The NAACP communicates with powerful people

Questions for the Diamond Business Improvement District

Aug 4, 2020

Ms. Lilliana Garcia, Executive Director
Southeastern Diamond BID
415 Euclid Avenue, Suite K-13
San Diego, CA 92114

Dear Ms. Garcia:

Unfortunately, I have not received a response to my original email dated July 28, 2020 and forwarded to you by SDBD Board members Jamal Jackson, US Bank and Jr. Minister Hugh Muhammad, regarding the area in and around the intersection of Imperial Avenue and Euclid Avenue; specifically Huffman Plaza. I am writing to again ask for your response to my email as well as clarification on certain items related to the operation of the Southeastern Diamond Business Improvement District. 

According to the SDBD website your Mission Statement is as follows: 

The Mission of the Diamond Business Association is to foster economic prosperity by advocating for and promoting the growth of businesses in the Diamond District.

The Diamond name is derived from the geographic location of the corridors, which as depicted by your map, is a diamond. That brings me to my first set of questions.

1) Representation: It appears that the make-up of the Board of Directors (minimum of 7 and maximum of 13) includes only three businesspersons whose business are actually located in the SDBD. Three others use the Ochi Courtyard (5003 Imperial Avenue: The BID Cowork Space) as their business address. Finally, the Board Chair is an associate member and also the head of Civic San Diego. 

The Diamond Cowork is owned and operated by the Diamond Business Association, Inc. We manage the manage the Diamond Business Improvement District (BID). We are the first BID managed cowork and the first cowork in our district. (Source Diamond Cowork website).

Question 1-A: Isn’t it a conflict of interest for BID Board Members to also rent space in The Diamond Cowork? 

Three of the current seats are expired and it appears that McCord has already served two terms beginning when he was co-owner of the Alpha Club.

Question 1-B: What is the marketing that occurs to attract new members and then to encourage participation on the board? Where are you in implementing the schedule identified in the By-Laws Article VII Election of Directors?

Question 1-C: Please explain why there isn’t more diverse geographic representation on the board? The boundaries include two industrial parks Gateway Center East (anchored by Costco and Raven Street), businesses along Logan Market street, Federal Blvd. etc. giving us the opportunity to have corporate support where currently there is none. Cox Communications, Coke Cola, KGTV Channel 10 are all businesses that could be a big help to the area and would add substantial presences to the SDBD board.

2) Vision: I started with the Mission Statement for a reason: the words economic prosperity stick out. What is the vision? Not to compare apples and oranges but Little Italy has a very successful BID. Yes, there are many reasons why; one of the strongest being the celebration of the history of the area. 

The Diamond BID was created in large part due to the late Brooks Huffman, working with the late Councilman George Stevens. Why is this important? Because he started his own business, Huffman Barbeque, in 1967. Three of the BID members are located in an office immediately east of Brooks Huffman Plaza. It was Brooks Huffman who convinced Councilman Stevens to install the lights on the overpasses in 1999. The website speaks to none of this, and the plaza is currently a disgrace to his name and what he tried to do. 

Ochi Nursery will be remembered because it is now the site of apartments that carry the same name, but who knows the story? There is historic significance to Ochi Nursery. Bronze Beauty Salon, Gentry Barber Shop are 2nd generation businesses still operating… who knew?

Question 2-A: When will you use the history of the area to make the community proud again, and enlist their support in the effort to generate economic prosperity? 

Question 2-B: Why isn’t there a strong plan to finally and creatively take care of Huffman Plaza? There are at least three plans on the books that are implementable and can serve as the catalyst to encourage support of a Maintenance Assessment District (MAD). There was support in the early 2000’s and if residents and business owners can actually see what the funds (in part) would be used for, they would support it. This would help to attract new businesses to all of the ground floor retail that is currently empty.

3) Final Questions

Question 3-A: We would like a copy of the latest SDBD Strategic Plan.

Question 3-B:  Is there a reason the Valencia Business Park RFP is not noted on the SDBD website under Available Commercial Property?

Question 3-C: What is the SDBD’s official position on the proposed Wellness Center on Market Street and why?

Question 3-D: How does the BID interface with the Chollas Valley and Southeastern San Diego Community Planning Groups? 

The economic heart of our community rests in the strength of our businesses. We need to understand what is being done and how it can be improved.

Thank you in advance for your responses.

