She said the Danny Oliver Foundation provides scholarships for Grant High graduates in his name and said she hopes that as more young people get help there will be less violence.
Chris Marzan, a south Sacramento father of three whose brother is a police officer in Texas, urged the crowd to help educate young people before things go bad. “We’ve got to teach our children civic duty, honor, responsibility and respect,” Marzan said. “If they can’t respect their teachers, they won’t respect law enforcement at all.”
Matthew Wiley, a 24-year-old Sacramentan whose late father worked in police internal affairs, said he respected every officer he’s ever met and added, “I’m very saddened by my generation, more and more they’re hooligans and a disgrace. I’ve lost too many of my friends over stupid s--t with guns.”