A downtown Napa rally announced for Sunday afternoon to protest racism and police brutality in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis has been canceled, an organizer and Napa Police said.
In an email Saturday evening, organizer Irit Weir said Women's March Napa Valley canceled the protest – planned for 3 to 6 p.m. outside the Napa police station and city hall – after Police Chief Robert Plummer advised that “groups from out of town” planned to come to Napa during the demonstration. On Sunday morning, Plummer confirmed the rally was off and that Napa Police had received reports of outside groups possibly planning to enter the city for the event.
In case people arrive downtown to protest unofficially, “we'll make sure the protesters have their opportunity to express their First Amendment rights as long as they are peaceful and do no harm,” said Plummer, who added Napa Police planned to send a larger number of uniformed officers in the city center on Sunday.
The Napa protest was to take place six days after Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, died after being restrained by four Minneapolis police officers. A widely shared video shows one of the officers leaning a knee to Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes as he struggles to breathe.
The death has sparked a wave of often violent protests in numerous U.S. cities, which in Minneapolis have been marked by widespread looting and fires that led Minnesota to call up thousands of National Guard members to bolster an overwhelmed police force.
State officials including Gov. Tim Walz have suggested that as many as 80 percent of those arrested on suspicion of looting, vandalism and riot-related offenses during the unrest are from out of state. However, a study of county jail logs indicates most of the arrested live in Minnesota, though some suspects reside as far away as Florida and Alaska, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Law enforcement agencies in Napa and St. Helena issued statements Saturday night condemning racial bias and brutality.
“There is nothing more central to the principles of Napa law enforcement than the dignity of human life and the refusal to allow brutality and inequity besmirch our efforts to serve our beautiful and diverse community,” read a statement jointly issued by Plummer, Napa County Sheriff John Robertson and District Attorney Allison Haley. “... We have the profound duty and responsibility to dismantle generations of inequity and continue to build systems of justice that represent a better way forward.”
Editor's note: This item has been amended to correct the name of George Floyd.
You can reach Howard Yune at 707-256-2214 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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