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A Look Back At George Floyd Protests In San Diego, Local Leaders Speak Out Against Police Violence And Systemic Racism, USD Professor On What’s Driving Protests

 June 1, 2020 at 12:02 PM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:01 San Diego regroups today after a weekend of protest, trying to make sense of what happened and where to go from here. I'm Alison st John along with Maureen Kavanaugh. This is KPBS midnight edition. Today is Monday, June 1st governor Gavin Newsom used his frequent platform to give covert 19 updates to address the statewide protests over the death of George Floyd. He says, white Americans have to be accountable for the institutions that perpetuate racism. Speaker 2: 00:43 The black community is not responsible for what's happening in this country right now. We are. We are. Our institutions are responsible. We are accountable to this moment. Let's just call that out. Speaker 1: 01:01 He says, society has to ask itself what is going to do fundamentally to promote change for the long term because he says, as we are seeing today in the streets, people have lost patients in San Diego. Protest broke out around the County, primarily in La Mesa and downtown San Diego. Estimates of the size of these protests run from about 500 people in La Mesa to over a thousand downtown demonstrate is chanted, carried signs, blocked sections of freeways and knelt down in the street to peacefully protest. The death of George Floyd and incidents of police brutality around the nation after dark on Saturday and Sunday, some vandals and looters also took to the streets, smashing windows, setting fires, and stealing. KPBS reporter max Rivlin. Nadler covered the protests in San Diego this weekend and he joins us now. Max, welcome to the program. Hi, good to be here. So max, how did the protest in the Mesa develop on Saturday? The protest and the Speaker 3: 02:04 Mesa came after a few days after a La Mesa police department officer, uh, was caught on camera repeatedly shoving a young black man outside of the Grossmont trolley station. It's unclear what happened before that confrontation between the young man and the police officer. But people were really upset about the way that the police officer treated this young black man and that it was typical of interactions between members of the black community and police officers in the area and of course in the country at large. So the protest was a response to that. And not only that, of course, the death of George Floyd and other individuals across the country in recent weeks. Um, so the protest started in front of the Mesa police department at around two o'clock. There were over a thousand people there. People were taking the trolley to get there. People were driving. It was almost entirely peaceful. Almost everyone was wearing a face mask. Uh, people were handing out, going around, handing out hand sanitizer, and people were trying to space as much as they could. Speaker 1: 03:06 So was this demonstration in La Mesa and yesterday's in downtown San Diego during the day? Was it tense? Speaker 3: 03:14 There were definitely tense moments. Uh, when they first were outside of the La Mesa police department on Saturday, there were no police officers. Only when they got to the eight expressway, when they got to interstate eight, did police officers from the California highway patrol begin to corral them a bit? They set up lines and they got them off of the highway within a few hours. Of course, that was shut down for a few hours, but there was no confrontations. There was nothing thrown between the protestors and the police officers. Of course, people were upset. They were yelling expletives at officers. But officers for the most part, kept their cool ask people to keep moving. There were conversations between police officers and protesters trying to get at basically the basis of their grievances and why they're demanding change. So it was part of the much more civil protests that we're seeing across the country, which have happened earlier in the day. Um, of course that took a change later, later in the evening. Speaker 1: 04:09 Can you give us a sense of who participated in this weekend's protests? Speaker 3: 04:13 Yeah, so black lives matter San Diego actually didn't sponsor any of the protests this weekend. Um, people who were associated with black lives matter of course attended many of the protests and it was a lot of people who were coming unaffiliated who were upset over the treatment that they've been seeing of, of black people in the custody of police. And of course the lack of accountability. Um, I would say that there was a varied amount of different kinds of protest slogans of what people were saying. People were, you know, chanting things like abolish the police. Speaker 1: 04:47 What was the police response to the protestors? Speaker 3: 04:50 Both protests were peaceful for at least the first four to five hours in La Mesa on Saturday. There was no order to disperse and I saw no rocks being thrown at police officers. I saw a few water bottles, but no rocks being thrown out. Police officers who were there in front of the police department before tear gas came out flash Banes of these little rubber balls that they were shooting these, uh, other projectiles that could really do some serious damage to people. In fact, one woman was shot in the eye and then remains hospitalized. I saw the direct aftermath of that. So, um, the police response was basically to try to get this group to disperse as quickly as possible. And that took, um, something I've never seen in San Diego before, but the use of tear gas and kind of, um, uh, really kind of street