Unaddressed Racial Disparities

August 21, 2020

Back in May, we wrote about the violent arrest of a woman for walking her dog.  We also submitted a complaint to the Community Review Board, which is supposed to give the community a voice in the discipline of San Diego Police Department officers.

We recently received a response regarding the status of our complaint.   There is evidently a large backlog of community complaints, and the CRB does not have the staff to keep up with the workload.  Hope was expressed that the ballot measure to turn the CRB into a Commission on Police Practices would pass, and bring with it more funding and more staff.

People of all ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds came out to peacefully protest for change, and what have we gotten?  The carotid restraint has been banned and the San Diego Police Department has instituted a de-escalation policy.  Both of these things are welcome but not nearly sufficient.  Furthermore, both of these things come from the San Diego Police Department, and no action has come from the Mayor or the City Council.

Just the other night we received a shocking example of a young man being racially profiled and illegally harassed by the SDPD.  Are we just supposed to sit back and wait for the November election and 2021 to see any more change?

No.  Our elected officials should be bolder leaders to the constituents of San Diego and should have immediately installed youth on the Youth Commission to get them engaged on what they want to see in their city.  The empty seats on the CRB need to be filled so the backlog can be eliminated, and not left as a legacy to the incoming CRB (or CPP).  There are so many more Commissions that could be helping with the racial tensions in our City.  The City’s latest listing shows these vacancies on relevant boards and commissions:

  • Accessibility Advisory Board: 2
  • Citizens’ Advisory Board on Police/Community Relations: 2
  • Citizens’ Equal Opportunity Commission: 3
  • CRB: 7 (SEVEN!)
  • Human Relations Commission: 3
  • Senior Affairs Advisory Board: 5
  • Sustainable Energy Board: 6

The state of emergency and the racial tension in the City hasn’t gone on August recess like the council. The NAACP San Diego branch is calling on the Council to ensure that boards and commissions with empty seats get dealt with upon the return to business.  We will not stand by and allow the newly civically-minded and engaged constituents to be ignored and disheartened. Citizen engagement is vital to democracy; disenfranchisement and despair lead only to disunity and destruction.The above mentioned arrest1 should have been dealt with by now.  Justice delayed is justice denied has never been more true than regarding discipline of SDPD officers.  If investigations are dragged out, if the CRB is understaffed, it guarantees the permanent denial of justice.

Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch