The statement proposed by a Nevada county library in support of Black Lives Matter prompted the local sheriff to warn that his office would not respond to his calls to 911.
“We support #BlackLivesMatter,” the Douglas County Public Library said in the proposed brief statement released last week at the end of a meeting agenda. “We firmly affirm and believe that all forms of racism, hatred, inequality and injustice do not belong to our society.”
Sheriff Dan Coverley, in the county about an hour south of Reno, responded in a letter to the library board that George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody was “tragic and preventable.” and went on to argue that “the data simply does not support claims that law enforcement is systematically racist or structurally biased.”
The letter posted on the sheriff’s office website Monday ended by saying: “Because of your support for Black Lives Matter and the obvious lack of support or trust with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, don’t feel the need to call 911 for help. “
“I wish you good luck with the riots and lewd behavior, as those are just some of the recent calls that my office has helped you in the past,” the letter said.
County spokeswoman Melissa Blosser rejected the idea that sheriff’s deputies would no longer answer calls to the library’s 911.
“Sheriff Coverley would also like to take this opportunity to clarify that the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office will continue to answer all calls to 911, including those from the Library,” Blosser told the Reno Gazette Journal.
Library Director Amy Dodson told NBC affiliate KSNV in Las Vegas that the proposed diversity statement “was simply for the purpose of declaring our inclusion in the library, that we are open and welcoming to everyone and treat everyone by same”.
Dodson and Coverley met Tuesday and released a joint statement on social media in which the library director said the two “had a very frank conversation.”
“We agreed that we both support the people of Douglas County and this may have been an unfortunate circumstance of misunderstanding,” Dodson said. “The library respects and supports the work of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and appreciates everything they do to keep our community safe.”
The sheriff said in the statement that he is “passionate and proud” of his agency’s work in the community.
“This has been a difficult time to be a law enforcement professional and it can be daunting when we perceive that our office may be under attack,” Coverley said. “My response was based on my belief that these issues should be discussed openly in a way that values diversity and law enforcement.”