Near dinner time Monday El Dorado Hills Town Center started closing doors rather than opening them after a message posted earlier on social media encouraging protestors to take their message to places like El Dorado Hills, Elk Grove and Roseville caught the attention of El Dorado County Sheriff John D’Agostini.
The sheriff told the Mountain Democrat he wanted to prevent in El Dorado County the violence and looting that has plagued larger, more metropolitan areas in the wake of George Floyd’s death. He contacted the National Guard and asked for help.
“My biggest concern was ‘if’ they did (come to El Dorado County),” he said of the violent protesters seen in other cities across the nation. “I didn’t want them to get ahead of us. We made the decision to pull out all the stops — to be prepared.”
Preparation Monday night included 50 National Guard members, 40 sheriff’s officers and 15 additional officers from Amador County — all covering the West Slope should unrest occur. Placerville and South Lake Tahoe police officers and the California Highway Patrol were also on high alert.
At EDH Town Center the display was impressive. Roads were blocked to limit access to the shopping center after all the businesses had closed and armed National Guard troops stood watch at the center’s gateway while others were posted in strategic spots. Sheriff’s officers were also out in force, using their vehicles to block roadways and patrolling the area.
“We will be out here as long as we feel we need to be,” D’Agostini said. “I want the community to feel safe.”
The sheriff said he welcomes peaceful protests, “just do it the right way.”
“If you step out of line our enforcement steps in,” he warned. “I’ve got lots of room at the jail.”