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LATEST UPDATES: Racial Justice | Tracking COVID-19 (coronavirus)

SDPD To Stop Using Carotid Restraint, SDSU And Black Community Groups Hosting Teaching, Healing Events, Claims Against Sheriff’s Deputies Costing County Millions, And A Border Agent Becomes Activist

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The president of the San Diego police union responds addresses law enforcement handling of local protests and the news that SDPD will immediately stop using carotid restraints as a use-of-force procedure. Also, San Diego State and members of the black community are hosting events so that people can find solidarity and heal. Plus, San Diego County has paid millions of dollars to settle lawsuits over misconduct by sheriff’s deputies and many of the suits make the same allegations. And, a former San Diego Border Patrol agent says as one of the only female officers back in the 90s and early 2000s she experienced discrimination and abuse. She shares her story. Finally, the coronavirus pandemic has forced many San Diego arts organizations to cancel performances. That includes the San Diego Ballet which was set to open its production of the 19th-century ballet, Giselle, last weekend.

Speaker 1: 00:01 Police practices are already starting to change in San Diego and black community groups find ways to heal. It don't involve marching in the streets. I'm Alison st. John with Maureen kavanah. This is KPBS midday edition.

Speaker 2: 00:24 Today is Tuesday, June 2nd. Demonstrations condemning the killing of George Floyd and against police violence continued last night and said

Speaker 1: 00:38 several hundred people marched from bell, Bella park, too

Speaker 2: 00:40 Hillcrest. And another group gathered in front of San Diego police headquarters. Downtown. The protests and rallies were peaceful. That's in contrast to demonstrations in other cities and here in San Diego last weekend, when riding broke out after peaceful protests in Lamesa and downtown San Diego, local law enforcement is caught up in the center of these protests. They are deployed to maintain order all the while being at the heart of the issue. That's brought people out on the streets in the first place. It's a complicated spot to be in today. We hear from the president of the San Diego police officer's association, detective Jack Shaffer, and detective Shaffer. Welcome to the program. Thank you very much. Now I want to start with a change to police policy announced yesterday by mayor Faulkner and police chief in his light. They said that San Diego police will no longer use the carotid hold to control suspects. That's of course, a neck hold that can render a person unconscious what's the police officer's association stand on that.

Speaker 3: 01:43 Well, I mean, I think that the carotid restraint, um, when used effectively, um, is, uh, is a great tool for the officers, um, often, um, allowing a smaller officer to control the situation from a larger suspect, for instance. Um, but again, if it's applied correctly and I think that, um, over the past, I think they did a study of the last 22 or 23 years. You know, we've used it several times, um, with no fatalities and, um, anytime that I've ever seen it used or used it myself, the individuals who it was used on, um, had no, no serious injuries, um, and probably deescalated the situation situation quite a bit. Um, that said definitely, um, the, the, uh, chief has to make tough decisions and run the department. Um, and, um, our officers are going to be able to, um, adapt and overcome just like they've done with all the changes. Um, I know that I feel confident that we'll continue to be able to do a good job, and hopefully we'll be able to find something, some tool that can take the place of the carotid restraint. Um, since we can't use that now

Speaker 2: 02:47 the mayor and the chief made the argument that since this hold is particularly hated in communities where it's used frequently, that should be a valid reason to stop it. Do you agree with that?

Speaker 3: 02:58 I don't know if I agree with that.

Speaker 2: 03:00 Totally. Um, it's it's, I think it's misunderstood. Like I said, we're, we're going to support the chief I'm, we're going to support our officers. And, and I know that our officers are going to be able to, to, um, figure out a way to still diffuse situations by using other techniques. Now, the demonstrations here and around the country have been sparked by the video of a police officer in Minnesota kneeling for more than eight minutes on the neck of a black man, that man George Floyd cried out that he couldn't breathe and subsequently died as a police officer. What was your reaction to that video?

Speaker 3: 03:34 Well, I mean, I was sickened by what I did see. Um, it doesn't look like anything I was ever trained to do at least, and especially the, uh, the amount of time I obviously wasn't there. Um, it didn't see everything, but, um, it was, it was sickening to watch. And, uh, I definitely see why there is an outrage. This is pretty unique in that, in that it, uh, enlisted a response from almost everybody, because I don't think anybody could watch that without feeling something for mr. Floyd

Speaker 2: 04:04 and the officer involved Derek Shovan has been charged with murder. What do you think about the other offices on the scenes? Should they be charged as well?

