BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The Bakersfield Police Department said several public areas near its downtown headquarters were vandalized yesterday during gatherings protesting the recent death of Daunte Wright in Minnesota.
The department said two protests were held, one in the afternoon and another in the evening. BPD said while most of the attendees were peaceful, a small number of them vandalized public areas near the headquarters on Truxtun Avenue, including writing offensive phrases with chalk and permanent markers.
BPD said during the day, a makeshift memorial for Wright was placed on the public sidewalk in front of police headquarters. In the late evening hours after most of the attendees had dispersed, the department said officers began to clean the area and fire personnel washed down the surfaces.
BPD said officers asked people who remained in the area to pick up any items from the memorial they wanted to keep.
“Officers provided an opportunity for the subjects to remove items from the front of the department in an effort to maintain a safe and professional image for those who seek police services,” the department said in a news release. “The group appeared to leave the area and abandoned the memorial items, at which time officers removed the memorial and other items left behind on the public sidewalk.”
Erika Harris — an organizer for the group 661 Voices Heard, which held a march to police headquarters yesterday — said in a social media post that officers began taking down the memorial too quickly after the vigil ended.
“Bakersfield Police rips down vigil for Daunte Wright and Adam Toledo. Not even 5 mins after people left,” she said. “They even left the glass from the candles (that) broke on the ground. This is disgusting.”
BPD said there was no intention to be disrespectful when officers cleared the area.
“We recognize the community is grieving the tragic loss of Wright, and encourage peaceful gatherings,” the department said. “As we do with any actions we undertake, we will review the appropriateness for future occurrences.”