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December 16, 2017

Crackdown on Protestors: Police Adopt New Plan

For weeks, protestors have declared the streets of Fresno theirs, carrying signs denouncing police brutality while joining their voices with protestors across the country following the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

But the most recent protest, on Saturday, caused the biggest disruption to date.

Protestors blocked Blackstone Avenue, near the River Park Shopping Center, chanting, “Killer cops, off our streets!”

“Our officers have been extremely patient with these individuals,” says Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer.

“A protestor will get in the face of the officer, a captain, telling him they hate him all while on video, and our officers are expected to take that.”

Dyer says he supports freedom of speech and the right to protest, but the most recent protest is an example of people breaking the law.

His patience, and the patience of many, is now wearing thin.

“When that spills over into the public right of way, a street or a sidewalk that is blocked, then it requires our enforcement efforts,” he says.

“Citizens have an expectation of us to enforce the laws, equally. And we’re going to do that.”

This week, Chief Dyer and the City Attorney’s Office created a plan of action that, they hope, will keep future protests peaceful — and limit disruptions to the general public.

It starts with reviewing social media posts and police video of previous protests, to identify the organizers.

They will receive warning letters from the City of Fresno.

“What has happened has happened. I’m not going to pursue criminal charges for the past, but in the future, we will,” he says.

“We will be seeking out a warrant for those individuals that are in violation of a misdemeanor obstructing a roadway.”

Those arrested, wouldn’t experience a revolving door at the Fresno County Jail either.

Bench warrants would be signed by a judge, meaning those arrested would be kept in custody.

The police department will also seek restitution for money spent to send officers to control traffic.

In Saturday’s incident, the city spent around $6,000.

“The citizens of Fresno should not have to pay for police officers to be present to block off those roadways and take those police officers away from their neighborhoods,” Dyer says.

He adds that if people really want to protests in the streets, they can go about it the legal way: obtain a parade permit.

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Crackdown on Protestors: Police Adopt New Plan