Hollister Interim Police Chief Carlos Reynoso sent out a statement reassuring local residents that organizers of a June 6 protest in the city’s downtown plan to keep it peaceful.
The protest is scheduled to start at 12pm at the San Benito High School parking lot, according to a flyer promoting the event on social media. The protest is billed as a “positive demonstration” in support of Black Lives Matter and justice for George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis Police custody May 25.
“Positive vibes only,” reads the flyer, which also encourages attendees to wear face masks and practice social distancing due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Reynoso sent out a press release June 2 stating that his officers have been in contact with the protest organizers, and police will be present during the event.
The police chief’s statement addresses concerns that some recent protests in other cities in the U.S.—also in response to the death of Floyd—have turned destructive. He said his department’s plan is to allow the organizers and protesters to practice their freedom of speech, and keep the event safe for everyone.
Reynoso’s statement reads, in full:
The Hollister Police Department has received information of a planned peaceful protest in Hollister. The Police Department is taking steps in an effort to keep the event safe.
We understand the concerns from citizens that have been contacting our department, in light of the reports of looting and rioting taking place in cities around the United States. The police department would like to keep our community updated in regards to planned events in Hollister. Our department shares those same concerns and we have been taking steps to try and keep our community safe. We are working with our public safety partners to provide additional resources if needed.
However, this department also takes seriously our responsibility to ensure that we protect the constitutional rights of everyone to peacefully assemble and exercise their freedom of speech.
The Hollister Police Department has been contacted by organizers of a planned protest in Hollister scheduled for Saturday morning. The event is being advertised as the group “Black lives matter” and they have expressed their desire to march peacefully in protest in our community in regards to the unlawful killing of Mr. George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The organizers have been very good in communicating their plan with police and ensuring their event is peaceful. Our officers will be present at the event in an effort to keep the event safe for everyone. We want to thank everyone who has reached out to us with their concerns.
Chief ‘shocked’ by Floyd incident
On May 30, Reynoso issued the following statement about the death of Floyd:
The Hollister Police Department usually does not comment on use of force incidents that happen in other states or that are in the process of being investigated. I always encourage everyone to wait for the full story to come out and to seek out and pressure our government officials in charge to make sure that justice prevails. However, after seeing the video of the Minneapolis Police Officers dealing with Mr. George Floyd during an arrest, I felt the need to speak out.
I know that I speak for my entire department when I say my heart breaks for Mr. Floyd and his friends and family. This is a man that was in obvious distress and the initial evidence confirms that. I want everyone to be clear there is no police training that requires or calls for an officer to place their knee on someone’s neck for over 8 minutes. I was shocked to see Mr. Floyd pleading for help and those that have sworn an oath to help others were deaf to his pleas.
What we saw on that video is not how we train and what we expect from our officers. As a Sergeant, Captain and now as Interim Chief of Police with the Hollister Police Department, I have been involved in the hiring of many of our officers. Our officers go through an intensive and comprehensive hiring process. When our officers get through all the testing and they reach the final stage of being hired I have just one main rule that I ask of them. I remind them they are public servants and their badge comes with a huge responsibility and I ask them to treat the public, like they would want their mothers, fathers and children treated.
Growing up in Hollister, I witnessed several instances of unequal treatment of the law based on the color of the skin or privilege. These injustices inspired me to seek a career in law enforcement to make a difference. Since my first day as an officer, I tried my best to treat everyone equally, regardless of their color, how much money they had or their last name. From the first day as a supervisor, I have held those standards on those that work for me.
As a minority, I know how it feels to be treated differently based on the color of my skin. I have been refused service at businesses as a student and have felt the eyes of security officers as they follow me through businesses. When I feel that familiar ugly sense from others, I often wonder how they would feel if they only knew that my job was to risk my life for them or their family.
My father came to this country with nothing, worked as a farmworker and worked his way to own his own business. He always taught me to treat those that hate with kindness; he would say make them feel bad for thinking so little of you.
I am proud of our department and how we represent and reflect our community. We have officers from different backgrounds, we have minority officers, we have bilingual officers and we are a department full of officers who care about the community and are committed to making Hollister a great place to live.
I know I speak for our officers when I say we are all demanding justice for Mr. George Floyd and anyone else who our nation’s justice system has failed. The state and local justice systems across our nation should do better.