Speaker 3: 04:12 So I, um, what I watched, I didn't see a whole lot of, of their involvement. So, um, you know, the, the, uh, I'm sure the investigation over there is ongoing. I mostly, you know, obviously paid attention to the, the short video clips that I saw with the one officer. So obviously I wasn't there and I didn't see, I haven't even seen the video really with a lot of, um, their participation. So I, I don't know, I'm not probably not the right person to ask on that one.

Speaker 2: 04:37 Well, let me talk about the demonstrations here in San Diego, as you must know, there has been criticism of the response by police to the protest, at least some criticism. Do you think specifically that deploying tear gas and rubber bullets to a largely peaceful crowd downtown may have been an overreaction?

Speaker 3: 04:55 Well, I think, um, you know, there's a lot to look at with this. Um, it's unfortunate that some people, um, didn't listen to the, like an unlawful assembly and the, um, and the orders to leave, um, that came out because they, they were given plenty of time to, to move to another location. Um, when there's things going on, there has to be something done when, you know, when our officers get things thrown at them. I mean, we've had officers have, uh, bricks, rocks, bottles thrown at them that they're vulnerable because they're standing there on a post. Um, so we have to do something to back people off, you know, for the most part, I mean, your, your, uh, chemical agents are just irritants that, uh, are going to make people feel uncomfortable. And a lot of times get people to back away from whatever they're trying to do. So there's that there's a balance. And, and there's always going to be some people that are critical of it, but there, I don't know that there is a technique that can be used that would make everybody happy. I think that by doing some of these things, we prevent a lot of people from being injured.

Speaker 2: 05:54 Yeah. KPBS had four reporters downtown on Sunday. None of them reported seeing rocks being thrown a police officers, but even if there were some rocks and water bottles thrown at police, they have shields and face guards to protect them. Some protesters were seen bleeding from being hit with rubber bullets. So I think just as somebody observing this, can you explain why police seem deemed necessary to use those methods to disperse a crowd?

Speaker 3: 06:19 If this is what tends to happen in big crowds? Like this is that the, um, the people who are there to, to disrupt and to, um, cause violence and things like that. They're generally going to hide behind the people who aren't and they're going to lob their, love, their rocks and do all the things that they do from those positions. Um, kind of having a little human shield in front of them. There has to be a way to protect people, to get people to back off, to listen, to orders, to do things like that, that are, that are meant to keep people safe. And, um, I don't know, um, I don't know much about the whole, uh, the rubber bullets and stuff, but I do know that the chemical agents seem to be an effective way to get people to, um, disperse, you know, we can't just leave our officers there to be targets, um, for, you know, whatever kind of weapon is thrown at them.

Speaker 3: 07:06 So they're there, there's a fine line of balance, but just because somebody doesn't see one or two or three or five people in a crowd of a thousand, I mean, that's likely, but, um, you know, you can, you can throw a rock that can do a whole lot of damage or a brick that could do a whole lot of damage from pretty far away. So it was happening. I mean, I mean, we even had, um, you know, police officers break lines cut and things like that. So there's, there's people doing certain things. We have to make sure that they're, there is some order

Speaker 2: 07:33 in addition to the ban announced on the use of the carotid restraint mayor Faulkner has given his support to a proposed November ballot measure that would create an independent community led commission on police practices with investigative and subpoena powers. What is the police unions position on that?

Speaker 3: 07:53 Uh, well, we haven't been in, been in opposition of that. We've actually worked closely with, um, with many people to try to just, um, make sure that it's, it's, uh, it's done reasonably and that it can actually be effective. And, and, uh,

Speaker 2: 08:04 are you still negotiating with the city to see how this commission on police practices rolls out?

Speaker 3: 08:10 We've okayed it to go to the ballot? I mean, we're, we're not, we're not, um, in opposition at all. Um, so it's, it's going to the ballot. The citizens will make their decision on whether they want it to change or not. And then, um, and then we'll go forward from there. So I dunno what, what necessarily the, all the next steps would be. Um, but we're okay with it go into the ballot and let that lead into voters, make the decisions,

Speaker 2: 08:32 detective Shaffer, as you know, the main issues people are protesting are police violence against black people. And the lack of police accountability. Are you concerned when you look at the totality of what's been going on that the police response to recent protests could make matters worse.

