Chief Defends Handling of Trump Rally Riot

SAN JOSE (CN) — San Jose’s police chief praised his officers and dismissed complaints that they failed to protect Donald Trump supporters from protesters after a nighttime rally.
     “What happened last night was disgraceful and we are not going to tolerate it,” Police Chief Eddie Garcia said Friday. “Those responsible for doing what they did have no place in the city of San Jose.”
     Several sets of protesters attacked Trump supporters Thursday night as they left the rally. Videos showed one supporter being hit with a blunt object from behind, leaving him bloodied. Other videos emerged of protesters sucker-punching Trump supporters as they left the Convention Center in downtown San Jose. Other supporters were pelted with food and spat upon, according to multiple reports.
     “Their actions disrupted the civil democratic process and put public safety and the safety of my officers at risk,” Garcia said. “The violence will not go unchecked.”
     Police arrested four people and charged three of them with assault with a deadly weapon. Garcia said he has assembled a task force to analyze videos, identify other attackers and hold them accountable.
     “We will review all video evidence and investigate reported assaults,” he said.
     At the news conference, Garcia fended off jabs that his officers did not do enough to protect victims of the protesters. He said that officers are trained to hold the line, and that officers who dive into a divisive crowd situation could exacerbate the problems.
     “We have to make a decision at the time whether something is a life or death situation or not,” he said.
     Garcia conceded that in hindsight he should have had more officers at the ready. He had to pull officers from departments in Santa Clara, Palo Alto, Campbell and Milpitas to bolster his forces as the night wore on and the violence became increasingly difficult to contain.
     “Our police moved as expeditiously as possible,” he said. “But the line cannot be abandoned and the protesters were able to scatter from area to area faster than we could move. We are not an occupying force and we cannot reflect the chaotic tactics of the protesters.”
     San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo walked back statements that blamed Trump supporters for much of 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 in a statement Friday afternoon. “Nothing that Donald Trump says absolves those individuals of responsibility for their violent conduct last night.”
     Liccardo said he supported the police and district attorney’s efforts to locate and charge those responsible for committing assaults. But the mayor did not fully excuse Trump’s contributions, saying there is a pattern of violence that seems related to the incendiary rhetoric of the presidential candidate.”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.”

%d bloggers like this: