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Hardy L. Brown

Promoting The Good In Your City Begins In The Council Meetings

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By Hardy L. Brown

This past Tuesday was an interesting day in watching the Riverside and Fontana City Council meetings. In Riverside, there were two items that caught my attention. One was on a proposal to promote the “Live in Riverside” program. This is where the city and all of its entities would talk up the various reasons for someone to live, buy homes, educate their children and shop in Riverside. Mayor Ron Loveridge told the council that the city is in competition with every city in the Inland Empire to attract middle and upper income families and businesses to do business with Riverside.

He also cited one city (I will not name) in the area that was having problems keeping their middle class at home.

Speaking in favor of this proposal was the Board of Realtors who cited schools as one of the main reasons people will purchase a home. Two things on my list are safety and the city’s image. Not everyone in attendance was in favor of the proposal but the council allowed their voices to be heard and after much discussion passed the proposal in a unanimous vote to give direction to staff for study and implementation.

Moving to the Fontana council meeting, I found them discussing billboards and advertising banners for small businesses in strip malls and individual stand-alone businesses. It was interesting to watch them interface with the staff making the presentation. All council members were respectful to each other and used common courtesy with staff. They even allowed the city manager to get information from the police enforcement division without getting frustrated with anyone.

When council members were not sure of how to express what they wanted, the staff was eager to share their thoughts to help flush out their ideas. The image of watching them in session was that they were a team, while having different thoughts on how to get it done. It was the team that gets the credit or in this case it will be the businesses and citizens of Fontana that will reap the benefits of this ordinance. The council also spoke highly of the need to work with and in partnership with the school district in providing funds to youth activities where possible. Mayor Acquanetta Warren spoke with pride about every council member attending the local championship game in Fontana.

Now mind you they do not always agree but it was how they disagreed with respect towards one another that impressed me. This is one of the reasons I am going to endorse Matthew Slowick and Lidia Wibert for re- election to the city council. They have served the city well with their knowledge and representation of the city in public, more on them at a later time.

Back to Riverside and the discussion on a responsible banking proposal suggested to them by a clergy group. They cited the need for banks to be good citizens when it comes to loans and working with citizens to keep their homes. All of us know how the banks have made out big time from home foreclosures and Wall Street bailout by our government. We have local citizens who are in trouble and the banks will not work with them, this does not equate to them as being good neighbors and I agree.

After many voices of support for this idea from the community, the council voted to have the staff research and draft an ordinance for the council to consider.

Again like Fontana it was the manner in which the discussion and interaction took place that gave the image of leaders working together for the good of the city.

Local NAACP ask for State and National Office to Assist with the Investigation of Police Shootings in San Bernardino City

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By Hardy L. Brown

Patricia Small, President of the San Bernardino Branch of the NAACP said it best, “It is about lives and police violence”. One of my questions to our community is “what is the value of your child’s life? How much would you settle for with the city after they report to you that your son has been shot nine times in the back by police and reportedly had a gun that was never found?” In the case of 19-year-old Tyisha Miller of Riverside, it was twelve times in the back while she sat unconscious in a locked car needing medical attention. How much would you settle for? Would you settle for $200,000, $500,000, $1 million or $3 million and sign a written confidential statement that no one did anything wrong if a police officer killed your son or daughter?

On the flipside of those questions is a sworn police officer that has been properly trained to make a split decision in the heat of the moment while thinking at the same time my life is at stake. This is a valid concern that the NAACP wrestles with each and every time a complaint is registered in their office. I know there are some dangerous streets in our society with people who will take a life if given the chance. I also know that we have some police officers who are quick to pull the trigger because of preconceived ideas that African American males and Latino males are violent with criminal records.

Walter Hawkins, Chair of the NAACP Political Action Committee said, “these shootings have gone on for a long time and for that reason the NAACP is investigating to see if race, training of officers and other things might be contributing to this pattern. The State NAACP did a report back in 2005 on police shootings and some of the same concerns were raised with some improvement in other urban areas, but for some reason San Bernardino has not improved.” I know that some officers spend their entire career and never shoot at or kill anyone, while some officers are repeat shooters. Only an investigation will let us know the answer to these concerns and get the proper protocols in place that will instill better relationships between the police and the communities for Blacks and Latinos.

Only a complete and thorough investigation by a community-trusted outside independent investigator can bridge the divide between the police officers and minority communities. Blacks and Latinos are the people who suffer from these shootings that our local District Attorney always find as legally justified in the eyes of the law. People of color in the City of San Bernardino make up over 75% of the population and the police department is comprised of 67.7% Whites. Not all police but some do have preconceived images of what they will do when standing in front of a Latino or Black subject. Some of you will remember when the police used the image of a Black man on their target range to shoot at. It was through protest and investigations that those kinds of practices were removed. I recall in 2007 where the police association endorsed Joseph Turner for city clerk. Joseph Turner had a questionable relationship with groups who hate Jews, Latinos, Asians, and Blacks so the public rejected him.

