Perhaps realizing initial statements gave short shrift to the violent episodes outside of Donald Trump’s rally Thursday night at the San Jose Convention Center, both Mayor Sam Liccardo and the San Jose police released additional comments Friday.
SJPD initially limited its release of information regarding the violent clashes to noting an officer was assaulted and a “few” people were arrested.
Liccardo commended police in his original statement, but seemed to have it both ways in blaming Trump and the people who participated in assaults taking place in the streets following the rally.
In an email blast Friday morning, Liccardo came out more forcefully in a “supplemental statement” condemning the violence.
“I condemn all acts of violence committed against people who exercise their rights to free speech and assembly, regardless of their political views," Liccardo said. “Nothing that Donald Trump says absolves those individuals of responsibility for their violent conduct last ”
Liccardo added that San Jose police and the District Attorney’s office are now investigating incidents of violence.
“Our police department and District Attorney's office will proactively and thoroughly investigate and prosecute the offenders, and Police Chief Eddie Garcia has called for all members of our community who have video and other evidence to submit that information to the authorities so it can be used for arrest of the violent perpetrators,” he said.
In closing, however, Liccardo again cast blame on Trump’s divisive—and many would say racist—rhetoric in stoking tensions that resulted in people brawling in the street, hurling objects at Trump supporters and lighting the Republican presidential candidate’s paraphernalia on fire.
“That said, I think we all need to acknowledge that each of us—presidential candidates, local leaders, and individual citizens—have a responsibility for our own speech," Liccardo said. “It is regrettable that this has become a pattern for cities hosting Mr. Trump across the nation.”
San Jose police issued their own media advisory Friday, noting what actions it took as the media gives closer scrutiny to how well the department conducted crowd control.
In its release, SJPD said it held off in arresting people seen committing crimes because it “had the difficult task of weighing the need to immediately apprehend the suspect(s) against the possibility that police action involving the use of physical force under the circumstances would further insight [sic] the crowd and produce more violent behavior.”
Here is the statement in full:
On Thursday, June 2, 2016, approximately 300-400 protestors gathered outside a Trump rally in San Jose. The San Jose Police Department designated two locations for supporters and demonstrators. The Department had an operations plan in place in an effort to ensure the safety of everyone attending the event. However, officers were confronted by some protestors who became violent, aggressive and began to throw objects in their direction. A majority of the violence occurred at the conclusion of the event. While several physical assaults did occur, the police personnel on scene had the difficult task of weighing the need to immediately apprehend the suspect(s) against the possibility that police action involving the use of physical force under the circumstances would further insight the crowd and produce more violent behavior. As Trump supporters were exiting the Convention Center, officers directed the crowd away from the protestors and suggested alternate routes of egress in order to prevent violence or a large-scale confrontation. This required the forming of crowd control lines of uniformed officers to act as a physical barrier to facilitate the movement of the crowd out of the area. The San Jose Police Department subsequently made four arrests for incidents including assault with a deadly weapon and unlawful assembly. A San Jose Police sergeant suffered minor injuries after a protester struck him with a metal object. The Department is currently reviewing available footage and beginning the investigative process to identify suspects who were involved in criminal behavior, particularly physical assaults, so that warrants can be sought for their arrest. The Police Department encourages any members of the public who witnessed assaults or who are possession of video footage depicting physical assaults to contact the San Jose Police Department and cooperate with the ongoing investigations.
Police Chief Eddie Garcia released his own statement Friday afternoon adding more detail on how the SJPD handled crowd control. He defended the department in noting it is not an “occupying force” and four people were arrested. Here is the full statement:
The violent behavior exhibited by some protestors last night was reprehensible, completely unacceptable and unrepresentative of our democracy and this City. We saw demonstrators behaving poorly and our officers clearing the streets as safely and expeditiously as possible. Officer safety and crowd control techniques are critical and cannot be abandoned when protestors scatter from area to area faster than the police lines can move.
Furthermore, de-escalation techniques are important—not just when someone has a weapon. We are not an “occupying force” and cannot reflect the chaotic tactics of the protestors. Instead, we achieved our goal of clearing the streets and making arrests in an appropriate manner. Our officers should be commended for both their effectiveness and their restraint.
Let me be clear: the violence that occurred last night was not unchecked. Four arrests have already been made, and I have immediately assembled a task force, headed by the Bureau of Investigations Chief Shawny Williams, and in coordination with the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, to review all video evidence and investigate all reported assaults or other crimes from last night’s incident. I’m calling on the public as well as media outlets to submit all video evidence to our Police Department so we can root out those whose intentions were to disrupt our civil democratic process and put the safety and welfare of the public and my officers at risk. We will work tirelessly to hold them accountable and bring them to justice.
The San Jose Police Officers Association (POA) also released a statement saying the union was “disgusted” with the “so called protestors” violent behavior toward citizens and police.
“I'm disgusted by the violent attacks yesterday that have no place in our society or our political process,” said Paul Kelly, president of the POA.
“Our community must band together against those who would soil our First Amendment freedoms and bring to justice those that chose to act like cowards,” said James Gonzales, vice president of the police union.
Anyone who possesses video, photos or other information on people involved in illegal behavior at the rally are urged to contact the San Jose Police Department’s Assaults Unit at 408.537.4161, or by calling 311.
People who wish to remain anonymous are encouraged to call the Crime Stoppers Tip Line, 408. 947-.7867, or upload digital files to this website. A cash reward might be available in some instances. In addition, people can file a crime report online.