Sincerely,

Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch

Cc: Board of Directors, SDBD
Monica Montgomery, Co-Chair City-County Reinvestment Task Force
Nathan Fletcher, Co-Chair City-County Reinvestment Task Force
Mayor and San Diego City Council

Union Bank and the Promise Zone

July 31, 2020

Mayor Kevin Faulconer
City Admin Building
11th Floor 202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Council President Gómez
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Cate
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Moreno
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Bry
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Kersey
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Sherman
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Campbell
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Montgomery
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101
Councilmember Ward
City Admin Building
10th Floor
202 C Street
San Diego, CA 92101

To the Mayor and the San Diego City Council:

If you want to go fast go alone; if you want to go far go together.

—African Proverb

For hundreds of years the lives of African-Americans have not been valued by our society.  We have been enslaved and discriminated against, either directly in law or by laws carefully designed to seem neutral but actually to be discriminatory.  As a result, we have been unable to accumulate the resources to cushion the effects of disasters like COVID-19.

We therefore ask the Mayor and City Council of San Diego to pay very careful attention to those institutions that support people in the Promise Zone, and not allow major institutions to treat them with disrespect and neglect. You know our needs are dire; 97% of the kids in the zone are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches.  The long history of advantage society has given to others means we need your assistance now.

The Promise Zone continues to be neglected by major corporations, and yet neither the Economic Development Department, the Diamond Business Improvement District, nor the City takes an interest.  We are putting you on notice, and we expect you to put them on notice, that we are not going to tolerate this kind of mistreatment any longer.

Yet another major financial institution, this time Union Bank, has chosen to ignore its obligations under the Community Reinvestment Act and close its branch at Federal and Euclid (see attached).  This puts a great deal of extra stress on residents of the area, who now must travel all the way to Rolando on public transportation during the COVID pandemic. Please use your influence to get Union Bank to reverse this decision.

School will start in less than a month, and our students will once again be home instead of in the classroom.  They’ll have the electricity for distance learning, even if their parents are out of work, since SDG&E is being understanding.  They may not, however, have the Internet, since Cox is not offering forgiveness on bills.  Perhaps the City can use its influence to get relief to Promise Zone kids who need to learn.

Where, in all this, is the Diamond Business Improvement District?  Why are they not watching out for our residents and exerting their influence over businesses in the area?  Could it be because there are vacant board seats going unadvertised?  Could it be because the board President is an employee of Civic San Diego, and thus has a conflict of interest?

We are weathering two crises now; the COVID-19 virus and the COVID-19 economic depression.  We need bold leadership to see all of our citizens through these two threats.  The people of San Diego will not accept less!

Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch

Mr Tony Wilson Did Not Have to Die

July 28, 2020

Mr Tony Wilson’s fatal encounter with the National City Police occurred on September 19th of 2019, before COVID, before Mr George Floyd, before so much that has finally brought police violence into the focus it deserves.  The case is back in the news because of a Public Records Act request made by NBC San Diego, and the subsequent release of the footage from the officers’ body cameras.

How sad that our local law enforcement agencies were still discussing their de-escalation  “philosophy” the night Mr Wilson was arrested.  How sad that they did not have de-escalation policies and procedures in place then.  This would have been a perfect time to use de-escalation.  Mr Wilson was obeying the officers; had they slowed down, had they given him a chance, he might be alive today.

Rather than practice de-escalation, which was an option is not a prescription, the force they used was unnecessary and excessive, by any reasonable standard. Despite his obedience, they jumped on him, smashing his face to the ground, and one of the officers tazed him five times in just 60 seconds.  The stress was simply too much for Mr Wilson, and after that all-too-familiar “I can breathe” and “help me” he fell silent forever.

This would also have been a perfect time for a PERT team.  San Diego law enforcement has a terrible record when it comes to the mentally ill, but one of the few bright spots are the PERT Teams.  When PERT is there, when PERT is allowed to take the lead, better decisions are made, and fewer brothers, fathers, sisters and mothers grieve the loss of their troubled family members.

The County of San Diego needs to increase funding for the mental health services we need; they must not put it off until COVID passes.  COVID makes mental health care so much more necessary!  They need to make sure there is PERT training available.  They need to make sure people like Mr Wilson can get help without having to have an encounter with the police.

As for National City, their Police Chief makes much of their newfound interest in de-escalation.  To him we say, we are watching you.  National City is the 2nd oldest Police Department in the County, and they have a history of interactions with unarmed people in mental crisis ending in death.  Let’s see if anything changes, or if you are just paying lip service to try to deflect our attention.

Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch

Neighborhood House Racial Justice Meeting

On June 29th, President Maxwell attended a meeting at Neighborhood House, where the San Diego Police Department shared answers to questions from the Urban League, their proposed de-escalation and other procedures, and the racial makeup of the Department.

2020-06-29-Neighborhood-House-SDPD-Community-Meeting

Racial Issues are Alive and Well in San Diego Unified

July 7, 2020

Students from Patrick Henry High School in the San Diego Unified School District are amusing one another by posting pictures in blackface.  This, while much of the nation is experiencing a moment of consciousness about the true extent of racial injustice in our society, and taking to the streets in support of their fellow human beings.  Clearly, the killing of Mr George Floyd is not what is in the consciousness of San Diego Unified students when it comes to African-Americans; instead, it is the mockery of the minstrel show.

Perhaps one of the reasons these students lack consciousness of their actions is that the district continues to employ (and promote!) teachers who themselves find blackface a matter of amusement, like Dean Schmidt at Serra High.

Racist incidents are going to continue to show their hideous faces until we address the systemic racism in our schools.

Cindy Marten, however, continues her crusade to pretend we live in a “post-racial” society and that she runs a “post-racial” school district.  Why else would she have abolished the Race, Human Relations and Advocacy Department?

Mr Kevin Beiser, you are trustee for all the youth in the district.  We ask that you rise to this occasion and show some bold leadership.  We ask that you call the Superintendent onto the carpet and hold her accountable.

Mr Beiser, this superintendent tried to sweep this incident under the rug, as she has so often done in the past.  This superintendent has shuffled her organization chart nearly 20 times, and never brought much in the way of diversity to the decision-making table.  Instead of addressing each new problem, she merely crows that much louder that there are no problems, in hopes of never having to make real change.

Also, Mr Beiser, while we note the school’s statement regarding its name, we invite you to consider the words of high school student Mr Dino Jones, when he called for the renaming of his own “Patrick Henry High School”: It’s a direct contradiction to speak out for freedom for some and still own slaves.  It is time to change the school’s name; we do not think it appropriate to operate a school named after a man who said “Give me liberty or give me death” but refused to grant liberty to others when it was his to give.  That is hypocrisy, not heroism.

Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch

Sally Port Procedures Lead to Shooting

July 6, 2020

Last night around 8pm, a Latino man was left in a San Diego Police Department squad car outside the Sally Port.  He managed to slip his handcuffs and make his way into the trunk of the car.  There, he found an officer’s backpack with a spare weapon in it.  He took this weapon and then returned to the back seat of the vehicle.

When SDPD officers noticed the gun, they began to converge on the vehicle.  They allegedly felt threatened and opened fire on the man.  Next, they sent in a police dog to attack the injured man.

Now this 25-year-old man is injured and his family is traumatized.  Who knows how many others were in the area when the shooting occurred, who may have been struck by a stray bullet.  All because a man was left unsupervised in a vehicle in a crowded area.

There have been far too many dangerous incidents around the Sally Port.  It is up to Mayor Faulconer and the City Council to take control of the situation and get the SDPD to do the right thing.

We call on the US Attorney and FBI, who are already investigating officer-involved-shootings in the SDPD, to do a complete investigation of:

  • The Sally Port and associated polices and procedures, with a view toward the safety of officers, detainees, and the public at large.
  • Policies and procedures that allow detainees to be left unsupervised in vehicles, especially in highly-trafficked areas.
  • Polices and procedures regarding “backup weapons;” whether they are permitted and how they must be secured if permitted.

We offer our thoughts and prayers to the injured man’s family and friends.

Sincerely,

Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch

Racial Profiling Spike is No Surprise

July 6, 2020

We read with interest the NBC report on an increase in racial profiling complaints (https://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/spike-in-racial-profiling-complaints-to-san-diego-police-department/2358982/).  We read with interest, yes—but not surprise.

The NAACP San Diego Branch President spoke to Chief Nisleit, Executive Chief Guaderrama and Assistant Chief Lucas last week, and told them that officers from special units of the San Diego Police Department who come into the Southeastern Police Division area use terms like “those people” and then switch to another channel and say “Four riding deep in a car down Imperial” or Skyline Drive.  “Those people” and “Four” are used to mean African-Americans or Latinx residents.  Police Sergeants monitor these radio channels, and they say nothing about this racist language.

Language matters, and what our new officers hear is what they learn, so racist language must not be permitted by SDPD.  Furthermore, such language, while offensive in itself, while demoralizing to the African-American and Latinx officers who hear it, is a clue to racist attitudes that may lead to biased policing (as shown in the NBC report), police violence, and police murder.  Such language must not only be impermissible, but those who use it must be subject to sanction, preferably removal from the police force.