We must seek ways to move forward if we are to build a bridge over this divide and it will not be easy because the Black and Latino community has a long list of legitimate issues that must be addresses by the city council and police department.

WAG Asking The Federal And State Justice Departments To Investigate Police Shootings

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The Westside Action Group (WAG) took action Monday to invite U.S. Attorney General of the Justice Department Eric Holder and Attorney General for the State of California Kamala Harris to investigate the shootings of Blacks and Latinos by some officers in the San Bernardino police department.

Mr. A. Majadi of WAG pointed out quickly that their organization does not want to give the wrong impression by taking this action. “We are law biding citizens who recognize that not all police are doing this but we have a responsibility to the community to find answers to these shootings with satisfaction of our people,” he stated.

According to the San Bernardino City Attorney Jim Penman’s report to the city council, there are 23 open legal cases filed against the city of which he is requesting more money to hire outside legal counsel to defend the police. It was reported in the SUN Newspaper recently that a judge ordered the city to settle a case of Wrongful Death Police Shooting of Jerriel DeShawn Allen a 19-year-old African American. The family settled the case for $575,000 dollars, which is a small amount for a loss of life, if you ask me. No amount of money could replace any one of my children. Over ten years ago, the Tyisha Miller family settled their case for $3 million with the City of Riverside in the police shooting death by the police department, plus the officers lost their jobs.

If these police shootings are done by a repeat offending shooter or different officers perhaps WAGs investigation or any investigation conducted by the justice departments will uncover that information.

It is clear that the community is concerned about the safety of their family members as stated by Ratibu Jacocks a member of WAG as the discussion went from member to member.

Wallace Allen, Publisher of Westside Story Newspaper, offered one solution. He suggested the police be under a Citizen Police Review Board with subpoena power.

While WAG and other organizations wrestle with this issue the cost and image of the city will continue to be a problem. Just this past week, another council member took his oath of office and pledged to give the police what ever they needed. He joins three other council members whose political campaigns were funded by the police and firefighters association. In the past elections for the 2nd and 3rd Ward council seats, these associations provided 98.3% and 93.8% of their campaign money. Not only did they give the money they walked neighborhoods and did phone calling to voters.

These same officers have told me personally that they are afraid to live in the city because they fear for their safety yet, they are not afraid to walk these neighborhoods to sway voters. What would you do if a police officer or firefighter knocked on your door and said, “will you help me elect councilmember Jenkins, Kelly, McCammack, Valdivia and City Attorney Penman for good government?” As the television show announcer would say, “What would you do?”

In one report I read, only 11.9% of police and 6.7% firefighters live within the city limits while the others say they are afraid. Now I wonder why these officers are afraid. Is it because the city is comprised of over 75% Latinos, African Americans and Asians and the police officers are 60.7% White and 73.7% of the firefighters are White.

Now I am sure they will say that race is not part of the problem but I recall back in the day when the majority of Blacks and Latinos lived on the Westside of town, the police officers living in the city at that time said they were afraid to come to the Westside.

The new police chief should welcome any outside help he can get to root out any untrained officers and establish some new protocols and training in his department. I know he thinks he can turn this department around but other chiefs before him thought the same thing and they have moved on to greener pastures.

So I commend WAG for stepping up to the plate to initiate this investigation by the federal and state departments of justice, while celebrating 40 years of community service.

WAG Asking The Federal And State Justice Departments To Investigate Police Shootings

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The Westside Action Group (WAG) took action Monday to invite U.S. Attorney General of the Justice Department Eric Holder and Attorney General for the State of California Kamala Harris to investigate the shootings of Blacks and Latinos by some officers in the San Bernardino police department.

Mr. A. Majadi of WAG pointed out quickly that their organization does not want to give the wrong impression by taking this action. “We are law biding citizens who recognize that not all police are doing this but we have a responsibility to the community to find answers to these shootings with satisfaction of our people,” he stated.

According to the San Bernardino City Attorney Jim Penman’s report to the city council, there are 23 open legal cases filed against the city of which he is requesting more money to hire outside legal counsel to defend the police. It was reported in the SUN Newspaper recently that a judge ordered the city to settle a case of Wrongful Death Police Shooting of Jerriel DeShawn Allen a 19-year-old African American. The family settled the case for $575,000 dollars, which is a small amount for a loss of life, if you ask me. No amount of money could replace any one of my children. Over ten years ago, the Tyisha Miller family settled their case for $3 million with the City of Riverside in the police shooting death by the police department, plus the officers lost their jobs.

If these police shootings are done by a repeat offending shooter or different officers perhaps WAGs investigation or any investigation conducted by the justice departments will uncover that information.

It is clear that the community is concerned about the safety of their family members as stated by Ratibu Jacocks a member of WAG as the discussion went from member to member.

Wallace Allen, Publisher of Westside Story Newspaper, offered one solution. He suggested the police be under a Citizen Police Review Board with subpoena power.

