Another Unjust Verdict

June 9th, 2019

On June 4th, a nearly all-white jury acquitted to Sheriff’s deputies of assault during their arrest of two Latino men.  This acquittal came despite clear video evidence that the men were handcuffed and in no position to offer resistance or danger to the officers.

We deplore this verdict as much as we deplore the actions of the deputies that brought them to trial. Despite crime being at historic lows, we continue to give the police wider and wider latitude in their use of force, and we continue to erode the few protections we have against police misconduct.  It is not a secret (or an accident) that the burden of this behavior falls primarily on people of color.

It’s time for our society to reckon, legislatively, judicially, prosecutorially, administratively and morally with our criminal “justice” system.  The system is designed to persecute the poor and people of color, and we need a system that is fair for all.

Therefore, we of the NAACP San Diego Branch call for the following reforms:

  • Legislative reform to make it clear that violent acts perpetrated by police will be subject to sanction.
  • Judicial reform to re-apply the protections of our Constitution against unreasonable search and seizure, against punishment without conviction, and for equal protection under the law.  Unjust precedents that allow for police violence must be overturned, unjust practices that allow for pro-police juries and verdicts must be discontinued.
  • Prosecutorial reform so that we pay as much attention to the documented crimes of law enforcement as we do to the alleged crimes of the poor.  We may be gratified that for once our District Attorney chose to prosecute a case against law enforcement officers. We wonder, however, if this is merely the exception to prove the rule that Law Enforcement is, in her eyes, above the law.
  • Administrative and policy reform inside the Law Enforcement agencies themselves.  The Police need to recognize that lawless behavior on their part subjects them in the end to more danger, not less.  They need to recognize that tactics of terror and violence will beget violence and not cooperation. They need better recruitment, better training, and a commitment to integrity and accountability.
  • And finally, we call for moral reform.  We as a society need to wake up and look at what we have allowed ourselves to become.  We must once again be shocked at shocking behavior, and not allow ourselves to be desensitized to injustice, just because it wears a badge.

The NAACP San Diego Branch stands ready to assist any agencies who would like to better understand how to protect the rights of the residents of San Diego, regardless of their color. These problems can be solved, if only we as a society recover our will to solve them.

It is time to return to the rule of law in our society.

Clovis Honoré, President
NAACP San Diego Branch

Fifth Annual Interfaith Prayer Vigil

“I prayed for freedom for twenty years, but received no answer, until I prayed with my legs.”

–Frederick Douglass

In 2016, the NAACP adopted a resolution, proposed by the San Diego Branch, designating August 11th as a National Day of Mourning for African Americans killed in police interactions. Our first interfaith prayer vigil was celebrated on August 12, 2016.

Please join us as we gather for an evening of prayer to mourn all African Americans who have been killed by the police.  We will also pray for other matters of concern including civil rights, jobs, education, health care, and housing.

The Vigil will occur on August 16th, 2019, 7:00pm – 8:30pm

Christ United Presbyterian Church of San Diego
3025 Fir Street
San Diego, CA 92102

For more information, email religion@sandiegonaacp.org or call 619-263-7823.


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.

Trenelle Cannon Legal Fund

On May 7, Trenelle Canon had an encounter with the officers of the San Diego Police Department Gang Unit. By Trenelle’s account, he was unarmed and yanked roughly from the vehicle, and both Trenelle and the officer lost balance and fell to the ground. At this point, the video speaks for itself:

Police footage shows controversial arrest of Tranelle Cannon

On Tuesday Trenelle Cannon, 20, was arrested by San Diego Police in Chula Vista, California for outstanding warrants for firearm possession and robbery. His girlfriend filmed his arrest where a group of officers swarm him and one punches him on the ground and posted it online where it sparked outrage.

SDPD protects and serves young Mr Cannon (using its officers fists while they hold him and his 150 pounds with their combined half ton of weight.)

Mr Trenelle’s mother is raising funds to serve in her son’s legal defense.

Click here to support #justicefortrenelle organized by Leticia Bates

On may 7th 2019 my son was picked up by the sdpd and gang unit on a warrant. He was yanked out the car by the first officer who approached the vehicle, due to the impact of being forcefully pulled out the car they lost balance.

If you cannot donate via GoFundMe, Ms Bates is also collecting shoes:

Hello, I am Trenelle Cannon’s mom. The first fundraiser for my son will be a shoe drive. So if you have any shoes  that are still in good condition that you want to donate that would be great. There is a company that will take your shoes and will cash you out for them. The money that we get from the shoes will be donated to my son’s lawyer fees. We have chosen a lawyer and total the cost will be $15000. 

I can be contact by email: [email protected]
Or you can contact me by cell via text: 6192520595

We can find a place to meet or you can drop donations off to me on an arranged basis! Anyone who wants to give cash donations can contact me at the information listed above. Thank you everyone in advance thank you for all the prayers and comforting words you all have expressed! God bless.

Will Bail Continue in California?

Introduction

Earlier this year, the California Legislature passed SB-10, a bill that will, beginning in October of 2019, eliminate cash bail in favor of a system purporting to detain people according to their risk of re-offense or fleeing from trial.

The abuses of the cash bail system are well known.  Bail amounts are set without regard to the actual risk an accused person presents, poor people often are unable to raise even the required 10%, that same 10%, as it is non-refundable, can often tip a poor family into a downward spiral, excessive pre-trial detention is used buy prosecutors as a cudgel to get guilty pleas, and so much more.  The overall effect of the cash bail system is also highly racially discriminatory, with proportionally far many more people of color detained before trial than white folks.  However, there is always a way to make a bad situation worse.

SB-10 began as an honest attempt to address these problems, and replace them with a more just system.  However, massive revisions were made to SB-10 a mere three days before passage.  These revisions caused many organizations, including the ACLU and the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice to withdraw their support for the bill, citing its potential to vastly increase pre-trial detention in California. (The Criminal Justice Committee has analyzed SB-10, and prepared a diagram of the process it envisions.)

Christopher White

In 2017, Christopher White was standing by his truck in Encinitas when his friend Jeremy Owens assaulted a local woman, grabbing her by the neck and beginning to pull her to the truck.  By his own account, he yelled at Owens to stop.  Owens stopped, and as the girl fled, Mr White yelled “Go in the house!”  His friend got in the truck, and the two men drove away.

Over that weekend, Mr White tried to convince Owens to turn himself in, and discussed with other friends Owens’ need for counseling.

The San Diego County DA’s Office charged White with attempted rape and kidnapping.  He was denied bail, on the grounds that he was a danger to society.  He was also offered a plea deal which included three years of unsupervised probation.

In Re White

A member of our Branch’s Criminal Justice Committee recently attended a meeting at the League of Women Voters, and got a chance to discuss White’s case (called “In Re White”; text of brief here) with his defense attorney, Laura Schaefer.

Schaefer explained that California is actually in a bit of a confusion around bail.  Cash bail (non-excessive cash bail) has been a right of California citizens under Section 12 of the California Constitution since before the turn of the last Century.  However, in the ecstasy of punitive spirit so common after the Civil Rights movement (and so often used to subvert the gains of that movement), multiple ballot initiatives weakened the right to release under Section 12.  Parts of the first measure were found in conflict with Section 12, but others were allowed to stand, and then the whole thing was relied on in another amendment, and SB-10’s vast apparatus of pre-trial detention is the latest bill to build upon this foundation.

Schaefer’s argument consists of two major points:

  1. Denying White’s bail was prosecutorial overreach and nonsensical on its face, as the DA’s Office simultaneously argued that White was too dangerous to be release before trial, but offered him a deal recognizing that he was not dangerous enough to even warrant supervision if he plead guilty.
  2. The initiatives that weakened Section 12 did so implicitly only, and the only correct way to amend section 12 is to do so explicitly.  Therefore, Section 12 still should apply in full.

If Schaefer were to win her case, those portions of SB-10 that build upon the ballot initiatives (namely, the pre-trial detention provisions, NOT the release-without-bail provisions) would be void, and cash bail would continue in California past October 2019.

There is a companion case to In Re White, called Humphrey, that specifically addresses excessive bail as unconstitutional under Section 12.  It could also invalidate much of SB-10.

Arguments are ongoing before the California Supreme Court.

Interested in Criminal Justice?

Get involved with our Criminal Justice Committee; email [email protected] for more information.

Statement from NAACP President, André J. Branch, regarding the e-Blast and “Apology” from Ms. Donna Tripi, Principal of La Jolla Elementary School

In September, Ms. Donna Tripi, Principal of La Jolla Elementary School, sent an e-mail Blast in which she warned parents to be “vigilant” regarding a man thought to be an “African American male.”  On Monday of this week Ms. Tripi issued an apology. The apology is as disturbing as the original e-mail message.

She repeats the description of “the Man,” mentioning his race, but not that of the parents, the children, or her race.  This repetition reinforces the idea that these parents, their children, and all who read the communication have something to fear from African American males.

The passive voice used in the “apology” conveys the writer’s unwillingness to take full responsibility for perpetuating racist stereotypes about African American males.  One wonders what she is apologizing for when she writes, “I spoke to the parents directly and am confident the concern they described was not imagined.”  What concern did they describe?  That they were uncomfortable being in the presence of African American men?  This self described “leader” issues an apology in which she reiterates that, “We want parents to be vigilant, . . . .”  A so called “apology” in which one reiterates the need for vigilance (“watching for possible danger”) in the presence of African American males, and in the context of an event in which the subject is supposedly an African American male, is no apology at all.  It is continued race baiting.

Ms. Tripi says clearly in her original e-Blast from La Jolla Elementary School that “nothing happened due to the vigilance of the parent, . . . .”  This outrageous assumption that there was some danger that this parent had to fear is what deserves an authentic apology.  The fourth bullet in the e-Blast from La Jolla Elementary School is especially disturbing:  “If you see something that doesn’t feel right, report it to the non-emergency police line . . . .”  Ms. Tripi should understand that with this direction, she is contributing to countless more individuals not feeling right in the presence of African American males.  Moreover, she can be assured that many more innocent African American males and females will have unpleasant encounters with police officers inquiring about their innocent, lawful behaviors because someone was uncomfortable with them just living their lives.

We continue to be disturbed by the last line of the e-Blast from La Jolla Elementary School:  “We’re all hoping it was an isolated incident, but reminders are always helpful.”  AN ISOLATED INCIDENT OF WHAT?  Seeing an African American male?  We can assure Ms. Tripi that she and her constituents will see many more African American males—and they may be wearing hoodies—and Ms. Tripi and all readers of her communications have no more to fear from African American males than they do from white males in hoodies—or suits and ties.

Action Alert: Make Lynching a Hate Crime

Dear Members and Friends,

The crime of lynching continued even after slavery had been abolished as the ultimate expression of racism and hatred in the United States following Reconstruction. For over a century, it has been used to kill, terrorize and intimidate African Americans and the communities in which we live.   It is a horrific form of torture, murder, and intimidation and domestic terrorism.
Senators Kamala Harris (CA), Cory Booker (NJ), and Tim Scott (SC) and Congressman Bobby Rush (IL), along with 28 of his colleagues in the House of Representatives have introduced the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act, S. 3178 / HR 6086 in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. This urgent legislation would make lynching a hate crime, therefore eligible for the additional federal tools and resources used to investigate and prosecute hate crimes. We need this legislation if we are going to seriously address this form of domestic terrorism

The Senate bill, S. 3178 was approved of unanimously by the Senate Judiciary Committee on 10/11/2018 and it is the urgent hope of the NAACP that it will move through the Senate and the House and then be signed into law quickly after the election during the “lame duck” session.

For more information, as well as information on how you can become an advocate, please read the attached Action Alert.

HOW YOU CAN ADVOCATE:

No Charges in the Death of Mr Earl McNeil

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan, in a move that saddened many and surprised few, declined to file charges against the National City Police Officers who failed to protect Mr Earl McNeil while he was in their custody.  Along with her announcement of non-action, some of the video footage and other documentation has now been released.  Ms Stephan evidently believes the level of indifference to human life and dignity it shows does not rise to a criminal level, regardless of what contribution it may have made to Mr McNeil’s death.

Community Activists, led by Ms Tasha Williamson, disagree with Ms Stephan’s lack of action, and vow to continue to advocate for justice for Mr McNeil.