Even more concerning is the fact that Police Sergeants approve this behavior by their silence.  What does that say about the supposed “Community Policing” goals of Chief Nisleit’s department?  What does that say about future leadership, when the SDPD continues to refuse to bring in outside leaders, and instead relies solely on promoting from within this pool of officers so obviously tainted with racist language, attitudes, and behavior?

Even our own African-American police officers experience racial profiling.  When they’re off-duty, they get stopped by SDPD officers.  When they ask for why they were stopped, they get inadequate explanations that point clearly to racial profiling.  Their complaints to Internal Affairs, however, get called “unfounded.”  The San Diego Police Department seems to go to any length to avoid admitting that they have a problem with racial profiling, permitting even the racial harassment of their own officers.

All of this simply underscores the need for the replacement of the current captive CRB with an independent Commission on Police Practices, so the IA department’s whitewashing of complaints can be exposed and remedied.

America’s Finest City deserves America’s Finest Leadership, not an inbred racist culture in the upper echelons of the San Diego Police Department.

Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch

Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Ritchie Must Go

July 6, 2020

Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Ritchie must go because he emailed an altered photograph of the 8-minute-46-second killing of Mr George Floyd by Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, showing a naked black male porn star kneeling on Mr Floyd, with the words “Quit resisting…” added.  The image was lewd and racist and vile and should disturb anyone with a shred of human decency.  It is simply unacceptable in a law enforcement officer.

Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Ritchie must go unless the front page of the Sheriff’s website, which says “We hear you. We stand with you. We do not condone actions based on bias, prejudice, racism or hate” is a lie.

Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Ritchie must go because this is far from the first time he has shown himself to be an overtly racist and deplorable human being, much less a law enforcement officer.  

Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Ritchie must go because he violently killed Jorge Ramirez in 2005.  We invite you to read the Attorney General’s memorandum (see sandiegonaacp.org/ritchie-must-go) which describes him overtaking an injured, fleeing man, shooting him in the back of the chest to bring him to the ground, and then firing bullet after bullet into him, while circling around him.

Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Ritchie must go because he violently killed Robert Medina in 2006.  We invite you to read documentation of this gratuitously violent pursuit and gangland-style execution of the clearly unarmed Medina (see https://www.leagle.com/decision/infdco20140926a78) which describes him engaging in a risky vehicular pursuit, pinning Medina’s vehicle between law enforcement vehicles, and again engaging in his favored pastime of circling around immobilized human beings while repeatedly firing his gun and sending bullet after bullet into their helpless bodies.

Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Ritchie must go because this incident shows he has clearly not changed his evil, racist and hate-filled ways, and he is a danger to all residents of the County.  He must go before he kills again.

Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Ritchie must go because he belongs in jail, not on the streets.  We understand that before the advent of AB-392, it may have been difficult to prosecute obvious murder by the police.  The record, however, is plain, and this incident is enough all on its own to see him gone from the Department.

Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Ritchie must go in spite of the “Police Officer’s Bill of Rights,” because the real Bill of Rights, the one in the actual Constitution, must take precedence.

Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Ritchie must go, and yet he gets a paycheck from Sheriff Gore, despite the Sheriff’s Office statement that “We were so disgusted that an employee may have shared such a vulgar [and racist] image that we took immediate action.”

Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Ritchie must go, because the murder of Mr George Floyd has awoken some of his fellow deputies, who will no longer stay silent regarding his words and actions.

Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Ritchie must go, if Sheriff William Gore is to show significant leadership on the issues of race and policing.  Perhaps he has so far failed to show such leadership because, despite having 9 contracts across the breadth of the county, his leadership team fails to bring diversity to the decision making process.   Sheriff Gore must act on this rogue deputy, and he must bring diverse voices to his table to end his echo-chamber of bias building on bias.  If he fails to do these things, we will know that he is complicit in systemic racism and that is time for different and bolder leadership in the San Diego County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Ritchie must go, and if the Sheriff shows enough good faith to make that happen, the NAACP San Diego Branch stands ready to assist him evaluate and improve his recruitment, training, and discipline policies to ensure that the Mark Ritchies of the world are behind bars, not behind  Deputy’s badges.

Francine Maxwell, President
NAACP San Diego Branch

Read: Leaders Call for Equity in Ambulance Service

Some weeks ago, we urged the City of San Diego to proceed with a new EMS contract and to make sure it provided equitable service. We were joined yesterday by others. Read what they (and we) had to say:

Civil rights leaders call on San Diego to demand racial equity in new ambulance contract

Local civil rights leaders say San Diego’s plan to potentially switch ambulance providers this year is a key opportunity to show the city’s commitment to racial equity and boosting neighborhoods that have been traditionally underserved. San Diego recently changed some police practices and created an Office on Race and Equity in response to recent protests demanding racial equity.

