‘It’s a distraction’: Residents worry vandalism will detract from racial justice message

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Some residents are worried the fight for racial justice will be overshadowed by the damage left behind after some protesters marched through downtown Sacramento Friday night. 

“I think people are angry and perhaps some of the vandalism comes from that,” said resident John Paul Olafson. “I also think that people are just using the protests as an excuse to come in and do this kind of vandalism.”

Olafson was on his morning walk when he stopped to survey some damage done to the Wells Fargo Pavilion. 

“It’s a distraction. I think the message is very important and it’s too bad that vandalism causes the distraction from it,” Olafson told FOX40. 

The recent protests are in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake and the death of George Floyd at the hands of police. 

Their names were spray painted on the front door of Sacramento Fire Station 2. 

“I mean that’s not getting the message across to anybody,” said Battalion Chief Greg Powell. “It’s actually just causing more diversion from the message that should be brought forward and along that line. It just creates hostility against the movement in general, as far as moving things forward in a positive way.” 

Powell says the department boarded up most of the windows ahead of the protests. He also says he isn’t sure why the fire department was targeted. 

“We’re here to help everyone and protect everyone, and it’s just, it’s a shame that it’s come down to that. I think at this point in time people that are angry are just directing it at everyone,” Powell said. 

Some anti-police messages were spray-painted on several buildings in downtown. 

Olafson says while property damage is concerning, people shouldn’t lose sight of the bigger problem. 

“I just think the most important thing is probably to realize that the vandalism gets a lot of play and of course it’s a problem. In one sense, it’s just stuff. Granted, sometimes that represents people’s livelihoods and things like that. But we need to be concentrated on the, on the loss of life and the things like that that are happening,” Olafson said. 

According to Mayor Darrell Steinberg, property damage has been minimal. 

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