The following letter was sent on November 20th, 2019, to the Mayor of the City of San Diego:
27 October 2018
The NAACP San Diego Branch condemns in the strongest terms the violent acts of this morning which took the lives of 11 worshipers and injured multiple other individuals. We pray that God would comfort the families of these innocent victims of yet another senseless, vicious act of gun violence in the United States of America.
This vicious assault was the most lethal attack on Jews in the history of the United States of America. The realities of this day are heartbreaking, to say the least. People of all faiths, races, and ethnicities cannot but be shocked, horrified, incensed and saddened at once in the face of this slaughter of innocent life. Racism and hate must be condemned regardless of the identities of the perpetrators or victims.
Responding to killing with more killing is not the answer. The death penalty is not the answer to gun violence. Sweeping gun law legislation is what is needed now.
We call on the President of the United States to cease and desist from his hate speech—period.
In plain and simple language, we call on the Houses of Congress in the United States to take decisive, unified action to enact legislation that would help to prevent these acts of carnage on unsuspecting, innocent victims in our country. No private citizen should be able to purchase an AR-15 assault rifle. AR-15 assault rifles are weapons of war. As a first step, Congress should take the reasonable action of requiring thorough background checks—including, but not limited to, social media sites—as a minimum requirement for the purchase of firearms of any kind, at venue where firearms are sold. Moreover, there should be a waiting period of at least three business days before a firearm can be delivered to a buyer. We call on the Houses of Congress to move swiftly on this legislation on the first day that they are back in session in order to stop the proliferation of guns and gun violence in the United States of America.
André J. Branch, Ph.D.
NAACP San Diego Branch
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.
Yesterday we sent the following letter to the City of San Diego:
Comment on CAPER Fiscal year 2018/ HUD Program year 2017
Dear Economic Development Department,
While we appreciate the work involved in producing the CAPER report, the reality that it contains is quite alarming.
The San Diego Branch of the NAACP Housing Committee has many unanswered questions about the report, far too many to note here.
However, the most glaring and distressing, in terms of what we understand as HUD regulations, is the report on Minority and Women Owned Businesses.
Table 10 indicates that of a TOTAL of 162 subcontracts awarded by the City of San Diego:1. NONE went to minority owned businesses2. Nine went to Women Business Enterprises3. ONE HUNDRED FIFTY THREE went to white non-Hispanic males.
We would like this information to be explained in detail in the final report and we would like to understand your justification for these results.These numbers directly contradict the spirit and letter of the purpose for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. These figures put in jeopardy future federal funds that would come from HUD to the city of San Diego.There are many more causes for concern in the report and we will comment on those at a later time.We look forward to the final report and welcome the chance to cooperate on some of the problems that will be ongoing for some years in the future.
Sincerely yours,Carol SpongChair, Housing CommitteeNAACP San Diego Branch
Here is Page 15 of the report, which makes the situation abundantly clear:
Nearly $73M and not a penny to a business owned by a person of color. Can’t believe it? Read the full FY18 Draft CAPER Report on the City’s website.
On July 9, 2018, President Trump announced that he would nominate Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court to fill the vacancy of retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. After thorough research and evaluation the NAACP opposes his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court now.
In 2005, despite the opposition of the NAACP, Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to be a judge on the he U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. On almost every issue imaginable, Judge Kavanaugh has proven us right to have opposed him; in fact, in both his decisions and his dissents, Judge Kavanaugh has proven himself to be even more of a problematic extremist than we anticipated. On the issue of gun violence protection, health care, workers’ rights, voting rights, affirmative action, and many more that are important to the NAACP, Brett Kavanaugh has proven that he is no friend of the NAACP.
This nomination is too important to rush. This nomination should only be considered by the Senate elected by the American people in November, 2018, when they are fully aware of the stakes and after the 116th Congress is sworn in. The Court is meant to be an unbiased guardian of rights and liberties of all Americans. The country desperately needs a fair-minded and independent jurist on the Supreme Court, not a divisive and biased ideologue who will further shake the public’s faith in our nation’s justice system. The constitutional process for appointing and confirming the next justice must be thoughtful, careful, deliberative, and conducted with well-informed bipartisan support. The Senate should not consider a nominee until a new Senate is seated next year, after the results of the midterm election are in place. This will fully allow the American people, those who will be most affected by the confirmation, to truly have a voice in the selection of the nominee.
Please call both your Senators and urge them to vote “no” on this confirmation, sand to wait until January, 2019 before making such an important decision.
For more information as about the situation, or to find out how to contact your Senators, read the attached Action Alert.
Thank you for all you do,
We have joined the community in calling for full release of evidence surrounding the fatal injuries suffered by Mr McNeil while in custody of the National City Police Department.
We join now with the community in calling for the San Diego County DA’s Office to recuse itself from the investigation of the case, as Mr McNeil was intimately involved in the DA’s work.
For more information on events surrounding Mr McNeil’s death and subsequent lack of transparency from the National City Police Department and Government, please see this timeline.
We of the NAACP San Diego continue to demand all relevant information and video recordings to be released to the McNeil family. We are glad to add our voices to those of Ms Tasha Williamson and other community members who are demanding transparency on the part of the National City Government.
With the gracious assistance of Ms Williamson, we offer the following timeline of events, so that you can better understand the evolving situation in National City.
Please note: at the end of this timeline, there are several events listed in which you may participate if you are as outraged about the treatment of Mr McNeil, his family and members of our community as are we.
Timeline of Events Involving Mr Earl McNeil
May 26th, 5:36am
Mr McNeil calls for assistance using the emergency phone outside the National City Police Department. Mr McNeil is detained and placed in a restraint device called “the wrap.” He is detained in the lower level parking garage of NCPD Station for an indeterminate length of time.
San Diego County Jail refuses to accept Mr McNeil, citing unconsciousness.
Mr McNeil is admitted to UCSD Medical Center Trauma Care Unit with massive brain and neurological damage, as well as facial abrasions and swelling.
Mr McNeil’s family is contacted by NCPD and told Mr. McNeil had a heart attack while restrained in a hogtie position.
Mr McNeil’s family goes to NCPD to ask questions and get police report. They are told Mr. McNeil was not under arrest and there are no reports to give them. Detective states “Look, your cousin spit on my officers and they are upset and want to know if he has AIDS or Hep A.”
Mr McNeil’s family posts to Facebook seeking assistance. Other users refer them to Tasha Williamson and Aeiramique Meeka.
Mr McNeil’s family holds joint press conference with Ms Williamson and Ms Meeka at the steps of the San Diego Hall of Justice.
Mr McNeil’s family, after conferring with Mr McNeil’s physicians, decide to withdraw life support on June 7th.
Mr McNeil’s family seeks legal counsel from Francisco Aldana and Mark Lane.
June 7th, 11:00am
Mr McNeil’s family, supported by Ms Williamson, Building Justice, CAST, Generation Justice, Justice 4SD33, SURJ, Women Occupy San Diego, Racial Justice Coalition of San Diego, CAIR and other community members hold a press conference across from the UCSD Medical Center, demanding an accurate account of Mr McNeil’s hours in custody, and release of all video recordings by the National City Police Department and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
June 7th, 4:30pm
NCPD makes first public statement regarding the fatal in-custody injuries of Mr McNeil.
June 7th, 5:30pm
UCSD Medical Center staff withdraw life support from Mr McNeil. Mr McNeil shows signs of distress, and is sedated to preclude the posssibility of suffering. Mr McNeil’s family and community members keep vigil over Mr McNeil.
Mr McNeil dies.
Community members and organizations supporting Mr McNeil’s family holds press conference in front of National City Police Department, again demanding an accurate account of Mr McNeil’s detention and release of all video that might shed light on his injuries.
GoFundMe created for Mr McNeil’s funeral expenses.
June 18th, 10:00am
National City Police Chief Manuel Rodriguez meets with the family of Mr McNeil. Sources say the family was told:
- No video footage may be released because there is an ongoing investigation
- Autopsy results may not be released because there is an ongoing investigation
- Despite there being an ongoing investigation, there was no misconduct on the part of National City Police Officers
Mr McNeil’s family walks out of the meeting due to disrespectful demeanor of Chief Manuel Rodriguez.
June 18th, 2:00pm
Ms Williamson, Dwayne Harvey and Marcus Boyd meet with National City Manager Leslie Deese and Mayor Ron Morrison at 2:00pm to discuss timeline of events and the meeting between Mr McNeil’s family and Police Chief Rodriguez.
June 19th, 5:00pm
Community members and organizations supporting Mr McNeil’s family meet with media to demand the resignation of NCPD Chief Manuel Rodriguez for his unprofessional conduct with Mr McNeil’s family and his inadequate answers to their questions.
June 19th, 6:00pm
Community members, many of them organized by Ms Tasha Williamson, visit the National City Council Meeting to ask for release of evidence surrounding the case. Ms Williamson is arrested for speaking over her time, and is briefly hospitalized for injuries sustained during her arrest. Mr Rafael Bautista is kicked repeatedly by National City Peace Officers while he was coming up the stairway they were going down with Ms Williamson.
The NAACP San Diego Branch Executive Committee passes a motion to join in the demands for release of the evidence to the McNeil family, and to offer assistance to Ms Williamson in her defense.
June 27th, 11am
Mr McNeil’s funeral Christian Fellowship Church. Deputy District Attorney Handler was in attendance.
Community members visit the National City Council Meeting, to demand release of evidence surrounding the case. These include Ms Williamson, NAACP San Diego Branch President Dr André J. Branch, and other members of the NAACP. Assemblymember (and NAACP member) Shirley Weber attends and calls for greater transparency.
Mayor Ron Morrison asks the NCPD to remove Ms Williamson. Community members surround her, and the NCPD allows the community to walk her out.
What Happened to Earl McNeil? Facebook page created.
Abolish ICE/Justice 4 Earl McNeil hunger strikers hold press conference and launch of hunger strike for July 10th – July 23rd.
Community members visit the National City Council Meeting, again demanding release of the evidence. NAACP members Amie Zamudio, Steve Dorner, and Renita Payno speak. For the first time, two councilmembers break ranks and call for greater transparency by the city they represent. After the public comment period, the meeting is declared out of order and adjourned to the following afternoon.
The National City Council Meeting resumes. Three people are arrested and two (Aeiremique Meeka and Mark Lane) are injured by the NCPD. Everyone is asked to leave the building. The crowd waits to ensure all community members emerge safely, including those arrested and injured. The National City Council declines to add an agenda item addressing Mr McNeil’s death to their agenda.
Local reporter Wendy Fry (NBC7 News) reports that “BLM will begin to stage riots in the streets of National City.” NBC7 apologizes for the false statement and deletes it from their website.
July 18th – July 20th
Community outcry regarding Ms Fry’s reporting continues. Ms Fry condemned for her unjustified alarmism, which further endangers black and brown people. Community members point out that the only assaults caught on camera were those perpetrated by National City Police Officers.
National City Council resumes its meetings and public speakers speak out about Earl McNeil and the way people are being treated during arrest. Mark Lane goes over his time and is escorted out by NCPD.
Mr McNeil’s autopsy results are “unsealed” but still not made public. These results are claimed to indicate the presence of a controlled substance and that injuries were due to cardiac arrest.
At the final National City Council meeting before the August recess, community members are greeted by Sheriff’s deputies in riot gear. At the meeting, six community members, including Tasha Williamson, Aeramique Meeka, and NAACP member Amie Zamudio stage a “die-in” to demand release of the evidence. They are all arrested. There is a marked difference in treatment; the white protesters are handled gently, and the black and brown ones are treated roughly and painfully.
Community members are released from jail and welcomed by the community. Ms Williamson is again treated for injuries sustained during her arrest.
In a meeting organized by Mark Lane, NBC7 News Executives meet with organizers for Justice 4 Earl McNeil. Executives apologize for Ms Fry’s reporting and pledge to improve relationships with and reporting on black and brown communities.
Ms Williamson speaks at Raul Rivera March and Rally for Earl McNeil.
Sheriff Bill Gore requests to meet with Mr McNeil’s family and their attorneys. The Sheriff’s Department indicates they wish to work with the family to avoid further outrage and respect their need for information.
Important Upcoming Events
August 10th, 7:00pm, First Unitarian Universalist Church, 4190 Front Street, San Diego
NAACP holds a Prayer Vigil. Members of the clergy, laypersons, and all persons of good will are invited to mourn and pray with us over the in-custody deaths of African-Americans like Mr McNeil and all the other injustices that are visited upon our community.
August 16th, 6:00pm, 1243 National City Boulevard, National City
Public comment at CPRC (National City Police Review Board). Public attendance requested.
