Tying African American men killed by law enforcement in other states to deaths in Sacramento, more than 100 protesters affiliated with Black Lives Matter gathered outside Sheriff Scott Jones’ congressional campaign office on Saturday.
Protesters of varying racial backgrounds held signs with slogans like “Stop Killing Us” and “End Systemic Racism Now.” Cars passing on Fair Oaks Boulevard in Carmichael regularly honked.
“We want to let them know we’re not accepting these deaths they’ve been putting in our laps,” said Tanya Faison, a founder of Black Lives Matter’s Sacramento chapter. “The things happening around the country are also happening here in Sacramento.”
The protest came at the end of a tumultuous week in which two killings of black men by law enforcement in Minnesota and Louisiana drew outrage and five police officers in Dallas were killed by a sniper during a protest.
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Locked in a congressional race that promises to be one of the nation’s most contested, Jones is one of Sacramento’s top law enforcement officials at a time of deep scrutiny of policing in Sacramento and elsewhere. Jones has gained prominence with his views on immigration and his permissive concealed carry permit policy. The sheriff, a Republican, is trying to unseat Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove.
As protesters stood outside Saturday, they were backdropped by Scott Jones for Congress signs while a volunteer made phone calls inside the campaign office. Jones said in a statement that protesters were generating “a false narrative in a campaign where they feel threatened by my electoral chances in November.”
“It is unfortunate timing that Black Lives Matter chose to protest just days after five officers were viciously killed at their Dallas demonstration,” Jones said. “They, with full support from my opponents, are trying to create a narrative of a racist department with absolutely no evidence to support it, and in fact all evidence to the contrary.”
Black Lives Matter activists have criticized Jones for deputies killing a man named Adrienne Ludd after a car chase that sheriff’s officials said ended in a shootout. Ludd’s family has accused officers of using excessive force.
Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Tony Turnbull said in a statement that his department has repeatedly provided facts on Ludd’s death to the public. He said the District Attorney’s Office and Inspector General Rick Braziel are reviewing findings from an investigation conducted by the Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau. He also said that Jones asked Braziel to conduct an independent review of the Ludd shooting.
Demonstrators said they wanted Sacramento law enforcement to release more information to the public after killing suspects. They also criticized what they called a toxic culture of policing.
“The way they promote being a police officer, it’s this shoot-em-up, bang-bang mentality,” said Steven Stanford, whose god-brother Dazion Flenaugh was killed in April by Sacramento police officers who said Flenaugh charged at them with knives. “The way they’re trained, they go in scared immediately.”
Killings of black men by police officers in Minnesota and Louisiana again convulsed the country last week. Footage of a man named Philando Castile bleeding out after being shot during a traffic stop drew a rebuke from Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, who said he did not believe the event would have unfolded as it did were Castile white. Surveying that case and the lethal shooting of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La., President Barack Obama argued that “racial disparities” continue to plague the criminal justice system.
While nationwide protests largely unfolded peacefully, at least one shooter opened fire on police officers during a Thursday march in Dallas, killing five. The slain suspect said he wanted to kill white police officers, according to Dallas Police Chief David Brown.
A 56-year-old Oak Park activist named Kevin Carter, wearing a yellow Black Lives Matter T-shirt, warned against conflating the larger movement with the violent actions of the Dallas assailants.
“The individual that shot is like any other lone wolf,” Carter said, drawing a parallel to white supremacist Dylann Roof gunning down worshippers last year at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. “It’s up to us to not try to connect them together.”