San Jose Chief of Police Eddie Garcia, who is under fire for his handling of rioters in his city Thursday night after a Trump rally, promised a “progressive” administration in a post-Ferguson environment when he was first sworn in.
According to The San Jose Mercury News, back in late January Garcia stressed deploying de-escalation strategies before using force in riot situations.
“We have to be progressive. We have to listen to what the community says,” he said. “Our officers don’t have their heads in the sand. They see what’s going on in other places. There are things we can do better, and we have to put policies in place before someone else does it for us,” Garcia said of his pledge to enact a no chokehold policy in his department.
However, according to the Mercury News, chokeholds were never part of SJPD regulations to begin with.
Garcia also promised to recruit men and women into the department who looked more like the city’s population, saying at the time, “As we grow, we have to grow right. I’d rather have 30 people in the academy who are different than 48 who look alike.”
Garcia insists he and his officers did everything they could to keep people safe at the Trump rally, but there were not enough officers available to handle every violent incident that happened, he told reporters Friday.
“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,” Garcia said. “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.”
He added, “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.”
Critics of the San Jose Police Chief tweeted at Garcia a January tweet of his announcing his participation in a La Raza of California round table discussion. It is unknown if this organization helped organize the protest, but the Latino activist organization known as the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) already stated to The Washington Post their organization was not involved in the San Jose demonstrations and that their organization’s name is routinely confused with others who use a similar name.
“People have a right to be angry. We’re angry, too. But violence is never the answer,” Janet Murguía, president of NCLR said. “We’re all now looking at this and thinking that we need to step up in different ways. I’m prepared to do that, and I know there will be others as well. In no way, shape or form should violence ever be the answer. It is incumbent upon us as leaders in this community to condemn this.”
Garcia and his department were criticized for holding their lines and allowing violent outbursts from rioters to erupt against Trump supporters as the attendees left the convention center. Some attendees were sucker punched, spat on, egged or robbed of their Trump ball caps and campaign signs by individuals who ABC News identified as Latino gang members.