Morro Bay police issued a report about a confrontation that happened during a June 6 protest march for equal justice, concluding that the disturbing incident didn’t rise to the level of being an actual crime.
But in a story in New Times, the wife of one of the men involved, criticized the police handling of the incident.
In a statement released by the department on July 2, MBPD Cmdr. Amy Watkins said, “On June 8 the Morro Bay Police Department initiated an investigation after a complaint was received regarding a disturbance during a BLM Protest in Morro Bay.
“The complaint alleged that during the protest march, a male counter-protester used racial slurs toward a Black male subject who was participating in the protest, causing a verbal argument between the two men.”
The complaint also accused one of the officers of using “foul language” while ordering the groups to disperse. That charge launched an internal investigation.
“As a result of the complaint,” Watkins said, “an internal investigation was conducted to investigate both allegations of citizen and officer misconduct.” Police interviewed some 15 people about the incident.
“The result of the investigation concluded that a verbal disturbance between two males did occur, the verbal confrontation lasted a short time where a racial slur was used by one male,” said Cmdr. Watkins. “Officers arrived at the scene within minutes to de-escalate the conflict and separate the involved parties.”
Witness accounts differed. “There were conflicting statements provided by witnesses as to whether or not a swear word was used by one of the officers while attempting to diffuse the situation,” she said, “however witnesses did report hearing a racial slur used by one of the counter-protesters.”
The incident ended peacefully according to police. “Officers remained on scene until all parties dispersed and there were no complaints filed by either involved party at that time.”
In the follow up investigation, Watkins said the alleged victim was uncooperative. “Attempts to contact the Black male involved in the incident were met with his refusal to speak with the investigator or to provide a statement related to this incident,” Cmdr. Watkins said. “A report documenting the racial slur was authored by MBPD related to Hate Speech, as it was determined that no criminal action had taken place.”
But in the New Times article, Britney Holloway, identified as the wife of the man who was the victim of the racial slur, said three men were yelling “All Lives Matter” and revving their engines in front of the Great American Fish Co., during the march to Target Rock.
She said one of the men called her husband a “bitch” and then called their 1-year-old son the N-word. That led to an argument between the two that she said police didn’t bother to break up.
“I, with my son in my hands and holding my dog on leash,” Holloway told New Times, “jumped in-between them and told my husband that it was not worth it, and we needed to leave.”
As they were leaving, she said one officer told her husband, “Can you just shut the f*** up?”
Three officers from three different departments — Morro Bay, Atascadero and Grover Beach — were at the incident and Holloway told New Times that her husband didn’t cooperate because he didn’t like the way it was handled.
“They simply watched it, like waiting for one of them to swing, and I felt like they waited for my husband to swing first, so they could just arrest him.” She also noted that in the MBPD news release it didn’t mention that the counter-protester was white.
The police condemned the incident. “MBPD does not condone the use of profane, vulgar or insensitive speech, including name calling or racial slurs,” CMDR. Watkins said, “this incident did not meet the criteria or elements for criminal prosecution and has been documented accordingly.”
If readers have information regarding the incident, they can contact Cmdr. Watkins at (805) 772-6225.