Dozens of anti-police protesters who had gathered at City Hall briefly took over Vallejo City Council Chambers on Tuesday night during a special council meeting, police said.
About 50 people moved inside the chambers about half an hour after the meeting’s 6 p.m. start, at which time council members retreated to a back room, City Manager Dan Keen said. The demonstrators — who were protesting police brutality stemming from a fatal officer-involved shooting of Mario Romero in September — then took over the council dais and used the chambers’ sound system, authorities said.
Romero’s family has been regularly protesting the Sept. 2 Vallejo police actions, in which the 23-year-old Vallejo man was shot multiple times while in a car parked outside his North Vallejo home.
Police said Romero was killed after two officers saw him with a handgun that later turned out to be a replica. Romero’s family members and friends have been refuting the police department version of events ever since.
The fatal shooting was one of 10 officer-involved shootings in 2012. Six people and two dogs were killed.
Called to respond to the protest, officers entered the chambers and asked everyone to move their protest back outside to the City Hall steps, police said. Four officers, including one cadet, were already on hand for the special meeting, which involved interviews of the public for vacancies on city committees, commissions and boards.
About 15 officers from both the Vallejo police department and Solano County Sheriff’s office lined up at the entrance to keep protesters from reentering City Hall. American Canyon police also provided backup.
The protesters began dispersing at about 7 p.m. with no arrests, although police said one demonstrator was seen with a baton.
“We are not going to tolerate that moving forward,” Vallejo police Lt. Sid DeJesus said of weapon carrying.
The start of the council’s regular meeting was pushed back at least 20 minutes. As of press time, the council had begun hearing a mid-year city budget update, and had approved purchase of a use-of-force and firearms simulator for the police department — a direct response to community outcry over last year’s officer-involved shootings.