While WAG and other organizations wrestle with this issue the cost and image of the city will continue to be a problem. Just this past week, another council member took his oath of office and pledged to give the police what ever they needed. He joins three other council members whose political campaigns were funded by the police and firefighters association. In the past elections for the 2nd and 3rd Ward council seats, these associations provided 98.3% and 93.8% of their campaign money. Not only did they give the money they walked neighborhoods and did phone calling to voters.

These same officers have told me personally that they are afraid to live in the city because they fear for their safety yet, they are not afraid to walk these neighborhoods to sway voters. What would you do if a police officer or firefighter knocked on your door and said, “will you help me elect councilmember Jenkins, Kelly, McCammack, Valdivia and City Attorney Penman for good government?” As the television show announcer would say, “What would you do?”

In one report I read, only 11.9% of police and 6.7% firefighters live within the city limits while the others say they are afraid. Now I wonder why these officers are afraid. Is it because the city is comprised of over 75% Latinos, African Americans and Asians and the police officers are 60.7% White and 73.7% of the firefighters are White.

Now I am sure they will say that race is not part of the problem but I recall back in the day when the majority of Blacks and Latinos lived on the Westside of town, the police officers living in the city at that time said they were afraid to come to the Westside.

The new police chief should welcome any outside help he can get to root out any untrained officers and establish some new protocols and training in his department. I know he thinks he can turn this department around but other chiefs before him thought the same thing and they have moved on to greener pastures.

So I commend WAG for stepping up to the plate to initiate this investigation by the federal and state departments of justice, while celebrating 40 years of community service.

Westside Action Group (WAG) Celebrates 40 Years of Community Service

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What started out as an idea by my neighbor Robert “Bob” Parker talking with me about the need to organize a political action group is celebrating forty years of service. Bob was an entrepreneur at heart and always believed in ‘charting your on course’ when it came to providing for your family and guiding your destiny in the political arena. In our discussions before and during the genesis of WAG, he wanted to train and support candidates but also raise money for campaigns. The name was supposed to be Westside Political Action Group but due to the political climate at the time, the word “political” was dropped.

We had a population of men who had experienced losing their jobs if it was known they belonged to the NAACP or associated with the wrong political group. Bob and I wanted to break the chain of politicians coming into the Black community holding a rally, spreading a few dollars, making promises before election then leaving and return the next election cycle. Bob would tell me, “Hardy I cannot be elected because of my interracial family,” so he helped push me into that arena. Blacks were being elected to public office all over America and Norris Gregory had been elected to the newly created 6th Ward council seat along with Jessie Arias, the first Latino who was elected to the 1st Ward in the city of San Bernardino. John Woods, the first Black to serve on the San Bernardino City Unified School District Board of Education, had also just been appointed to a vacancy.

With those changes in the political climate came racial unrest in the schools and at city hall. This change brought about the discussion by some of what kind of leadership was needed to lead the Black agenda in the community. We had organizations like the NAACP, Urban League, NCNW, League of Mothers, Black Fathers and other social clubs in the community but none meet weekly or was able to address problems or political issues at the “drop of a hat” moment. The San Bernardino NAACP had just ripped the walls of de facto segregation down in San Bernardino and so had the Riverside NAACP in Riverside. The Inland Area Urban League had harnessed many companies to support and give jobs to Blacks and Latinos. The NCNW was training youth in various careers while the League of Mothers were taking on many issues for equal opportunity in the city and county.

The churches of San Bernardino that played an activists role during that time were Delmann Heights Four Square Gospel in Delmann Heights under the leadership of Rev. William Dillard; New Hope Missionary Baptist Church under Rev. David Campbell and St. Paul AME under Rev Leroy Carter. I had a personal family relationship with all three pastors and members of their churches. I was a member of the Delmann Heights Four Square when we hosted and formed the Black Fathers Association and moved to St. Paul AME under Rev. Carter where Bob was a member when we formed WAG in 1972.

You see even with all of that going on in our community, there was still a need to for an organization that could accommodate a crowd on a moments notice and respond without having to consult with a national office, the bishop, church council, board of directors, mayor, board of supervisors or company president. If WAG members present at a meeting decide to act after listening to a speaker, they acted. If they think you have a personal issue they will tell you. And like Ratibu Jacocks told a crowd last week at Cal State University, San Bernardino, WAG is a family and if you come to the meeting and jump on a member you will soon discover the family connection.

WAG continues to succeed because of its openness and allowing people to express their opinion regardless of race, sex, age, religion, political party or status in life. You can have a MD, PhD or no degree but have an issue or concern that needs to be addressed and WAG is open to listen every week just like church.

The last time I attended a meeting before I became ill was in 1999 during the Tyisha Miller shooting. I brought Rev. Bernell Butler, spokesperson for the Miller family, to address the group. Now that we are celebrating forty years of service and the police are still shooting our youth, I am thinking about attending Monday’s meeting to help bring attention to the public safety issue confronting our community today.

WAG has a rich history of community and political service to the Inland Empire and Bob Parker would be proud to know that it is still pressing forward under the leadership of Alton Garrett, Ratibu Jacocks, Walter Hawkins and Don Griggs. I know I am. Congratulations WAG.

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