Complaint over Violent Beach Arrest

May 7, 2020

Last night, the NAACP Branch filed the following complaint with the City of San Diego CRB (Community Review Board on Police Practices):

I am the President of the NAACP San Diego Branch.  My members and I have seen video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aiZzTnXLWHU) of an incident that occurred on May 1st at Ocean Beach.  A woman (according to press reports, her name was Ms ———) who was walking her dog was assaulted by three police officers.  These officers slammed this woman three times, put their knees into her back, and even kicked her dog.

The use of force was excessive.  The officers’ choice of victim, an African-American woman, raises questions of equity.  Was she arrested because of her race?  Was she assaulted because of her race?  Would the officers have found a better way to deal with the situation if Ms ——– had been white?  We have seen over and over again that bias, implicit or explicit, plays a role in the decisionmaking of SDPD officers.  This looks like it may well be another case of the police indulging their bias, sadism and need for control on a defenseless African-American.

We do not have the names of the officers, but the video did capture the number of one of the police vehicles (see photo); 6991.

We would like a full investigation into whether this conduct was in accordance with SDPD policy, if this was considered excessive use of force, if there have been other complaints of bias and/or excessive force lodged against the officers involved, and if those complaints were upheld.  If the conclusion is that all of the officers acted “according to policy,” as CRB conclusions so often are, then we will be demanding a change in SDPD policy and a more empowered and independent CRB.

To start with, we would like to thank the citizen who supplied this video.  We are very grateful to anyone who records the actions of law enforcement, as is the right of any member of the public.

There is a story circulating on social media that this young woman was arrested is that her dog was unleashed outside proper hours.  Evidently unleashed dogs are allowed on this beach, just not at the time she was walking hers.  The story goes on to say that the woman ignored lifeguards who asked her to leash the dog, and she then ignored the police whom the lifeguards called.

The excuse for the violent behavior of the SDPD officers, it is said, was that this young woman had the temerity to try to walk away from the police who had arrested her.  This resulted, the story goes on to say, in:

  • A violent takedown and abuse both of the woman and her dog
  • A citation for resisting arrest
  • A citation for public intoxication

These seem rather severe consequences for walking one’s dog without a leash.

The “public intoxication” that concerns us is that of the SDPD officers — intoxication with their own power over a young black woman.

We have, for hundreds of years, seen white men (and women) in this country use all manner of excuses to capture, abuse, beat and control black men and women.  This has been justified with (pseudo-)religion, (pseudo-)science, and (pseudo-)morality.

We do not believe, had this young woman been white, that things would have happened as they did.  We do not believe the lifeguards would have called the police.  We do not believe the police would have made the arrest.  Having made the arrest, we do not believe the police would have resorted to such violence.  Not on a white woman, who might have been the daughter of the white power establishment in our City and County.

We are not going to accept this kind of lawless behavior from “Law Enforcement.”

Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch