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Richmond PD Chief Defends Joining Anti-Police Brutality Protest, Holding #BlackLivesMatter Sign While In Uniform

RICHMOND (KPIX 5) – A Bay Area police chief who participated in a protest against police brutality said he would do it again, despite complaints from officers saying he broke the law because he wore his uniform during the march.

In an interview with KPIX 5, Magnus said, "Sure. I would do it again. I would like to be a little more prepared for perhaps the fallout."

Magnus received an avalanche of reaction after someone snapped a picture of him at the protest, holding a sign with the popular hashtag "#BlackLivesMatter."

"I looked at it for a minute and realized this is actually pretty innocuous, the idea that black lives matter is something that I would think that we should all be able to agree upon. Of course, my feeling is all lives matter," he said. "I thought it was an important gesture of goodwill."

Not everyone agreed. The Richmond Police Officers' Association said he broke the law against politicking in uniform.

"It certainly wasn't intended to be a political statement - it was intended to be a humane statement," Magnus said. "I can understand how it is hard for a lot of police officers, especially given what has gone on in some the protests, the violence, the ugly anti-police sentiment."

KPIX 5, KCBS and Chronicle insider Phil Matier asked Magnus what his reaction would be if an officer held a sign showing support for Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson, who fatally shot Michael Brown. Magnus said, "I would have been appalled. And I think there is a real difference because my statement was about building bridges. A statement like supporting Darren Wilson, especially under the circumstances, is incredibly divisive, I think inappropriate."

Magnus did not expect the reaction over the photo. "I was a little surprised," he said.

Meanwhile, the reaction keeps rolling from all around the country. "The majority of what I have seen has been pretty positive, and heartfelt. There certainly has been some critical reaction and I'm not surprised by that," Magnus said. "I learned that three words can have an extremely powerful impact. I don't think this is a movement or a situation that is going to disappear."

Magnus said about a half dozen members of his command staff joined him in the protest.

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