warfare tactics. Speaker 1: 05:39 Now you spoke with San Diego County democratic party chair. Will Rodriguez Kennedy at the protests downtown on Sunday. What was his opinion on the police's response? Speaker 3: 05:50 His opinion was that they were the ones who were kind of pushing the um, tension and the violent act. He told me that basically before this it had been peaceful and only when they found them cornered to things really heat up. Here's what he said. Speaker 4: 06:05 So I think the police have to completely rethink their, their tactics when it comes to dealing with these types of crowds. You know, it would have been interesting if we got down to that quarter and the police took a knee with us or something where the chief or the mayor or someone in leadership of the city actually decided to empathize with the people who are sharing their pain about black and Brown men being shot in the streets. Speaker 1: 06:26 Now the evening uprisings were different and more destructive. What happened during the night in La Mesa and in downtown San Diego? Speaker 3: 06:34 Um, in both instances you saw kind of a change over from the people who had been protesting earlier in the day to a different crowd. People who are looking forward to property destruction, taking what they wanted from stores, breaking windows. I'm not going to say there weren't people at the protest who participated in both activities, but again, just seeing who was there earlier in the day, the signs that they had, what they were wearing, what their interest was to do to bring light to police brutality, um, and demand accountability in a changing of priorities as opposed to what the people were doing later in the night. It definitely seemed that a bunch of opportunists showed up and it was fairly coordinated that people knew that property damage was going to happen, that the police weren't going to be able or were choosing not to stop people from entering these shops. And this would be a great opportunity to help themselves to some merchandise. So, um, you're looking at a confluence of factors, a confluence of protesters, people out there against police brutality, people out there for different kinds of priority from the city and its budget. And then people who were there to kind of heighten the tension and take advantage of a police department that had kind of taken a bunker mentality and had not resorted to making a ton of arrests, but instead had tried to scatter as many people as possible away from a central location. Speaker 1: 07:51 We heard from a resident in spring Valley, Mary duty, a former educator who was shocked when she walked past the burned and vandalized buildings in La Mesa on Sunday. Speaker 5: 08:01 Well, you know what? I can't, I can't judge somebody else's anger, you know, or how they're going to protest, you know, so you know, it is what it is. You know, if this the way it is getting the world's attention, then that's how it's going to have to be. Speaker 1: 08:15 I've been speaking with KPBS reporter max, Revlon Nadler max. Thank you so much. Thank you. Joining us now is Joshua Williams who attended Sunday's protest in downtown San Diego. Thanks for being here. Joshua. Speaker 6: 08:35 You were having me, Speaker 1: 08:36 well, paint a scene for us. Where were you and what was yesterday's protest like for you? Speaker 6: 08:41 So protests are definitely first and foremost on the front lines. Fortunately I was able to take part in trying to the organization and planning it. Um, and it was, it was a peaceful protest. There's a lot of individuals who showed up from all different backgrounds and some of the identity for the cause. And then justice is that we are seen everyday here, um, the over the past March and over the past years or decades. Actually, Speaker 7: 09:04 I understand that you spoke at the protest yesterday. What, what was your main message? Speaker 6: 09:09 My main message was that it's a time to come together to unite. And I really thought to my core that it would be such a powerful message that will protesters people in the community that are paying tax dollars to have these officer's protective service if they were out there walking with us, knowing with us doing these protests, and I, and I can guarantee you yesterday we were marching around for five hours long before any type of one ruling. This actually broke out, does a lot of people out there speaking piece, but the headlines to all, they actually really ever like showcases the riding and the destruction, which usually comes from after a aggravation has occurred from both sides. But also a lot of times law enforcement does aggravate that situation. Um, whether, I don't know if it's pride or whatever it is, and then to be out there on these and witnessing this firsthand on your knees saying you're having a peaceful protest with your hands up, then have tear gas come out. Speaker 6: 10:05 It's not okay. There was another point in the demonstration where legitimately I had everybody know down and have a moment of silence and were trying to figure out where, where's the next place that we want to walk? Whether or not we're going to take over the freeway to where we make our statement be heard or not. And you can see that the law enforcement heart moments and then they lined up next to, you know, this SWAT teams of people out with the right gears lining up to rattle the situation of a peaceful protest, a peaceful March. Speaker 7: 10:33 What would you say, Joshua, to police who are attempting to assess whether something is a threat or not and how to respond? Speaker 6: 10:42 I think the best way I can describe and answer that question is that starting in grammar school, you're taught ways to diffuse the