Racism at Serra High

June 30, 2020

Re: Racism at Serra High

Safe educational environments for Black students are increasingly rare. Equally scarce is the safety of all Blacks amid tyrant policing within their community environments. 

With tensions pressing from each angle, we are now witnessing the tipping point: the near collapse of a school and justice system that have thrived and benefited from the suppression of black excellence and existence. 

The suppression has its methodical roots in racism and oppression. Historically, the educational system has served as the stage to blindside and initiate black children with their first racist experiences. Here, they also experience the candidly critical and degrading lens in which their blackness is viewed by educators. 

The educators who operate in these suppression tactics clearly have not developed the qualifications and intentions to educate black students. Conversely, they have also not evolved to the highest educational standards as educators prior to licensing. California Teaching Credential standards maintain that an educator practice a mindset that connects with, teaches, and draws the best qualities out of all students with high regard to their culture and individuality. 

The California Education Code, the California Department of Education, and the San Diego Unified School District all publish regulations, policies, and procedures prohibiting discrimination, harassment, and intimidation in California Public Schools. However, due to lack of enforcement of these laws, the NAACP receives an ongoing flow of complaints that describe an array of legal violations in the learning environment. Several complaint investigations reveal that San Diego Unified School District knowingly inflicts harm on black students and their communities with various inequitable practices, and by allowing perpetual educator misconduct directed against blacks. Many complaints describe schools as protected hubs with pockets of the racism echoed in societal climates at large.

In such climates, black students walk to class through the halls of injustice, hoping to proceed unscathed. However, experience tells them the further they proceed in their education, the higher the likelihood of experiencing an educator practicing overt or covert racism.  Here, black students realize the cost of integration is being immersed in the toxicity of racist Educators. Here, black students are blinded and asphyxiated by smokescreens (of “educational equality”) & mirrors (reflecting oppressive acts).  

We take an unrelenting stance against such practices and hold every educator and staff member accountable for ALL actions against black students and their communities. We call for swift and immediate action regarding the unresolved case at Serra High School. 

Let the record reflect that in 2013, three educators made a conscious decision to paint their faces with dark brown paint to mimic a black bobsledder at a social engagement. Let the record also reflect that dressing in “black face” mirrors the disgraceful legacy and practice where white performers painted their face black to mimic characters that demeaned and dehumanized African Americans. Let the record further reflect, to date, hundreds of thousands of black students, black families, black educators and staff, the black community and countless other members of the public have also reviewed the educators pose and smile for the cameras as they celebrated in “black face”. 

We ALL observed their “black face” and the damaging after-effects.

The Educators decisions to bask in “black face” was a direct violation of: 

  • Our Human rights
  • Our Civil rights 
  • California Standards of the Teaching Profession 
  • Teacher’s code of ethics
  • Teacher’s code of conduct
  • California Education law 
  • California Dept of Education policy and procedures
  • San Diego Unified District administrative policies and procedures 
  • U.S. Dept of Education policy and procedures
  • Abuse of Power
  • Public Trust

Though the public has called for the resignation of all three of the educators that posed in “black face” and the public has initiated an active petition with nearly 800 of 1,000 signatures signed, only two of the educators have resigned, leaving one of the culprits at Serra High School.  This means, for the past 7 years, the safety of all students, especially black students, has been compromised and the educational environment was tainted. The inaction of district officials has allowed Joseph Schmidt to linger in an educational environment, making it easy to inflict further harm. We understand that Mr Schmidt is once again the subject of complaints from Serra High students.

The NAACP stands with the public in outrage and again call for action to eradicate racism on every school campus, including Serra High School, a Title 1 school.  

We demand the U.S. Dept of Education’s Office of Civil rights to take action. We call for action from the California Department of Education to audit the practices mentioned and the use of Title 1 funds at Serra High. We also call CDE to audit the other Title 1 schools within SDUSD (again) due to the many failures to take adequate actions against documented racism against black students. We call for the resignation of upper management and other SDUSD school officials who have allowed this matter, along with other racially charged atrocities against blacks to go unresolved under their watch. We DEMAND you uphold the applicable U.S, State, Federal, and all other laws set forth to protect our children. Enforcing the Safe Place to Learn Act is a fair place to start. 

Sincerely,

A Concerned Parent and Member of the NAACP San Diego Branch Education Committee