President Maxwell on George Floyd

The following opinion piece by President Maxwell ran today in the San Diego Union-Tribune:

Commentary: We cannot afford a society in which human beings are disposable

“I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe” can be heard as a white man kneels casually on the neck of a black man as he pleads for his life, until that life is gone. This is a scene that has been played out in one form or another for the last 400 years, since the first African people were brought here and used as slaves.

Keep the Promises to the Promise Zone

May 30, 2020

Mayor Kevin Faulconer
City Admin Building
11th Floor 202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Council President Gómez
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Cate
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Moreno
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Bry
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Kersey
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Sherman
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Campbell
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Montgomery
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Ward
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101

To the Mayor and the San Diego City Council:

If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.
—African Proverb

For hundreds of years the lives of African-Americans have not been valued by our society.  We have been enslaved and discriminated against, either directly in law or by laws carefully designed to seem neutral but actually to be discriminatory.  As a result, we have been unable to accumulate the resources to cushion the effects of disasters like COVID-19.

We therefore ask the Mayor and City Council of San Diego to pay very careful attention as our society comes out of quarantine to those institutions that support people in the Promise Zone. You know our needs are dire; 97% of the kids in the zone are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches.  The long history of advantage society has given to others means we need your assistance now.

We need that help now.  Use your influence to get Wells Fargo to fulfill its obligations under the Community Reinvestment Act and reopen its branch in Market Creek Plaza.  Convince SDG&E to open their office in the same place, protected as it already is by glass barriers, so people can pay their bills in convenience (many lack the ability to make online payments.) Find a way to provide more WiFi to our residents, so they don’t have to do so much in person.  Force the Business Improvement Districts to do their jobs and actually support small business in the Promise Zone.

We are weathering two crises now; the COVID-19 virus and the COVID-19 economic depression.  We need bold leadership to see all of our citizens through these two threats.  The people of San Diego will not accept less!

Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch

NAACP Action on Mr George Floyd

The NAACP San Diego Branch has not received the required authorization from National NAACP to organize a march to condemn the  murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN.  Branch bylaws require written approval from the “President and CEO and General Counsel” of the NAACP.  The Branch is, however, already proceeding under its bylaws to take appropriate action to respond to this outrage; you will see the fruits of this action in the coming weeks.

San Diego Branch joins the country in support of the family of George Floyd in this time of sorrow.  We continue to condemn the criminal actions of the Minneapolis police officers, and we demand swift and certain justice for the officers who deprived Floyd of his life and rights.  We share the great sense of loss and outrage this murder has triggered in people of good will.

The murder of George Floyd is the latest incident in years of police misconduct; what sets it apart is the graphic evidence of this crime. We cannot forget other recent deaths or the years and years of mistreatment of communities of color.

National NAACP is conducting the #WeAreDoneDying campaign which advocates policy initiatives on several fronts: justice for George Floyd; criminal justice policy demands, including safely reducing the prison population; economic policy demands and health policy demands. The NAACP San Diego Branch urges you to go to https://www.naacp.org/ to add you voice to these demands.

Keep George Floyd and his family in your thoughts and prayers.

Brian A. Bonner
First Vice President
NAACP San Diego Branch

Justice For George Floyd

Many people have contacted us regarding protests of the murder of Mr George Floyd.  The NAACP San Diego Branch believes in the peaceful protest.  

We have received information regarding a protest today in La Mesa.  We have not confirmed this information, but are passing it along as is:

We encourage anyone who attends a protest to wear a face covering, practice social distancing and remain peaceful.  We need every single one of you to survive the protest and continue to work for justice!

We will update this post should we learn about more plans.

Suitcases Delivered for Foster Kids

This past week, we delivered over 50 suitcases to two different organizations that support foster kids!

Some of the suitcases we collected or bought with donations from our membership and community.
President Maxwell and Treasurer Anderson delivering suitcases to the San Diego County Foster Parent Association.
President Maxwell (in her bright red kicks) and Treasurer Anderson delivering suitcases to Walden Family Services.

We are very happy to provide kids under stress with a way to keep their belongings together when they have to move, and so grateful to all the members who made this happen with their compassion and generosity!

“Assault” on a “Peace” Officer in La Mesa

May 28, 2020

Chief Walt Vasquez of the La Mesa Police Department has this to say:

The La Mesa Police Department works with our community to protect life and property while striving to enhance the quality of life of all our residents.

We are curious as to which of these laudable goals is in evidence in this facebook video:

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What we see is one not very peaceful officer shoving around a citizen who, while justifiably angry over his disrespectful and violent treatment by the officer, makes no resistance.  We wonder whose life or property was threatened by this citizen?  Whose quality of life was enhanced by shoving him around?

Then, after all that aggression from the officer, he has the gall to arrest this poor man for “Assault on a Peace Officer.”  Seldom has so much irony been packed into such a little code as “241-C.”

We see four failures here.

Failure to de-escalate:

We must dismiss our need for immediate resolution to all kinds of resistance. — Harry Hammer, Inside the Art of De-Escalation.  Officers must learn to de-escalate situations, and not insist that citizens instantly comply with their every whim.

Anger management:

Hand in hand with de-escalation is that officers must learn to manage their own anger.  Officers should not be shoving people around.  We shudder to think what might have been done had there been no video cameras around.

Failure of Other Officers to Intervene

Several times we see a female officer step in to help restrain the innocent citizen who was the subject of this assault.  NEVER do we see or hear her or any of the other four officers on-scene attempt an intervention with the Officer who is the aggressor.  We are continually told by law enforcement that it is only a few officers who are “bad apples.” The point of a “bad apple” is that it spoils the whole bunch.  When officers intervene when one of their fellows are losing it, they protect both the citizen and that officer.

Of course, some officers are simply too violent and too dangerous to be helped, and must instead be terminated.

Community Relations

What none of our local law enforcement agencies seem to understand is that there is no number of softball games and toy giveaways that can improve their relations with the community when there are interactions like this caught on video.  Yes, we want to meet the chief and we’re glad when they are generous and helpful.  However, all of us in the African-American community know that if we put one single foot one single inch wrong, we may be thrown around, beaten up, have our necks knelt on, and then arrested to add insult to injury.  Assuming, of course, we even live to tell the tale.

When the City of La Mesa gets serious about improving the quality of life for its citizens, and gets serious about protecting its citizens FROM its police officers, the NAACP San Diego Branch stands ready to help.

Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch

NBPA on George Floyd

Like all people of good will, we at the NAACP San Diego Branch are horrified at the wanton murder of George Floyd by officers of the Minneapolis Police Department.  We express our deepest condolences to his family and friends, and we hope justice will be done upon the killers.

We received a statement from the National Black Police Association regarding the incident.  We find it very telling that African-American police officers, some of whom are members of our Branch, see Mr Floyd’s death much the same way we do: