Hoquiam residents reached out to their city over the weekend to organize a show of support for the black lives matter movement on Sunday in the wake of riots and unrest across the nation following the death of George Floyd. A crowd of people and a couple of officers stood at the 8th Street intersection of Simpson with signs of solidarity.
Mayor Ben Winkleman held a sign in the wind and said from behind a mask, “I was happy to hear that there was a group of local citizens that wanted to do this and they reached out to the Hoquiam Police department and they reached out to me as well.”
Organizer Heather Love explained the event was to show support for both sides, “Basically to show our support for the African American community and the Black Lives Matter movement across the nation.” Love said she kept the group small and hoped that the pop-up rally would be impactful without being riotous.
Police were there to show support too, Sgt Jeff Salstrom said at the scene, “what happened in Minneapolis was definitely a tragic situation that never should have happened.” Forty-six-year-old George Floyd died last Monday, his last moments caught on video pleading for his life as a Minneapolis police officer held him to the ground. That officer, Derek Chauvin, was arrested Friday on the investigation of third-degree murder and manslaughter.
While not justifying Chauvin’s actions, Salstrom explained that he was taught some of the same methods years ago, “That technique that that officer was using was one that I was taught in the academy 20 some odd years ago and it’s something that we don’t do anymore because things evolve. And so you know we’re still learning and as time goes by we want to adapt to the times and understand the community[‘s] needs.”
Salstrom has been on both sides of the bullet and in multiple confrontations, he said yesterday, “we want to go home safe, we want the public to be safe, and that’s what it boils down to.”
Salstrom suffered minor injuries in 2013 when he and two detectives confronted Rick Marlow about a real estate fraud investigation. Marlow went for a gun and shot Salstrom twice before a 20-hour-long standoff that ended in Marlow’s death and the destruction of a Hoquiam home. Salstrom was lucky that day. Yesterday he recalled former Hoquiam officer and Pierce County Sheriff’s Deputy Daniel McCartney who did not survive his injuries after being shot while chasing a suspected robber in 2018.
Salstrom said these types of confrontations are always risky, but “If you just do what we ask you to do – most of the time, it’s never going to get to the level. Handcuffs if they go on can always come off, just give me a chance to explain myself and why I did what I did. And if you don’t like it, you have the option of making a complaint to my chief or my deputy chief, the Sgt. that’s on duty or you can file a lawsuit or whatever it is but nobody got hurt, and that’s the important part.”
Hoquiam Police Chief Jeff Myers said on the police department’s Facebook page Friday that the video “was one of the most disturbing things I have ever witnessed.“
He added, “This was not proper police procedure; this was not an acceptable application of training; this was not justified; and this was not humane.”
CNN reports four Minneapolis officers involved in Floyd’s death have been fired, Floyd’s family members said that’s not enough. They want to see all of the officers, not just Chauvin, charged with murder.