Dr R Lee Brown to Head Citizen’s Justice Committee

During this time of unprecedented interest from our society in policing and racial justice, the NAACP San Diego Branch is pleased to announce that the distinguished Dr R. Lee Brown, UCSD Researcher in Government & Community Relations, and an expert in risk management, leadership, employee relations, and many other things, will be heading up an ad-hoc Citizen’s Justice Committee, focused on the reform of policing.  If you are interested in serving with Dr Brown and working on issues of race and policing, we invite you to fill out our Volunteer Interest Form, here: sandiegonaacp.org/volunteer

Neighborhood House Racial Justice Meeting

On June 29th, President Maxwell attended a meeting at Neighborhood House, where the San Diego Police Department shared answers to questions from the Urban League, their proposed de-escalation and other procedures, and the racial makeup of the Department.

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Sally Port Procedures Lead to Shooting

July 6, 2020

Last night around 8pm, a Latino man was left in a San Diego Police Department squad car outside the Sally Port.  He managed to slip his handcuffs and make his way into the trunk of the car.  There, he found an officer’s backpack with a spare weapon in it.  He took this weapon and then returned to the back seat of the vehicle.

When SDPD officers noticed the gun, they began to converge on the vehicle.  They allegedly felt threatened and opened fire on the man.  Next, they sent in a police dog to attack the injured man.

Now this 25-year-old man is injured and his family is traumatized.  Who knows how many others were in the area when the shooting occurred, who may have been struck by a stray bullet.  All because a man was left unsupervised in a vehicle in a crowded area.

There have been far too many dangerous incidents around the Sally Port.  It is up to Mayor Faulconer and the City Council to take control of the situation and get the SDPD to do the right thing.

We call on the US Attorney and FBI, who are already investigating officer-involved-shootings in the SDPD, to do a complete investigation of:

  • The Sally Port and associated polices and procedures, with a view toward the safety of officers, detainees, and the public at large.
  • Policies and procedures that allow detainees to be left unsupervised in vehicles, especially in highly-trafficked areas.
  • Polices and procedures regarding “backup weapons;” whether they are permitted and how they must be secured if permitted.

We offer our thoughts and prayers to the injured man’s family and friends.

Sincerely,

Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch

Racial Profiling Spike is No Surprise

July 6, 2020

We read with interest the NBC report on an increase in racial profiling complaints (https://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/spike-in-racial-profiling-complaints-to-san-diego-police-department/2358982/).  We read with interest, yes—but not surprise.

The NAACP San Diego Branch President spoke to Chief Nisleit, Executive Chief Guaderrama and Assistant Chief Lucas last week, and told them that officers from special units of the San Diego Police Department who come into the Southeastern Police Division area use terms like “those people” and then switch to another channel and say “Four riding deep in a car down Imperial” or Skyline Drive.  “Those people” and “Four” are used to mean African-Americans or Latinx residents.  Police Sergeants monitor these radio channels, and they say nothing about this racist language.

Language matters, and what our new officers hear is what they learn, so racist language must not be permitted by SDPD.  Furthermore, such language, while offensive in itself, while demoralizing to the African-American and Latinx officers who hear it, is a clue to racist attitudes that may lead to biased policing (as shown in the NBC report), police violence, and police murder.  Such language must not only be impermissible, but those who use it must be subject to sanction, preferably removal from the police force.

Even more concerning is the fact that Police Sergeants approve this behavior by their silence.  What does that say about the supposed “Community Policing” goals of Chief Nisleit’s department?  What does that say about future leadership, when the SDPD continues to refuse to bring in outside leaders, and instead relies solely on promoting from within this pool of officers so obviously tainted with racist language, attitudes, and behavior?

Even our own African-American police officers experience racial profiling.  When they’re off-duty, they get stopped by SDPD officers.  When they ask for why they were stopped, they get inadequate explanations that point clearly to racial profiling.  Their complaints to Internal Affairs, however, get called “unfounded.”  The San Diego Police Department seems to go to any length to avoid admitting that they have a problem with racial profiling, permitting even the racial harassment of their own officers.

All of this simply underscores the need for the replacement of the current captive CRB with an independent Commission on Police Practices, so the IA department’s whitewashing of complaints can be exposed and remedied.

America’s Finest City deserves America’s Finest Leadership, not an inbred racist culture in the upper echelons of the San Diego Police Department.

Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch

Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Ritchie Must Go

July 6, 2020

Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Ritchie must go because he emailed an altered photograph of the 8-minute-46-second killing of Mr George Floyd by Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, showing a naked black male porn star kneeling on Mr Floyd, with the words “Quit resisting…” added.  The image was lewd and racist and vile and should disturb anyone with a shred of human decency.  It is simply unacceptable in a law enforcement officer.

Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Ritchie must go unless the front page of the Sheriff’s website, which says “We hear you. We stand with you. We do not condone actions based on bias, prejudice, racism or hate” is a lie.

Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Ritchie must go because this is far from the first time he has shown himself to be an overtly racist and deplorable human being, much less a law enforcement officer.  

Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Ritchie must go because he violently killed Jorge Ramirez in 2005.  We invite you to read the Attorney General’s memorandum (see sandiegonaacp.org/ritchie-must-go) which describes him overtaking an injured, fleeing man, shooting him in the back of the chest to bring him to the ground, and then firing bullet after bullet into him, while circling around him.

Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Ritchie must go because he violently killed Robert Medina in 2006.  We invite you to read documentation of this gratuitously violent pursuit and gangland-style execution of the clearly unarmed Medina (see https://www.leagle.com/decision/infdco20140926a78) which describes him engaging in a risky vehicular pursuit, pinning Medina’s vehicle between law enforcement vehicles, and again engaging in his favored pastime of circling around immobilized human beings while repeatedly firing his gun and sending bullet after bullet into their helpless bodies.

Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Ritchie must go because this incident shows he has clearly not changed his evil, racist and hate-filled ways, and he is a danger to all residents of the County.  He must go before he kills again.

Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Ritchie must go because he belongs in jail, not on the streets.  We understand that before the advent of AB-392, it may have been difficult to prosecute obvious murder by the police.  The record, however, is plain, and this incident is enough all on its own to see him gone from the Department.

Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Ritchie must go in spite of the “Police Officer’s Bill of Rights,” because the real Bill of Rights, the one in the actual Constitution, must take precedence.

Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Ritchie must go, and yet he gets a paycheck from Sheriff Gore, despite the Sheriff’s Office statement that “We were so disgusted that an employee may have shared such a vulgar [and racist] image that we took immediate action.”

Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Ritchie must go, because the murder of Mr George Floyd has awoken some of his fellow deputies, who will no longer stay silent regarding his words and actions.

Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Ritchie must go, if Sheriff William Gore is to show significant leadership on the issues of race and policing.  Perhaps he has so far failed to show such leadership because, despite having 9 contracts across the breadth of the county, his leadership team fails to bring diversity to the decision making process.   Sheriff Gore must act on this rogue deputy, and he must bring diverse voices to his table to end his echo-chamber of bias building on bias.  If he fails to do these things, we will know that he is complicit in systemic racism and that is time for different and bolder leadership in the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Ritchie must go, and if the Sheriff shows enough good faith to make that happen, the NAACP San Diego Branch stands ready to assist him evaluate and improve his recruitment, training, and discipline policies to ensure that the Mark Ritchies of the world are behind bars, not behind  Deputy’s badges.

Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch

San Diego Police Officers Shoot Fleeing Suspect

June 28, 2020

Yesterday, officers (whom the SDPD has declined to name) shot a man (whom the SDPD has also declined to name) in the Core-Columbia neighborhood of San Diego.  The NAACP San Diego Branch offers its thoughts and prayers to this man, his family and friends.

The entire incident was captured on video.  We expect SB 1421 and AB 748, both of which mandate prompt release of video evidence and officer records, to be promptly obeyed by the SDPD.  What these bills both say, and what we strongly believe, is that transparency and accountability are the cornerstone of rebuilding trust between law enforcement and the public it is supposed to serve.

So far, the San Diego Police Department has released only still pictures from a video that could have been released in its entirety, along with their explanation of what occurred.  This video could show and the public could hear that the de-escalation policy was upheld, and this was not another case of excessive use of force.

Now is not the time to temporize and withhold and spin in an effort to sell a pre-determined narrative.  Now is time to show bold leadership and come clean with the public.  We will be watching very closely.

Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch

Sixth Annual Interfaith Prayer Vigil

National Day of Mourning for African Americans Killed in Police Involved Interactions

WHEREAS, the NAACP affirms the constitutional right of all citizens to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and

WHEREAS, the NAACP recognizes that police officers are sworn to protect all of the citizens in the communities in which they serve; and

WHEREAS, police killed at least 336 Black people in the United States in 2015; and

WHEREAS, Black people in the United States are three times more likely to be killed by police than white people, and

WHEREAS, 30% of Black victims killed by police in 2015 were unarmed compared to 19% of White victims; and

WHEREAS, in 97% of the killings of Blacks in police involved interactions in 2015, none of the officers involved were charged with a crime.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) recognizes the 11th day of August each year as a National Day of Mourning for African Americans Killed in Police Involved Interactions.

A Letter from the Mayor of La Mesa

We have received the following letter from Dr Mark Arapostathis, after we met with him this past week. If you live, work or visit La Mesa, we encourage you to read this letter and become more informed about its governmental system, and the limits of the power of the elected officials over their own Police Department.

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La-MesaLetter-dragged-2

We encourage La Mesa residents to heed the Mayor’s call and become involved in the city’s government.

Rayshard Brooks and Nicholas Bils

June 18, 2020

Rayshard Brooks was murdered on June 12th, as he ran from police.  Yesterday, a mere 5 days later, we saw a charge of Felony Murder laid against the policeman who killed him.  While our hearts are still broken for Mr Brooks’ family, we hope they take some satisfaction that the first step toward justice has been taken.

Here in San Diego, a man named Nicholas Bils was shot by a Sheriff’s deputy on May 1st, as he ran from custody.  Yesterday, 47 days later, no charges have been laid against his murderer.  We wonder what Mr Bils’ family must think of this delay.

The murder of George Floyd has brought so many people into the streets and to the cause of justice.  Not only black people, but asian, hispanic and white people, too, have been out protesting against police violence and racial injustice.  We hope and pray that this commitment to justice is sustained, and this is a dawn of a new era.  We hope that our leaders realize that the time for “de-escalation philosophies” and vague promises of reform are over.  We do not want promises and pretty words; we want solid policies and procedures with true accountability.

President Obama initiated a Task Force on 21st Century Policing, which was a nationwide effort to determine the best course for policing.  After traveling the country, listening to community members, government agencies and police officers themselves, these best practices were written up in their final report.

We don’t need more study.  We know what to do.  We just need bolder action from our leaders.

The first bolder action we are looking for is this: a murder charge against the deputy who killed Mr Bils.

Our white neighbors must understand that, while the modern militarized police force may have been built to target African-Americans, once you have built a murder machine, there will be “collateral damage.”  You are not safe against overly aggressive, poorly trained, warrior-minded “peace” officers.  Safer than African-Americans are, yes; safe, no.

It’s time for our members, allies and supporters to get serious about fundamental police reform.  Not for a month, not until the quarantine is over, not until the November election; we need work until the job is done.

Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch

Regional Law Enforcement De-Escalation Philosophy

June 9, 2020

The San Diego County Police Chiefs and Sheriffs Association has released their de-escalation “philosophy,” on which they claim to have been working for a year.  According to CBS-8, that philosophy is:

No Title

No Description

We find this document to be profoundly tone-deaf and utterly inadequate. This document seems to have been prepared inside an echo chamber of highly paid law enforcement officials.  Where was the input from the taxpaying public?

All ages and ethnicities are united in outrage over police violence, appearing daily in the streets.  They will continue to be united in outrage until we see policies of transparency, accountability and a true spirit of public service.

Where in this document is it affirmed that the purpose of law enforcement is to protect and to serve, not to dominate and control?

Where in this document are the policies and procedures needed to reign in the abuse, violence, and death that so regularly occur in citizen interactions with law enforcement?

The San Diego County Police Chiefs and Sheriffs Association needs to:

  • Apologize for and withdraw this completely inadequate document that does nothing to restore the public’s trust and faith.  
  • Immediately sit down with the individuals and communities who have suffered trauma and abuse, and hear what they have to say.
  • Produce detailed, meaningful and practical policies and procedures, with transparent reporting and full accountability.  
  • Move swiftly and firmly to build this new spirit of service and protection into their departments.  
  • Remove officers who will not change, rather than allow them to corrupt another generation of recruits with their aggression and violence.

Only then will citizens trust them again.  

Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch