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