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.
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