situation without force. And so my expectation one for myself is very high in my, my expectations with law enforcement is even higher once it should be because they're supposedly supposed to be trained to diffuse a situation safely without force. Speaker 7: 11:05 Joshua, you said that it's time to act. So what kind of action are you looking for from San Diego leaders? Speaker 6: 11:13 First and foremost, it's the accountability of officers and really kind of giving that back to the community. Since some officer here to protect and serve, we need to be able to hold them accountable when they're not doing it in the right and the under the right pretenses, you know? And so I think there's a lot of ignorance that could be out there right now because that people might not be agitated on, you know, the proper channels to go through. So I would love to see community all and partake in community halls to really educate the people on how to change these laws, how to get the proper officials elected to really speak our voice. You know, we can't just assume that everybody knows how this world works, you know? And then we're out here and not able to really see the that we want. And so I know there's a couple of different channels and avenues that we actually have to go, but I almost, I would love to put it on city officials because I know me sitting in a meeting for my job, you know, being one of the only black representatives in that space, it's hard to really kind of speak up on the things that you're seeing because you want to maintain that professionalism. Speaker 6: 12:14 But when you're an elected official, it's your job. It's your duty to speak for all people, all of your citizens. And so that's when it can easily start with them by hosting a tangible town hall to where you actually ready to put in the work to change the structures and the systems that are allowing this type of thing just to send her every single day. Speaker 7: 12:33 And Joshua, you know, you're saying that you're not out there for violence and I hear you. Can you put into words what you're out there? Why are you out there? Speaker 6: 12:42 I'm out there to give a platform and help be a voice for those who feel like they can't speak up. I'm not here to directly speak for anyone. I'm here to speak my own piece, but at the same time, there's a lot of individuals that don't know how to answer that question or their message could be distorted. But like I said, there's other, other, those other individuals who are fed up. And so you one of the first and foremost, you have to acknowledge that I think this country all too often are taught to internalize their drama and not to speak up on their experience because it's too much of a crucial conversation. We can no longer be afraid to have these crucial conversations or we're going to allow it to build up to the point you're going to be back in the corner and it just explodes. And that's, nobody wants that. Speaker 7: 13:26 Joshua, thank you so much. Speaker 6: 13:27 Thank you as well. I really appreciate your time. Speaker 7: 13:30 I've been speaking to Joshua Williams, who participated in Sunday's protest in downtown San Diego concerning the death of George Floyd, San Diego police chief David [inaudible] tweeted, quote, the San Diego police department expresses its sincere condolences to the family of George Floyd. Our profession must do better. We will continue to work tirelessly to build trust, establish clear policies, ensure consistent training, and maintain open and honest dialogue with our communities. KPBS also contacted the La Mesa police for an interview regarding this weekend's protest and did not hear back from the department in time for today's program, Speaker 8: 14:07 uh, Speaker 7: 14:13 the city of La Mesa. So the first round of protests that turned into violence and gluten after dark on Saturday night. The focus on La Mesa was because of a video that circulated showing a La Mesa police officer confronting an African American man of the Grossmont trolley station. We're joined now by La Mesa city council woman Akila Webber. Thanks for joining us council woman. Weber, Speaker 9: 14:34 thank you so much for having me. Speaker 7: 14:36 So how would you describe what happened in the video that I just mentioned that the Grossmont trolley station? Speaker 9: 14:41 Well, you know, it's really hard to say because we still don't have the full, uh, video footage of what transpired the entire time. But the snapshot that we do see was concerning, um, in the manner in which the officer was, um, interacting with the young man that was at the trolley stop. But again, we still don't have the full picture of why the individual was stopped in the first place. And what happened in the first few minutes of interaction between the individual and the police officer. Speaker 7: 15:11 Now you were elected to the La Mesa city council just about two years ago. How big an issue do you think racial profiling is in the city's police department? Has there been any evidence of it in the past? Speaker 9: 15:22 Well, I think, you know, this is an issue that has been present throughout the entire nation and is present in every city and something that every city and every state is addressing and should be addressing. Um, there was an incident in 2018 that where there was, um, a police officer who mishandled, um, a young student that he looks high school, an African American female, um, that does, that did raise a lot of concern within the community. And that's one of the reasons why I chose to run for state council on the Mesa. Um, and then we've had this issue. So, you know, La Mesa is a smaller city. We have a smaller, uh, police force. They, um, work very well with our