Fresno police plan to take action against the organizers of Saturday’s police-shooting protest that shut down major avenues in north Fresno, Chief Jerry Dyer said Sunday.
Dyer said his department had an agreement with the main organizers of the march that people would not step onto the streets. The demonstration, which drew hundreds who marched through north Fresno and into Clovis, protested recent officer-involved shootings locally and nationwide.
About 5:30 p.m., several dozens of people began pouring into the Blackstone and Shaw avenue intersection, crippling traffic.
“They made the decision to go out onto the street,” Dyer said Sunday. “That became a safety concern.”
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Dyer said officers told an organizer in advance that people would not be allowed on the streets.
“In the very near future, we will be following up with some enforcement action against him,” Dyer said. He added that there are other protest leaders his department is looking into as well.
While the vast majority of the demonstrators did it peacefully, there were small groups that became antagonistic toward officers, Dyer said.
In video that his department is reviewing, Dyer said he hopes to locate an incident where some protesters threw rocks at motorcycle officers. In video he has seen, a protester punched an individual in the face.
“Our job is to identify those individuals and take action,” Dyer said Sunday afternoon.
From within the protest with Facebook Live streams, to security cameras at street lights and shopping centers like Fashion Fair, Dyer said his officers were always one step ahead of the protest.
The demonstration drew hundreds to northeast Fresno streets, shutting out traffic to large portions of Shaw Avenue as it made its way to the city of Clovis.
“Our job was to make sure they had a peaceful protest,” Dyer said.
Dyer said only one person, not involved with the protest, was arrested by the time the protest ran down to Save Mart Center. Dyer said the man was arrested for his own safety.
By 11 p.m., FAX buses, driven by police officers, picked up protesters and transported them to the initial location. Fresno Pastor D.J. Criner arranged the transportation with Dyer.
“We did that for the purpose of not having them march through the city of Clovis,” Dyer said.
Clovis Police Department Sgt. Kristina Hershberger said when the protest spilled into Clovis, it never got out of hand.
“It was pretty peaceful, as far as the city limits,” Hershberger said.
Hershberger said “no significant” injuries were reported and that the department, in light of the Dallas attack on police, had already expanded the force for security reasons.
When the protest moved toward the city, Hershberger said, her department was well-staffed and had assistance from the Fresno Police Department.
Dyer says policing protests hurts residents in other parts of the city.
“These individuals are pulling police officers from the very neighborhoods that they are from,” Dyer said.
But the chief said his department is prepared to handle more protests in the future.
“I’m fully anticipating more protests,” Dyers said. “This has become the norm.”