Witnesses say police did little to stop violent Nevada City counter-protesters

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NEVADA CITY, Calif. (KTXL) — A violent clash between Black Lives Matter protesters and counter-protesters in Nevada City over the weekend has many questioning why police officers did not do more to stop it.

Nevada City‘s chief of police said he will investigate and bring those counter-protesters who started the physical altercation to justice.

Josh Wolf was recording a video of the Black Lives Matter march through Nevada City Sunday night when he said a group of counter-protesters tried to physically block their path.

“They seem like they attempted to walk through them,” Wolf told FOX40. “However, they were met with pushes and signs being pulled away from them.”

At around the same time, Graham Hayes and Amanda Dozal said they were walking home from having dinner in downtown Nevada City. They said they were shocked to see so many Nevada City police officers and Nevada County sheriff’s deputies standing back and doing nothing.

“I actively asked police officers to step in and assist and they actively shooed me away,” Hayes said.

Hayes said that’s when he felt he needed to start recording the fight as well.

“Actively strong, ripped guys were being extremely aggressive, were pushing teenagers, spitting on teenagers,” he said. “So, it became pretty apparent that we needed to watch what they were doing.”

But he said soon one of those counter-protesters attacked him.

“He grabbed my phone out of my hand,” Hayes recalled. “When I tried to retrieve it back from him, he grabbed me around my neck, threw me on the ground. I got video of him putting me into a full body slam.”

Both Wolf, Hayes and Dozal said police and sheriff’s deputies who were there could have done more to stop the violence but did not.

“Tried to file reports the first evening. That wasn’t allowed. The next day, they wouldn’t allow us to file reports,” Dozal said.

Nevada City Police Chief Chad Ellis declined FOX40’s request for an on-camera interview. But in a statement he released a FOX40 he admitted the counter-protesters were the aggravators in the fight, adding quote: 

I have launched an investigation into the incident and have assigned a special investigator to exclusively handle this case. I encourage anyone who was present at the protest and victimized by an assault, a theft, a vandalism or any other crime to please come forward and provide our investigator with a statement so we can seek criminal prosecution against those involved.

Chad Ellis, Nevada City Police Chief

“I would like to hear the police hold themselves accountable,” Hayes said.  “They cannot excuse the way to handle that situation.”

FOX40 spoke to one of the counter-protesters, who declined a formal interview because he said he fears for his life. But he said his group had fears that the Black Lives Matter protest might start going into the neighborhoods and lead to acts of vandalism.

Police said nothing like that happened on Sunday.

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