community and we're very appreciative of them. Um, they're always at our schools. They're always at our community events. And overall we have very good, um, community police relations. And like I said, we're very grateful for our entire police force and our police chief. But like any other, uh, police unit with throughout the country, there are sometimes instances that occur that we really need to look to make sure that we're training our officers very well. Looking at the diversity within our officers in terms of race and also gender, just to make sure that we are providing the best, uh, relationship and the best protection and support that we can for our community that we all serve. Speaker 7: 16:42 Were you satisfied with the way your police force responded? Well, I think that, Speaker 9: 16:47 you know, given the size of our police force, um, and the magnitude that came in and everything that was happening, I think that we did the best that we could at the time. Um, I was in constant communication with our city manager. Um, our police chief and also our mayor. Um, we did reach out to the County to get more assistance. We actually also reached out to the state and requested that the national guard come in assist. That request was denied because the national guard had already been deployed to Los Angeles. Um, so, you know, we are a small city. There were a lot of people that evening that came in with a different kind of agenda and we utilized all of the resources that we could to the best of our ability. Speaker 7: 17:34 So Councilwoman Weber, what do you think needs to happen during your next term, your, as your term continues on the limits of the city council to tackle these issues? Well, Speaker 9: 17:44 you know, like I said that we definitely need to continue to work on, um, really getting our police oversight commission up and running. Um, once we look at the video and see exactly what transpired, then we need to look to see, okay, what kind of extra training and resources do we need to provide to our police officers? Um, you know, sometimes maybe just doing the minimum requirement of deescalation training may not be the best thing. Maybe we need to go above and beyond that. Additionally, like I said, looking at our police force and saying, well, are we a diverse force? You know, do we need to make sure that we're bringing in other ethnic groups, more females? Um, because that can always bring a different perspective and balance out. Um, you know, what our public safety officers can offer our community and also offer themselves Speaker 7: 18:34 and we've seen curfews the last couple of nights. Are you expecting war? Speaker 9: 18:39 Well I, you know, that's something that we're going to talk about this afternoon. Luckily last night, uh, we did not have any incidents in La Mesa. We implemented a seven o'clock curfew the night before. We implemented a 1:30 AM curfew. And the reason for that was because things were just getting so out of hand. And once we realized once we were informed that we would not be getting the national guard, that that request was denied. Um, that's when we said, well we have to do something. And it was at that time where we met and we implemented the one 30 curfew. But last night it was at seven o'clock and you know, depending how things go today and how things are looking in San Diego, we'll determine whether or not we implement another one tonight. Speaker 7: 19:21 Thank you very much. Cancer woman Akila Weber of La Mesa. Thanks for joining us. Thank you so much for having me. Earlier today I spoke with San Diego city council when Monica Montgomery, who's been calling for actions and systemic racism, she attended a vigil last night at the County administration building. Yes, Speaker 10: 19:43 I did attend part of the protest at the County administration building. It really was a vigil to George Floyd and a a call for change. And so what I saw was a peaceful gathering, very peaceful, thousands of people on the lawn. And so when I left, I did hear that, uh, the sheriff had declared it an unlawful assembly based on some activity. I was not there when that occurred, but I can tell you that while I was there, it was extremely peaceful. Speaker 7: 20:18 So later on, after dark police in downtown San Diego did resort to tear gas and rubber bullets yesterday. Do you believe that the police department in San Diego responded appropriately to the situation as Speaker 10: 20:31 well? Let me say this. Uh, the police, uh, department did resort to tear gas and rubber bullets during the day as well. Um, and so this is a very tough situation because we have all types of people involved with different agendas. But I did also hear that, you know, there were a peaceful protesters that were sprayed with rubber bullets and tear death. I don't think that that's a constructive way to promote the first amendment for folks that are coming together in a time of hurt and pain. Um, I understand that officers have a dual responsibility to protect the first amendment and also protect people and they have to balance that. I also will never condone, um, that type of behavior towards peaceful protesters no matter what you've come out calling strongly for action to address the root causes of police racial profiling. So what needs to be done to change this in San Diego? Speaker 10: 21:26 Well, there are a few things that we're already working on. One of which is changing the structure of the community review board on police practices, changing it into an investigatory model or a hybrid model instead of the review model that we have now. Um, that is, um, in the works as we speak. Um, I have been dedicated to this since I was campaigning. My, uh, role as a