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Community protests police chief's comments

November 9, 2008 7:25:34 PM PST
Groups in Palo Alto Sunday afternoon protested recent comments by Police Chief Lynne Johnson that were interpreted by some as directing police to conduct racial profiling.

The block of University Avenue in front of City Hall in Palo Alto was blocked by a few hundred marchers who have been protesting Johnson's comments since about 2 p.m., Palo Alto police Agent Dan Ryan said.

Johnson made the comments while speaking at an Oct. 30 community meeting held to address a string of robberies in the city in which suspects have been described as black.

The police chief said she asked officers for "consensual contact" with black men found in the locations where there have been robberies. Johnson's comments have been described by some as supporting racial profiling and have resulted in uproar from residents, church leaders and Stanford University students.

In a public letter sent the day after the meeting, Johnson said, "Unfortunately my statements have been misconstrued, so that some members of the public believe officers will be stopping all African American males in Palo Alto. That is definitely not the case."

She echoed the sentiments at a recent City Council meeting. Despite Johnson's two public apologies, community groups have called for the police chief's resignation and organized to show their disapproval of what they say is a pattern of racial profiling from the Police Department.

Sunday's protest reportedly was peaceful.


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