UPDATE 5:52 p.m. -- The Sacramento Police Department called the killings of police officers in Dallas "senseless" and say law enforcement have been impacted around the nations, including police in Sacramento.
Sacramento Police Chief Sam Somers held a news conference Friday afternoon. Capital Public Radio Reporter Ja'Nel Johnson was there.
Somers expressed shock and sadness at the events in Dallas last night. He said the department is encouraging officers to be diligent in protecting citizens and themselves.
A demonstration to protest police shootings of black men is set to take place at 6 p.m. at the Capitol. Somers said it was difficult to give a specific response regarding the recent shootings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, but that he hopes people don't rush to judgment.
UPDATE 4:05 p.m.: (AP) — California guards are closing the Capitol early in expectation of a protest of police killings of black people one day after five police officers were killed at a similar rally in Dallas.
The demonstration planned for 6 p.m. Friday is one of many that affiliates of the Black Lives Matter movement organized after 12 officers were shot Thursday.
Police have since been targeted in Tennessee, Georgia and Missouri.
State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon's spokesman, Anthony Reyes, says California Highway Patrol and Sergeants at Arms decided to close the building at 4:30 p.m. instead of 6 p.m. due to the unpermitted protest.
Police were criticized last month for being ill prepared and slow to respond when white supremacists clashed with counter-protesters at a Capitol rally, injuring 10 people.
Original Post -- People gathered in cities across the nation to protest police shootings of two black men Thursday night, including a march in Sacramento. After news of the shootings in Dallas and the death of five law enforcement officers, many people wondered could these kinds of things happen in the Sacramento community? Could tensions here reach a breaking point? Could we become the next Ferguson, St. Paul, Baton Rouge or Dallas?
Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson addressed these concerns in a statement Friday morning.
"In Sacramento, I have reached out to our police chief who is working diligently to ensure our men and women in uniform are protected from similar acts of violence as in Dallas, as well as continuing to implement recommendations from President Obama’s 21 Century Task Force and our Officer Next Door Program so that we do not see the tragedies of Ferguson, St. Paul, Baton Rouge and too many other communities fall on our great city."
Johnson also announced the city will fly all flags at half-staff and the lights of city hall will be red, white and blue as a sign of solidarity.
Les Simmons is the Sacramento ACT Clergy Leader and Pastor at South Sacramento Christian Center. He says while there is a growing mountain of frustration and pain from the shootings, no officer should be killed as retaliation.
"We have to get to a place where we are all standing together," Simmons says.
Simmons mentions a term going around the nation and in Sacramento: sawa bona, which translates to “I see you.” This term is being used to acknowledge the pains and stories of both blacks and law enforcement.
Programs like "Summer Night Lights" and Cops and Clergy are meant to be Sacramento’s form of sawa bona, which Simmons says is still too early in development to decide where the city stands following the shootings.
"The story in Sacramento is still being written,” Simmons says. “We’re on the front page of it right now. Where we go from here, we’ll fill in the next couple of chapters. What we do in this moment is very important, acknowledging loss of life on both ends."
Simmons will be on Insight with Beth Ruyak on Monday morning to continue the conversation of the events this week and how Sacramento is going to respond.
Sacramento Police Chief of Police Samuel D. Somers expressed shock and saddness in a release this afternoon.
"The Sacramento Police Department condemns all acts of violence and remains committed to keeping everyone safe in our community. Locally, we have been working towards developing strong relationships with the community we serve and appreciate their support during this difficult time," Somers said in a statement. "Today, we mourn the lives of the 5 police officers who were killed while protecting the first amendment rights of the citizens in their community. Our deepest sympathies go out to the families of the victims who will be forever impacted by this tragedy. We hope for a speedy recovery for those injured during the attack and pray for the community of Dallas during this challenging time."
Sacramento’s chapter of the Black Lives Matter movement is organizing canvassing events, marches, meetings and a stand in at the County Board of Supervisors meeting. You can find details for the upcoming events on the Black Lives Matter Sacramento facebook page.