Concern that rioting may spread to Cottage Grove arose on Facebook following a post on Sunday from the Cottage Grove Police Department (CGPD) stating that it had locked its lobby door for the night.
“I think that maybe there was a little hyper-awareness because of what was happening in Eugene … but we were all open and ready for business,” said Chief of Police Scott Shepherd. “I think the dispatcher just wanted people to know it was locked.”
Worries from the public were compounded by reports that protesters on social media were eyeing Cottage Grove as a possible rally point on Sunday night. Walmart has also taken to closing its doors early, fueling some speculation that the business was expecting to be targeted.
“We were preparing for the possibility that some of those Twitter or Facebook posts may be true. Fortunately, it turned out that they weren’t,” said Shepherd. “We don’t expect that it will, but of course we need to plan and make contingencies in case something was to happen.”
The police department readied itself by taking some precautions.
“We just made ourselves aware of [the posts] and our patrol was vigilant about covering places that may be gathering points for groups,” Shepherd said.
Staff also contacted some local businesses which were open Sunday afternoon and evening.
“Just kind of checking the pulse of the businesses within our city to see if there were any concerns — if they’d heard anything,” Shepherd said.
Though Shepherd said peaceful protests were welcome as in any other city, he drew a distinction at the point of committing destructive crimes.
“The trouble is, the destructive nature of protesting really isn’t protesting at all. It’s rioting and that has nothing to do with what the initial cause was for,” he said. “We’re just fortunate that we haven’t had to deal with that yet.”