Yesterday, large crowds gathered in Santa Rosa to protest the tragic death of Mr. Floyd. There are safe spaces in Santa Rosa to protest, and I want to acknowledge the hundreds of individuals who utilized Old Courthouse Square and our City streets and sidewalks to do so peacefully yesterday afternoon. It saddens me that later in the evening, those with malicious intentions converged upon our community causing harm and damage.
We support the right to peacefully assemble and express anger and disappointment because trust has been violated. We share your anger and frustration in the recent death of George Floyd which has furthered eroded trust nationwide. But I want to be very clear that violence will not be tolerated.
Assaulting and robbing an innocent woman, who just happened to be driving by, is in no way a demonstration of the first amendment. Damaging a church, restaurants, the shopping mall, and other small businesses is also not free speech. Disrupting highway traffic in the middle of the dark night endangers the lives of those committing the act and the lives of unsuspecting motorists.
What we saw last night – that was vandalism, that was destruction, and that was violence against those in our community – that is not a protest, that is simply destructive, criminal activity. We respect and will honor peaceful protests, but do not and will not tolerate these criminal acts.
As multiple public safety emergencies intersect, now more than ever we must stand together and continue the dialogue for change and maintain peace during this difficult time. #santarosastrong, #sonomastrong.