August 25th, 1-3pm
Town Hall for National City Residents to speak with officials from the National City Government and Police Department.
September 6th, 6:00pm, 1243 National City Boulevard, National City
National City Council Meeting. Strong public attendance requested.
A Busy Month
July was a busy month for the Housing Committee. We spent quite a lot of time at the San Diego City Council, tracking five important issues:
- A $900M affordable housing bond, proposed by the San Diego Housing Federation
- A proposal to ban discrimination against Section 8 voucher holders
- A proposal to increase the Transient Occupancy Tax (hotel tax)
- A proposal to build Permanent Supportive Housing in all Council districts
- A proposal to increase the “Inclusionary Requirement,” that forces developers to include affordable housing in their developments, or pay a fee so the San Diego Housing Commission can fund affordable housing
Members of the Housing Committee were present when all these issues were discussed, advocating for more affordable housing in San Diego. The outcomes were mixed.
The Housing Bond
The $900M housing bond would have made a substantial dent in the city’s deficit of affordable housing, at a very modest cost to the average homeowner. Homeowners (especially white homeowners) are and have been subsidized in very many ways by our government, and a hundred or two dollars per year would not hold a candle to these subsidies. For example, the Federal government spends twice as much per year in tax credits to homeowners (or homesellers) as it does on all housing subsidies for the poor.
Sadly, this much needed housing bond was withdrawn by its proponent, the San Diego Housing Federation, due to the Mayor’s proposal to renovate the Civic Center, which includes a half-hearted pledge to perhaps spend a little money on homelessness.
Section 8 Discrimination Ban
Councilmember Georgette Gómez brought forth a proposal to ban discrimination in housing based on source of income. This would apply to Section 8 voucher holders and also some others, such as homeless people who are given vouchers. We spoke in favor of this at both the Smart Growth and Land Use Committee (where it was referred to Council without recommendation, on a 2-2 vote) and at the full Council (where it passed, 7-1.) We view this as a very positive development; Section 8 voucher holders are overwhelmingly people of color, and to denial of housing to Section 8 holders is often a simple proxy for racial discrimination.
Transient Occupancy Tax
Councilmember David Alvarez proposed a ballot initiative to raise the Hotel Tax to provide a new source of funding for the Homeless. This increase in the hotel tax would provide approximately the same amount of funding the City of San Diego currently spends on Homeless services; we support it strongly and hope to see pass in November. We did, however, warn the City that we would watch them closely, and see that this funding was not used to replace other monies, as is sometimes done, but would result in a net funding increase.
Permanent Supportive Housing in All Districts
Councilmember Ward made a proposal to set a goal to build 140 units of Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) in each of our 9 Council districts. This would yield enough units to house San Diego’s 1200 “chronically homeless” people. The “chronically homeless” are people who are disabled, physically or mentally, to the point where they simply cannot get it sufficiently together to get or keep stable housing. “Permanent Supportive Housing” means these folks get housing units that are not only very inexpensive, but also have other services available, such as onsite health services, caseworkers, etc. It is truly the only way to get these folks off the streets (except for the Mayor’s method, which involves jail.) PSH is not necessarily literally permanent; some folks do improve to the point where they no longer need supportive services; this is, however, quite rare in our red-hot real estate market. Dr Branch served as our spokesman:
We are pleased to note that this item passed was approved by the San Diego City Council Select Committee on Homelessness and should be docketed for the full council sometime early this fall.
The Inclusionary Requirement
Housing developers are subject to an “Inclusionary Requirement,” which means they are required to include a certain percentage of affordable housing in their developments. When the inclusionary requirement was passed 15 years ago, it was set to 10% of the units in a housing development needed to be affordable for non-affluent people. (Developers were allowed instead to pay a fee of ~$10 per square foot instead, for the City to use to support its own affordable housing efforts; you will see this referred to as an “In Lieu” fee. The Council has voted to revisit this requirement; the intent is to see it raised to that more affordable housing is developed. We spoke in favor of this also.
The State of California does an assessment of housing needs in each area; for San Diego, they said our needs for 2010-2020 were:
Overall, we’ve built a little less than half of what we need to build; the shocking thing is the vast majority (85% of it) is aimed at the affluent:
We therefore support forcing developers to build more affordable housing.
Questions? Please contact the housing committee at [email protected].