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Most people at demonstration support Douglas Sheriff

By Kurt Hildebrand khildebrand@recordcourier.com

An estimated 700-1,000 pro-law enforcement demonstrators turned out to support Sheriff Dan Coverley on Saturday while only a few dozen Black Lives Matter protesters total turned out during the day in separate groups.

At the height of the protest around 1 pm. Saturday  the traffic light at Highway 395 and Buckeye Road was flashing red and Nevada Highway Patrol troopers were directing traffic through the intersection and the sheriff’s supporters honked.

Saturday opened with hundreds of armed counter-protesters filling the streets and sidewalks surrounding the Douglas County Judicial & Law Enforcement Center.

But firearms remained in holsters or slung over shoulders as the sheriff called for residents to express themselves peacefully. 

Coverley, who wrote a letter in response to a diversity statement proposed by the librarian that included the hashtag #Black Lives Matter, said he felt his message was misconstrued.

“I meant that if you don’t feel you can trust law enforcement, then don’t feel like you need to ask us for help,” Coverley said. “I never threatened anything.”

He pointed out that most of the national media attention has been over the end of the letter, which he drafted as a response to the notion of defunding the police.

 “I am shocked at the national media attention,” he said. “But I’m overwhelmed at the support I’ve received personally, for my family and for the sheriff’s office.” 

A Douglas County native and son of popular Douglas High Football Coach Bill Coverley, spectators sported “I stand with Dan,” signs and applauded as Coverley spoke.

He said that the Sheriff’s Office supports the library and the services they provide.

“We will continue to protect and serve them and all citizens and visitors to Douglas County,” he said. “We respect everyone’s right to assemble and exercise their first amendment (rights). However will not tolerate destruction of property or personal injury the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office is committed to fair policing and treating everyone in an impartial equitable objective manner with respect and in accordance with the law.”

By late afternoon the temperature on the Heritage Bank clock in Gardnerville read 96 degrees as the demonstrations wound down in Minden.

Several demonstrators sought refuge from the sun along the shady side of Highway 395 after a long hot day.

At 5:20 p.m., an operator at a hotline established for residents to call to obtain accurate information about Saturday’s event, said that her last update was that things were quieting down.

She said the hotline had received a few calls since it was announced on Saturday morning. It will remain active through 7 p.m.

There were no reports of vandalism or of serious injury during the day related to the protest. 

Highway 395 was open without any controls at Buckeye Road by 4 p.m.