NEVADA CITY (CBS13) – Divisions that seem to be ripping apart the country are playing out in a small Northern California mountain town.
Nevada City has gotten the attention of a human rights watch group. Amnesty International says the Nevada City Police Department neglected to protect protesters during a pro-Black Lives Matter demonstration back in early August.
Some are blaming the city’s social and political divide for the violence.
“It was definitely conservative for a long time and the last few years a lot more people have turned the city council and now it’s a more liberal place,” a Nevada City protester who wanted to remain anonymous said.
The city now split right down the middle. On one side there are residents like Tad Burnett who told CBS13, “Trump all the way. That’s the only choice.” And on the other are pro-Black Lives Matter protesters who marched through Nevada City streets back in August.
A moment from that protest that got the attention of Amnesty International.
“It’s not shocking to me that a small town like this that has a huge racial issue would be a big topic for a huge international group like that,” the protester said.
The human rights watch group released a report that added Nevada City’s police department to a list of 200 across the United States they’re calling neglectful. About the August 9 protest, Amnesty International wrote, “Police officers were present and watched as approximately 20 counter-protesters violently attacked a peaceful pro-BLM demonstration.”
“They saw people getting hit and beaten in the street. The cops did nothing to try and stop the so-called patriots,” the protester said.
Nevada City’s chief of police wasn’t available for an interview but did tell us his department has arrested at least three of the counter-protesters including James Steven Smith, one of the primary aggressors.
“They’re here to protect us. Just because there’s a few bad apples in law enforcement now all of them are bad? That’s not true,” Eric Quintero, who lives in Nevada City, said.
An opinion that doesn’t line up with the peaceful demonstrator who took to Nevada City streets in August.
“A lot of our population, especially people of color, do not call the police. They do not see them as a helping hand,” the protester said.
A scary realization for a protester who found himself in the middle of people he says are afraid of change.
“They came in and they didn’t see age they didn’t see gender they didn’t see anything other than people coming and trying to take away the lifestyle that they are so accustomed to,” the Nevada City protester said.
But even he was able to find common ground with the people different from him.
CBS13 did reach out to the Nevada City manager several times for comment. We haven’t heard back. The Nevada City Police Chief says they have hired an outside investigator to look into the August 9 protest.
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