chair of the public safety and livable neighborhoods committee is very important in this space. And my, you know, the memo that we have to do annually really lays out some of those priorities, um, in it is including, um, revising. You're looking at a ban on the carotid restraint. There are also deescalation policies that we need to really incorporate. Um, we need to look at our use of force policies and see how those can be changed when we, um, talk about our interactions with the public. Speaker 10: 22:22 The thing is we don't want an equity in enforcement. We want every person in this city when they walk out of their home to feel as though the police officers are protecting and serving them. I think most officers would agree with that, you know, but I want every person in the city and in this region to feel that way. And that is not the case right now. So we have a lot of work to do you think that announcing policy changes will be enough to turn the tide on the strong feelings that are emerging right now? No, I don't. I don't think it will be enough. This is a matter of the heart we have work to do as a nation. I think it's a step in the right direction. It's what I am here for. Oftentimes we've had protests and we have not had, um, uh, a reactive response from our, uh, government officials to actually change the way we do things within the government. Speaker 10: 23:11 We have to have that as a piece of, this is a large piece of this because we know that, uh, systemic racism is wrapped up into our institutions and we need to come to terms with that as a nation, as a state, as a region, as a city, you know, we do need to come to terms with that. I am not saying that this is, you know, the magic wand, but I do want people to know that we are working on this. We are doing what they have elected us to do. This is our responsibility. It's a great responsibility, but we have to work on changing policy and we have to work on changing hearts. What hope do you have? The things will evolve in a positive direction in the next few days. Well, hope is all I have. Um, we do not know what the future holds. Speaker 10: 24:00 I know why I'm in this position at this time and in order to create change within our system, I'm very committed and dedicated to that and I'm hopeful that, you know, Americans, uh, uh, residents of our country will stand together and get through this, but we will not get through it without dealing with the root issues that really plague our community. Um, and that is racism. Um, th this disparity, we have to deal with those issues in order to move forward. If we don't deal with those issues, we will move backwards. But if we do, we will continue to live the dream that we all hope that we'll be America one day. That's a woman want to come from Gumtree. Thanks for being with us. Thank you so much. Speaker 1: 24:56 The issue of police use of force is the focus of a California law that's new this year, AB three 92. It has been hailed as the toughest law in the nation against the use of unnecessary lethal force by police. The new law has encouraged police departments in the state to develop new training to address issues of implicit bias. But is the change coming fast enough? Joining me is the author of AB three 92 assembly woman, Shirley Webber from San Diego 79th district, which includes La Mesa and Dr. Weber, welcome to the program. Thank you. And thank you for the invitation. First, what are you thinking about all this, the tragic death of George Floyd and the protests and unrests that's followed? Speaker 11: 25:40 Well, you know, it became very clear to us on Friday that Friday was the anniversary of one year anniversary of the passage of three nine two out of the assembly with 85% of the vote. And it was a bill that was not supposed to be passed, but I think the members realized it in the assembly that we needed to do something. And by passing it in the assembly like that, it pushed it forward to the Senate very easily and with the governor. Um, but, you know, my heart was broken as I thought about it because, you know, we fought so hard to get that bill and that bill is being implemented and, and we're beginning to see some results of it in California. We're not having as many incidents of complaints regarding officers shooting unarmed individuals, those kinds of things. We haven't had that in California this year and we hope that doesn't happen. Speaker 11: 26:27 But, uh, so we, we're seeing the numbers going down. And so the idea that that training will work does work when it, when those who are receptive to it. And so we're beginning the process of training. Uh, but we can't let up because one of the things I noticed in the budget this year was that they, to reduce the funding for the training. And so this may make them realize, no, you cannot let up. You can not take your foot off the gas. We have to keep pushing forward. So it was very disturbing in some way to watch this watch what was going on. Um, I as a, as a, as a person who grew up in Los Angeles, um, you know, I witnessed the, the Watts revolt in 1965. Uh, the, the, uh, national guards were really posted on our front lawn, uh, because they won the corner. Speaker 11: 27:12 And we were one house from the corner. And I, and I watched his Broadway burned, uh, in Los Angeles. And so I'm kinda familiar with these things that happen, the, the incidents that occur as a result of a police misconduct. And then watching the community protest and then seeing others who were so frustrated come out and start burning things and, and watching the focus being taken off the issue that brought the Watts revolt or that blocked the Rodney King incident or whatever it was they've taking taken off of those