Yuma Police Chief Jerry Thompson has addressed some of the comments going around following this past Tuesday’s silent protest at Veterans Park in Yuma.
Thompson clarified that he did not specifically state that outsiders had been invited nor did he have knowledge of outside protestors being invited, but that the Facebook post regarding the invitation to stand in solidarity was an open post that had received several comments; was shared several times; and likely had a wide viewing, both in our community and outside of it. He stated the post itself was an invitation.
As for any organizing, Thompson said all his department had was what was seen on Facebook.
The post was never directed at outside protestors, and the post in no way encouraged outside protestors to attend. It was a call for locals to show solidarity with other people in the wake of the George Floyd death while his neck was kneeled on by a Minneapolis police officer.
Thompson’s department did call out for back up from other area agencies in the wake of what he was seeing on Facebook. Six agencies were present — Yuma police, Yuma County Sheriff’s Office, Wray Police Department, Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Colorado State Patrol and Fort Morgan Police Department.
“With everything that is going on in our state and our country along with some of the comments that were said, it would be negligent of us to not make preparations for people with nefarious intentions,” Thompson told the Pioneer. “I’m glad the event turned out to be locals peacefully gathering for a good cause as it was presented and not overshadowed by criminal acts.”
The officers stayed gathered at the Yuma Police Department, and were never needed, as the event attracted approximately 60 locals who peacefully silently protested for one hour then went home. Thompson and Yuma County Sheriff Todd Combs were the only law enforcement present at the event, amiably mingling with the crowd.
Thompson said he does not know yet what the cost will be to the YPD, but that most of would come from overtime pay.
There was talk of buses arriving in Yuma throughout Tuesday, but none ever did.
There was a rumor later this week that a bus was stopped in Fort Morgan, prevented from coming to Yuma.
Thompson said he has no knowledge of a bus being stopped in Fort Morgan, but noted there would not be any reason to turn around a bus.
Several businesses closed early up and down Highway 34 in Yuma as rumors swirled through the community. Yuma District Hospital & Clinics also closed early, but was not on lock down.
Thompson said the YPD did not advise any businesses to close early, and did not talk with any businesses besides the owner of the old ALCO building, where the event initially was to take place.