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Police Say False Rumors About Looting Spark Fears In El Dorado County

PLACERVILLE (CBS13) — Some shops in Placerville are boarding up their windows in fear of looters.

Police and shop owners said groups were patrolling Main Street throughout the day.

However, Placerville Police and the El Dorado County Sheriff said there have been no credible threats and that false information in running rampant on social media. They have increased patrols to keep people safe.

On Wednesday afternoon, roughly 150 gathered for a peaceful protest at the courthouse. They chanted for hours, many holding up signs reading "Black Lives Matter," and "I can't breathe."

But tensions ran high just under the surface. A couple of people tried to face off verbally with the front line of protestors.

READ: Stanislaus County Declares State Of Emergency; Oakdale Protests Turn Violent

Down the street from the courthouse, some shop owners said they live in fear of looters and have chosen to board up their windows.

"We heard that there was going to be some trouble coming up this way," said Laranzo Smith, with Hangtown Originals.

Police said rumors are circulating about threats that are not credible.

"Where are you hearing this from? Online?" CBS13's Anna Giles asked.

"I guess online but word gets around in a small town like this you know," Laranzo Smith said.

ALSO: More Than 100 Charged With Looting, Assaults In California

Kirk Smith owns property on Main Street but is not boarding up his windows. He's seen the same social media posts as others.

"I couldn't find any substance to show that it was a real threat," Kirk Smith said.

Placerville police are focused on keeping the peace through dialogue.

"It's sad that our community feels the fear that they do," said Commander Kim Nida, with Placerville Police.

On Wednesday, police arrested a man who made violent threats against protestors online. Nida said the department will not stand for this.

"People really feel that once they are on social media that they can just say whatever they want. They've lost that moral temperature guide that would stop them from talking," she said.

It's putting some people on edge. Laranzo Smith describes Placerville as the old west right now.

"There's like hundreds of locals down here very night just protecting," he said.

The El Dorado County Sheriff's Department has also there has been no looting but that they are taking a proactive stance. For the last few nights, they've closed off Silva Valley parkway and the off-ramp in El Dorado Hills as a precaution.

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