issues and then placed on the issue of the violence and the Bernie. And, uh, and so as a result of that, we find ourselves, once again, 20, 30 years later, back into the same position where we're, we're witnessing this, this happening. I am optimistic that this time we will not let that happen. That, uh, we will keep our focus on the real issue that we have to talk about justice for everyone. That the issue that we're facing across this nation is over 400 years old. And when you look at it, this is really the first time that we have seen a revolt of this nation and nature that has affected every state in the union as well as across the nation. Speaker 1: 28:23 Do you think the governor's response to call for the national guard in Los Angeles was appropriate Speaker 11: 28:28 given what was happening? It was appropriate at the time, yes. Because it was, it had gone a little bit beyond just the peaceful protesters and raising the issue. And it had gone to others who may have not have had the same interest in motive and it was destroying a lot of things and it was probably would have escalated to some violence of people actually being hurt. Speaker 1: 28:47 You know, with AB three 92 and other legislation you've introduced, you have been one of the lawmakers leading on police reform in the state. And yet, even after deescalation training, deploying police body cams, implicit bias training problems still persist. So what is missing? Speaker 11: 29:06 Well, you know, there's a couple of things. We, we we pass three, nine two and we pass by, uh, the issue of racial profiling that we've passed nine, five, three computers before. So we've passed some legislation that's important and that impacts training and it has helped officers and chief of police who know their problems to resolve it. The one thing that we haven't, two things we haven't done, one we have not, um, made us as a Nash as a statewide policy. The issue of police review boards and empowering those review boards, they have the same power and the same subpoena power as the police review of themselves. And that's been a major issue that communities are frustrated because if please keep reviewing themselves and therefore the outside body can only look at those things that they've given permission to look at. Now, Los Angeles has, has changed its policy a little bit, but we have to really have a very transparent policy of police review. Speaker 11: 30:01 That's number one. Number two, police chiefs. Tell me all the time we need to change our recruitment process, that they find good people who would be wonderful police officers who had community engagement and what have you, but because they may have had a minor offense or something of that nature that they find those people being kicked out. Uh, sometimes they'll ask a question if you ever smoked a marijuana cigarette. And if they say yes, they're almost gone. Uh, one young gentleman told me that because people have bad credit, they can't be police officers and most of the young people he tries to recruit out of college have bad credit. So there are a lot of things that prevent us from getting the kind of officers we need. Speaker 1: 30:39 You're, you're a legislation AB three, nine, two addresses, lethal use of force, but not the use of force. We see in the video from La Mesa just last week where a young black man is repeatedly pushed back down in his seat by a white police officer. We just heard from your daughter, La Mesa city council woman Akilah Webber at La Mesa authority, say they're investigating that incident. How could incidents like that be addressed by legislation? Speaker 11: 31:04 Well, you know, first of all, the question becomes, uh, when we start looking at, um, uh, stopped and racial profiling, uh, we have a bill against racial profiling and, and, and looking at the information and the data that's collected. In other words, why are you stopping this person? Most of the incidents that we find ourselves, uh, caught into oftentimes are as a result of unlawful stops. People are stopped for what? Because not because they broke the law, but just because they were racially profiled. This young man in La Mesa sitting at the, at the, at the transit station had not committed a crime. They had not been a call that there was a person who had committed a crime. And as a result, he then is targeted. And what does it do? It sparks all kinds of issues with regards to law enforcement and their treatment of individuals unnecessarily. Speaker 11: 31:54 So we do have some legislation about with regards to that that needs to be implemented. Fortunately in La Mesa because of the situation, they immediately, uh, remove the person out of service. But that should be a part of the training as well, that this is something that we do not tolerate. Uh, the inhumanity that is, that is oftentimes given at a stop or those kinds of things. Uh, San Diego state did a study recently concerning my bill down five three and saw that there are still a tremendous amount of racial profiling occurring and stops. Uh, the information was presented to our city council and they have yet to respond to it. Speaker 1: 32:28 You have a message, Dr. Weber for black San Diegans who we hear over and over are just tired. Just, just heartsick with the state of policing that they're tired of hearing the Speaker 7: 32:39 things will change and yet it doesn't seem to change. Speaker 11: 32:44 Yeah, I feel their pain. I mean, you know, most of them who are, who have the feeling of frustration are younger than I am. And so, which means my frustration is two and three times theirs because I've seen more and I've heard more promises than before. What I say to people all the time is that one, we