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Investigation into diversity statement on agenda

While a controversial diversity statement isn’t on Tuesday’s Library Board agenda, trustees will discuss hiring an independent investigator.

According to the agenda posted on Wednesday, trustees may authorize Douglas County Human Resources to retain a firm to “investigate recent events and communications that have resulted in multiple complaints to the library and Douglas County.”

Trustees are being asked to order Librarian Amy Dodson and her staff to cooperate with the investigation.

The library board is scheduled to meet virtually 10 a.m. Tuesday.

Dodson has said she was responsible for placing the diversity statement that included the sentence “We support #Black Lives Matter.” on the board’s July 28 agenda.

Sheriff Dan Coverley responded to the item with a long letter that concluded with the statement “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 following day the sheriff and county said they would respond to calls at the library and at a press conference on Aug. 8, Coverley said the sheriff’s office supports the library and its mission.

The Sheriff’s office estimated as many as 1,000 people attended demonstrations. Fewer than 50 people represented #Black Lives Matter, and never that many all at one time.

A significant proportion of the people supporting the sheriff were armed, though firearms remained slung or holstered.

According to Douglas County 911 Emergency Services reported receiving 38 cellular 911 calls between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Aug. 8, with two for assault. That jibes with the official report that said there were two reports filed by Aug. 11, including someone being spit on and a witness to a battery.

On Wednesday night, a handful of people gathered in Minden to discuss the events leading up to the Aug. 8 demonstrations in the Douglas County seat.

Douglas High School graduate Wes Alexander said he was one of the protest organizers.

“I’ve been responsible for doing some of the organizing in the county going back in June,” he said. “This doesn’t need to be a politicized issue. We are trying to re-imagine public safety in a way that’s equitable for our entire society.”

One of the participants was South Lake Tahoe Community College Vice President of Student Services Jonathan King, who described himself as a “civil rights baby.”

“If you got a little shaken up by people spitting on you, well it was like 50 times worse if you were in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Texas, Louisiana or Virginia. If you went out in those days, you might not come back home. You might be lynched, run over, shot, whatever.”

King said he was 5 years old when he watched as his pregnant mother was knocked down by one officer and kicked in the stomach by another.

He said she lost the child.

Coventry Cross Pastor Elizabeth Tattersall said she believed in the dignity of every human being.

“We all have some of God in us, whether we recognize that or not,” she said. “We all need to be treated as the valuable human being that we are.”