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San Mateo, CA Police Department
Thursday June 4th, 2020 :: 07:54 p.m. PDT


SMPD Summary of Yesterday’s Peaceful Protest

For Immediate Release No. 20200604-030
Thursday, June 4, 2020
SMPD Summary of Yesterday’s Peaceful Protest
We are so appreciative to all of those who helped make yesterday’s protest event in the City of San Mateo safe and successful. This includes you, members of the public, our law enforcement partners countywide who assisted us in this large event, our public safety partners in Fire and EMS who stood by, and numerous staff members and volunteers who put forth the effort to keep this event safe for all in attendance. Over 2000 concerned people were able to assemble, march over a mile and a half in over 90-degree weather, assemble a second time, and disperse without any arrests, uses-of-force, injuries, or damage to any part of our city. We thank you.
It is often difficult from any one perspective to know how well any such event is perceived by others. We appreciate the calls, emails, and social media posts providing us with a broad range of perspectives from which we can debrief, learn, reflect, and improve.
We’d like to provide some insight into our preparation for an event of this scale and the decisions required to monitor and make adjustments to ensure the safety of all and to protect property. 
Over the weekend we became aware of a protest planned for San Mateo City Hall in reaction to the heinous acts in Minneapolis resulting in the tragic death of George Floyd. In addition, we were also made aware of a viral social media post indicating looting of several businesses, both large and small within San Mateo County, with our Hillsdale Shopping Center being specifically named. Unable to validate the post, we reached out to the organizers of the planned protest and offered our assistance in facilitating a peaceful assembly at city hall and a safe walking route to the San Mateo Police Department once their initial plan changed. The organizers originally estimated a group of 150-350 people would attend this demonstration and ensured it would be a peaceful protest.
Demonstrations locally were monitored over the week and included some instances of violence and destruction, and viral social media posts threatened looting on the Peninsula. Our preparation therefore included contingency plans for a much larger crowd and a number of variables, such as the presence of agitators unrelated and unanticipated by the original organizers, and significant traffic and parking impacts related to a large crowd.
In accordance with our established mutual aid protocols we contacted our local partner agencies in the county to coordinate a response that was scalable to the size and activity of the crowd. We were prepared both for a peaceful, small group and for a large, unruly gathering requiring control and dispersal. Obviously, we hoped for the peaceful event, but it is important to the safety and security of our community to be as prepared as possible. 
Our SMPD Media Team in coordination with our City Communications Team monitored social media platforms for information leading up to the event to help us estimate the size of the protest group and any plans to disrupt the peaceful plan. The team also created messaging for the community in preparation and answered scores of residents’ questions about their safety and that of their businesses in relation to unrest and large crowd demonstrations locally and nationwide.
In his opening message to the multiagency team working this event, Chief Barberini’s message was very clear – handle things safely so that staff and protestors all go home safe, do everything possible to facilitate a successful event, and assume a community-friendly presence whenever possible. He was also clear that small disruptions were to be precisely dealt with swiftly as to not disrupt the event and maintain a safe environment to prevent the destruction of property. 
A command post was established to provide overview monitoring of the event at all locations, direct resources when needed, and scale up or down our response when necessary. This is referred to as a “unified command,” with personnel directing law safety measures and monitoring and correcting for traffic issues, directing medical aid when needed, and the monitoring of incoming news, social media, and information from the field. 
Over 2000 individuals attended this event, which turned out to be very successful. Our team closed off S. El Camino Real and subsequent streets to facilitate the crowd’s movement from city hall to the police department. Participants were able to move freely through the planned route. Once at the police department, large portions of the crowd threw a couple of curveballs our way. A couple hundred individuals from the group separated themselves from the mass gathering and moved to the intersection of E. Hillsdale Boulevard and Saratoga Drive where they stopped traffic for several minutes. While not anticipated, we allowed this to peacefully run its course, facilitating the closure of the intersection and a portion of the roadway on Saratoga Drive. While this was occurring, we also experienced members of the crowd attempting to breach our security measures at several access points. We observed individuals attempting to climb over walls at one of our driveways and near the rear of the building. 
The crowd of about 200 individuals that had been blocking the intersection at Hillsdale/Saratoga, began walking west on E. Hillsdale Boulevard toward the Hillsdale Shopping Center.  Additionally, individuals in the crowd were observed encouraging others to walk toward Highway 101, therefore, officers were positioned to ensure there were no attempts to block the freeway.
To address the additional challenges, we implemented a contingency plan by deploying a supplemental group comprised of officers from local police departments and the Sheriff’s Office. Twenty of these officers were sent to the shopping center and ten were sent to the police department. Because this supplemental group was only to be deployed when potential unlawful activity presented itself, they were deployed wearing helmets. Fortunately, at no point did these officers, or any other personnel have to employ any use of force and no arrests were made.
The group that had walked toward the shopping center later blocked the intersection at Hillsdale Boulevard and S. El Camino Real and then additionally, the intersection at 25th Avenue and S. El Camino Real for several minutes before returning to the area near city hall and dispersing.  
The remaining larger crowd at the police department stayed into the 8 o’clock hour. In collaboration with SamTrans, attendees were offered transportation back to the area near city hall. A smaller crowd remained, and slowly dissipated closer to 9 p.m., when they were admonished about violating the countywide curfew.  
Our department appreciates our community’s right to peacefully assemble, to speak and demonstrate for what they believe in. We are empathetic and very willing to listen to these timely and important concerns. We recognize that a gathering of this size is not likely to be entirely in synchronization with an organized program, and we appreciate your patience and partnership in working with us to ensure that constitutional rights can be exercised safely.
We also know there are many important questions being generated by this national conversation, and we look forward to continuing to learn your concerns and use your feedback to fortify our dedication to constant improvement in this profession.
Michael Haobsh
Public Information Officer
Community & Media Relations
Direct: (650) 522-7626
Email: [email protected]

San Mateo, CA Police Department
200 Franklin Pkwy
San Mateo, CA 94403

Emergency: 9-1-1
Non-emergencies: 650-522-7700

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