have to elect officials who have the courage to stand up. You know, many folks in my district are shocked that I fight so hard. And yet those who know me say she's done this for years at San Diego state. So this is, this is her Mo. I'd love to have a whole bunch of other elected officials in Sacramento who are as committed as I am to bring change. Uh, that would help significantly. So I tell folks, you know, it does matter who you vote for. It really does. Speaker 11: 33:24 Uh, so we have to tell young folks, you know, that yeah, this, this journey is long. It should not be as long as it is. And it won't be if we all come together and utilize the resources and the power that we have right now. Uh, this is pre the hearts of an awful lot of Cal California and people across the nation. We can not let the divisive nature of, of a few outsiders who come in and burn things or whatever they want to do, distract us and keep us not focused on what we have to do. We have to pollute, produce, police reform at every level. If not, people will not feel safe. Uh, I listened to a gentleman this morning from Minneapolis who said, basically, I'm not sure if I'll call the police again. And this was someone who had call the police on this guy. Speaker 11: 34:07 He said, I'm not sure if I'll call for help again. He said, because look what happened. You said I'd been better off to just ignore whatever took place and move on. And so, you know, we don't ever want to get to that level where the police becomes more of a, of a problem than a solve and then a problem solver. And so we have a lot of work to do. So I tell young people continue to fight this fight. Some of you who are marching in the streets and who have a heart and the spirit run for office, join me in these, suddenly help us with the task that we have here and let's make a difference. And so I think that will happen, but we have to basically keep pushing and not be distracted by the violence and the things that are around us. Speaker 7: 34:46 I've been speaking with assembly woman, Shirley Weber from San Diego 79th district and assembly woman. Thank you very much for your time. Speaker 11: 34:53 Well, thank you. Thank you very much. And we will keep pushing and everybody stays safe Speaker 7: 35:09 as we searched for a way forward, we turned to someone who spent his career focusing on issues of policing, urban poverty, gun violence, and building trust. Dr said Martinez is a professor of sociology at USD and he's researched community policing programs in Northern and Southern California. Professor Martinez, thanks for joining us. Thanks for having me. So now, incidents of police brutality and racial profiling have been cropping up painfully frequently in recent months. Why do you think we're seeing the civil unrest and protests are erupting now this week? Speaker 12: 35:41 You know, one of the things that I would start with is that if we look at the number of police involved shootings, they've remained constant. There hasn't been, as far as the preliminary numbers suggest a spike in the number of police involved killings. And so the question is why. And I think there's three factors that we can attribute to the, uh, civil unrest. Uh, one is that there was, uh, uh, at least three different police involved shootings, high profile police involved shootings. Uh, the one in, um, Kentucky with, uh, Brianna Taylor. Uh, we had the incident with George Floyd, uh, in Minnesota. Uh, and then there was, um, the young black man in Georgia, Aubrey Muhammad. And what all these instances have in common is that they are instances of high profile police involved shootings, but it's increasingly there's a developing consciousness to, to see these events as part of a national generalized, uh, phenomena. Speaker 12: 36:39 Um, and, but we've seen that before. So that doesn't quite answer the question. To really answer this question, we need to look at what's been happening in the context of COBIT 19. And I would argue that COBIT 19 pushed people to the edge, especially blacks and Latinos who have been disproportionately affected by, uh, covert 19. We know that more blacks have died and Latinos have died. People can't pay their bills, they can't pay their rent. They're having trouble putting food on the table. And I think that is what pushed people over the edge, mobilized people to the streets. And others. There's one last factor I would add is the increasing lack of police accountability. Uh, we've seen time and time again that local police departments, uh, have failed to take action and I think people have finally had enough. But I think, well, my short answer to your question is we have to think of the context of COBIT 19 as being a primary factor. Speaker 7: 37:37 So covert 19 has definitely contributed to the feelings that are bubbling up now. How much responsibility though do you think that local governments need to take for this level of frustration? Speaker 12: 37:48 Well, I think really it's really up to local government and state governments because there hasn't been much, uh, from, from president Trump. And so the onus is really on them. I'll tell you my, my biggest fear is that these protest movements and the people who are involved in them, you know, mostly black and Latino, uh, and increasingly, uh, whites as well, is that they're becoming criminalized. Uh, the, there, there are narratives in the media, uh, from law enforcement and from the president portraying, uh, these individuals as criminals, uh, as thugs, uh, as terrorists. And I think we need to move away from the language that criminalizes and dehumanizes, uh, what people are asking for it, which is basically just dignity, uh, and a recognition of the community grief