Protesters who marched about two miles from Concord to the edge of downtown Clayton Tuesday afternoon were dispersed by police with tear gas after they failed to leave when law enforcement informed the crowd they were in violation of Clayton’s 6 p.m. curfew.
Anticipating the publicized local protest in the wake of the George Floyd murder last week by police in Minneapolis, Clayton Police initiated the 6 o’clock curfew on Tuesday. The majority of Contra Costa County is under an 8 p.m. – 5 a.m. curfew.
The crowd, primarily coming from their peaceful protest at the intersection of Clayton Rd. and Ygnacio Valley Rd. in front of a Bank of America branch, got as far as the VFW Flagpole Memorial at Clayton Rd. and Oak St., a one-way street into the downtown for one block across from the Clayton Bocce Courts.
A Clayton Police sergeant first began announcing that everyone had to leave the scene about 30 minutes before the curfew start. After multiple warnings to leave, it was 6:40 when police threw out colored smoke and then tear gas to disperse the remaining group of several dozen protesters.
Between 4 and 5 p.m. crowds gathered on busy street corners in Concord and Clayton to peacefully demonstrate their concerns about deteriorating race relations and police violence in America. The crowd swelled to 300 in Concord and waved to passing motorists who honked in support as chants of “No justice, no peace,” “Black lives matter” and “No more killer cops” rang out.
A much smaller group was in front of Clayton’s Grove park. During that time there were as many onlookers at local businesses as protesters.
Concerned about the looting and vandalism that took place in nearby Walnut Creek and other Bay Area cities Sunday, most businesses in the small downtown of Clayton and the Clayton Valley area of Concord closed at 1 p.m. and had plywood boarding up their windows and doors. Clayton Police personnel was supplemented by mutual aid officers from Concord, Moraga and Contra Costa Sheriff departments.
[Editor’s note: On Friday, June 5, ahead of a second protest march in Clayton, the Mayor and City Councilmember Jeff Wan released statements to say that the protest would be handled differently than the one on Tuesday. The council plans to meet with protesters who will be allowed to gather in Clayton’s downtown Grove park. Click here to read their statements.]