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Both painted rocks in El Dorado Hills back to blue again to honor Tara O’Sullivan

Both of the rocks in El Dorado Hills are back to being blue Tuesday to honor slain Sacramento Police Officer Tara O’Sullivan.

The boulders were painted bright blue Friday to honor O’Sullivan, who was killed in the line of duty June 19. One of them had a silver badge with the phrase “Sacramento 349 Police,” in reference to O’Sullivan’s badge number, along with “Officer O’Sullivan” and “E.O.W. 6.19.19.” The other had a tree, “Tara” and a depiction of SpongeBob SquarePants.

A note was left at the rocks along El Dorado Boulevard that said, “Please allow this tribute to remain until funeral services for the fallen officer have been completed. Thank you for your support and understanding.”

By Monday morning, both rocks had been painted over with LGBT pride flags, according to El Dorado Hills resident Sarrah Willis. Willis had stopped by the boulders around 6 a.m. that morning and was “appalled” to see the rocks “defaced.”

Willis said that O’Sullivan died protecting the community, and “no one should be touching (the rock) until the services.”

However, she said she supported LGBT rights and wasn’t against the pride flag imagery itself.

“It’s not about what it was, it’s about the fact that they covered over (the rock),” she said.

The rock that originally had the silver badge was restored later that morning to be almost exactly the same, Willis said. The restoration added the words “Live with honor, serve with pride” and a four-leaf clover to the rock, emblematic of O’Sullivan’s Irish heritage.

On Tuesday, the initial SpongeBob rock that was covered with a LGBT flag was painted blue again with a police flag and the phrase “Rock is back to blue for you Tara!”

The rock had already been painted blue when Willis arrived in the morning; she added the police flag to it.

Scott Elliott visited the rocks with his daughter, Riley Elliott, on Tuesday morning. They drive past the rocks almost daily and saw the rocks being painted blue the first time on Friday.

Then, they found out that the rocks had been painted over.

“It kind of saddened me, I was surprised that it happened so quickly,” Scott Elliot said.

Ssome people on social media also took offense. One Twitter user called the action “disgusting.”

“These rocks have an ever evolving display of paint. Often left for weeks,” they wrote. “The day after they were painted in honor of Officer O’Sullivan, they were painted over for Pride. Makes me ashamed.”

Riley Elliot said that when something happens like this, the rocks usually stay for a couple of weeks. The rocks were painted last year to honor a different officer that had died, she said.

“It was just kind of rude and sad to see that someone decided to paint over it so fast and quickly,” she said.

Matt Stone, 33, a Fremont police officer, was visiting family in the area and heard about the rocks. He visited the rocks with his family Monday afternoon and said he appreciated the El Dorado Hills community’s supportive response to O’Sullivan’s death. “This is why we want to move here,” he said, gesturing to his wife and children.

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Jaimie Ding, from Scripps College, is a local news reporter for The Sacramento Bee with an interest in politics and international relations. She grew up in Vancouver, Washington.
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