that people are feeling. Uh, as a result of this. Speaker 7: 38:41 Do you think people are not sufficiently distinguishing between the protesters and the looters? Speaker 12: 38:48 Absolutely. I would, I would argue, I've talked to several, several of my colleagues who have been attending the protest that the vast majority of the people out in the streets are protesting peacefully. Uh, and you know, what the media tends to focus on is the, is the looting in the writing, but we need to understand that people are finding, uh, two, four for accountability. The minute that, uh, black and Brown folks are criminalized, it gives the green light for more force to be used. So I think there is an increasing narrative, uh, developing between blacks, Latinos, and whites, and increasingly multi-racial movement. That's recognizing the importance of police misconduct as a defining civil rights issue Speaker 7: 39:39 is this explosion of feeling that we're seeing now, perhaps a necessary part of the road to change. Do you see ways to bring about radical change without this violence? Speaker 12: 39:49 Well, I think, uh, protest, uh, is necessary. I don't, I don't agree with, um, with looting. But I understand and, and I want to make that very clear and, uh, think about what happened with officer Shovan initially. Um, the da stated that they didn't have enough evidence to file charges. Right? Uh, that day after that press conference, people went to the streets of Minneapolis, they protested and what happened the next day file charges were filed and he was arrested. So I think what, what people need to understand is that there is a structural racism in our criminal justice system and the law has lost its efficacy, its power for people to, uh, defer to it. And in moments like this, uh, I think protest is needed. Protests can lead to positive change and it can make for a fair criminal justice system. Speaker 7: 40:47 You, you've written about the collaboration between police and the clergy. Um, talk to us about what you feel is the effectiveness of that. Speaker 12: 40:56 Well, I think in situations like this, um, we need to turn to community leaders, uh, to, to provide guidance, to serve as a bridge between law enforcement, uh, and communities of color and black and Latino communities of color to try to, to build trust that can be useful. Uh, and I've seen that work in the past. This situation's a little different. I think we need community leaders, but until there's an acknowledgement that there will be accountability that's going to have limited effects, uh, I think people are going to continue to protest until they get some assurance that police misconduct will be punished. Officers will be punished in a way that's considered fair. And just, I would add that piece in addition to drawing on community members, whether it's clergy leaders, former gang members, nonprofits, they can all play an important role. I think we're looking at something historical right now and it's going to require more than just community leaders. It's going to require city and state government is structural racism in our criminal justice system. Speaker 7: 42:05 Law enforcement does continue to be sued for excessive force and they continue having to pay out. You know, why do you think it's so, so difficult? Is it because most of us deny being racist and just deny the problem altogether? Speaker 12: 42:19 Well, the problem is that our criminal justice system, uh, is developed in a way where there's very little input from community members. So for example, when we have, uh, judges or DA's and we have, uh, local elections, those elections are largely determined by suburban white voters. And the people that stand the most to lose are urban, uh, voters who are mostly black and Latino. So there's a disconnect, uh, in our political system. But also I would argue that for the most part, the way that police have developed, they are an autonomous institution that is insulated from public, uh, reform. It makes it very difficult, not only for reform, but to actually find out what's happening on the inside when there is a shooting, most of what happens behind the door is outside, uh, the view of, of irregular citizen. So I think there needs to be more transparency when officers, um, are accused of police misconduct. Speaker 7: 43:21 So what will it take to get that extra transparency that we need? Speaker 12: 43:24 The first thing is that, uh, we need to have a criminal justice system and a police department where there is more citizen. Uh, and we need to have laws at the state level that make sure, um, that when police commit misconduct, that they're not going to get a special treatment. So I think at the state level and at the federal level, there has to be some serious reform and there needs to be more of a place at the table for community residents, uh, to be involved in the investigation, uh, of, uh, policeman's conduct. Speaker 7: 44:01 I've been speaking with dr Sid Martinez, who is a professor of sociology at USD and whose newest work is about ways of building connections in the community to reduce violence. Dr. Martinez, thank you so much for joining us. Speaker 12: 44:14 Thank you for having me.

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San Diegans took to the streets this weekend to protest the in-custody Memorial Day death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. At times, the protests turned violent. Police fired tear gas and looters broke into stores. Meanwhile, three local elected officials are speaking out against violence and systemic racism. And a University of San Diego sociologist talks about what’s driving the current protests and what they have to do with COVID-19.