State Watch

Nevada sheriff told library supporting Black Lives Matter not to 'call 911 for help'

A Nevada sheriff told a public county library supporting Black Lives Matter not to "call 911 for help" in a Monday letter.

Douglas County Sheriff Daniel Coverley responded to the Douglas County Public Library's proposed diversity statement that condemned racism and expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement by publishing a letter on the department's website.

"Due to your support of Black Lives Matter and the obvious lack of support or trust with the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, please do not feel the need to call 911 for help," the sheriff wrote. "I wish you good luck with disturbances and lewd behavior."

The sheriff later issued a statement with the library, after meeting with the library director Tuesday, saying he had "perceived that our office may be under attack."

The library's diversity statement was scheduled to be considered during a Tuesday meeting.

The statement said that "Everyone is welcome" and that the institution "denounces all acts of racism, violence and disregard for human rights." 

"We support #BlackLivesMatter," the statement read. "We resolutely assert and believe that all forms of racism, hatred, inequality and injustice don't belong in our society." 

After Coverley's letter was published, the library canceled its meeting, saying it received an "overwhelming amount of community response," according to county spokeswoman Melissa Blosser, the Reno Gazette Journal reported.

The library's statement will be publicly debated at a later date.

Blosser also said sheriff's deputies would continue to respond to all 911 calls from the library.

Coverely, who may be the first law enforcement official to threaten withholding emergency services based on Black Lives Matter support, according to The Washington Post, took most of his letter from a letter written to Congress last month by 11 state attorneys general and two sheriffs' associations. 

In his Tuesday joint statement with the library, the sheriff said it has been a "difficult time" for law enforcement. 

"This has been a difficult time to be a law enforcement professional and can be disheartening when we perceive that our office may be under attack," he said. "My response was rooted in my belief that these issues need to be openly discussed in a way that values diversity and law enforcement."

Douglas County Public Library Director Amy Dodson, who met with Coverley on Tuesday, said the library's statement was not meant to be anti-police. 

"It simply was meant to state our inclusivity at the library, that we are open and welcoming to everyone and we treat everyone equally," Dodson told the Gazette Journal.

In the joint statement, Dodson said she and the sheriff had a "very candid conversation" and they agreed "this may have been an unfortunate circumstance of misunderstanding."

The May death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody brought the Black Lives Matter movement to the forefront of national discourse, prompting protests in various cities against police brutality that have sometimes turned violent. 

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