Speaker 3: 08:49 Um, and that that's always a concern. I mean, you, you hope that the tactics that are used, um, are effective. Um, sometimes they're not, I mean, one, one tactic w used in one location might not be as effective in the next location, so that that's always a concern and whatever our cops are there on the front lines, um, you know, it's, it's, it's, uh, there's a, there's a lot of things to be concerned about, but, um, so we have to, you know, we have to, to, uh, protect everybody in the, in the community. So, um, yeah, I mean, there's, there's always a lot of concerns. I, I, uh, I don't know how like, uh, chief Nez light does all that he does because they're there you're pretty much going to be, you know, you can, you can be right to a large group of people, but wrong to, uh, an equal amount of people with the same decision.

Speaker 1: 09:37 I've been speaking with the detective Jack Shaffer, he's president of the San Diego police officer's association, detective Schaffer. Thank you very much.

Speaker 3: 09:44 Well, thank you and have a, have a good morning.

Speaker 1: 09:46 You're listening to KPBS Monday edition. I'm Alison st. John with Maureen Kavanaugh, as people try to deal with the pain and anger are triggered by the death of George Floyd. Some are out protesting, others are acting out with violence and some are turning to each other to share feelings and find solidarity. San Diego state university has organized what they're calling community circles and a community wide teaching later this week, joining us to talk about their plans is Luke wood, who is vice president for student affairs and campus diversity. Thanks for being with us, Luke, thank you for having me. So why did you decide to set up these community, sir?

Speaker 4: 10:21 Well, what we did is after the events had occurred, we recognized the effect that it was having on our community. So we came together with our leaders across multiple divisions and our faculty leaders. And we talked about what were some ways that we could respond. So it was really a group of response to this. And so we decided to do, as you mentioned, healing circles, um, five different healing circles that are taking place. We had two of them yesterday and three of them today, um, that really focused on bringing people together to talk about how they're experiencing this current moment and what we can do as a community to better improve our society, especially as it relates to, um, violence against black peoples. How did the circles go so far? So far? They have went well. Um, they are incredibly emotional. Uh, there is a lot of emotion for those, but critically who are black identified. Um, you know, these instances bring up issues of, you know, violence and trauma that they've experienced at the hands of, um, some law enforcement as well as other individuals. And so for many of them, uh, events like these force people to relive very difficult times in their lives for those who aren't black identified. I think it's, it's also emotional because there's a desire to want to support and to help others and to positively contribute to what's going on without necessarily understanding of what that looks like.

Speaker 1: 11:47 Are these virtual meetings, Luke or in physical meetings,

Speaker 4: 11:51 these are virtual meetings, the challenges of COVID-19. However, they have been well attended. The first one that we had yesterday was 63 people. The second one was 129 people. And we're expecting that there'll be many more across the ones that we're having today. How much do you think the feelings are compounded by this distance that we're having to create due to COVID-19? Oh, I, I certainly think that the feelings are compounded because people are already stressed. You know, people are, are living in and working in, studying in houses where, or apartments where there's multiple people. There's the pressure of COVID that's certainly on top of this, there is of course, uh, concerns about people's health and wellbeing in general, and then add on racial crises that have been continuous and ongoing, and it certainly amplified the situation. And, and I think that's why we've seen so many people take to the streets to protest the violence.

Speaker 4: 12:52 I certainly believe that many of them are protesting the George Floyd incident, as well as the multiple other incidents that have occurred, but they, I think they're also protesting general dissatisfaction and discontent that they have being able to express feelings is, is very helpful. You also talked about solutions. What are some of the solutions perhaps that are emerging from your circles? So the first solution is really the, the fact that we, as an educational institution, we have an obligation to ensure that we're providing the best space possible for our students. And so we're hosting a teaching on Thursday at 10:00 AM, where we have faculty members from our college of education and college of sciences who are coming together to talk about how we can best support and teach our black identified students in times of crises, such as these, of course, part of our response is the healing circles, which is being led by a NOLA Butler bird and our faculty in counseling and school psychology, as well as our faculty and counseling and psychological services.

Speaker 4: 13:56 But the other action that we're doing that I'm particularly proud of our institution for is we are hosting a emergency Senate meeting this Thursday, where there is a resolution that is coming forward that will change the ways that we prepare those who are entering law enforcement from SDSU. So what's happening is that we have, uh, worked tirelessly with our faculty in our school of public affairs and an Africana studies, and to basically bring forth the resolution that will require each student who goes through a program in criminal justice at SDSU to have a, at least one class that focuses on race relations and criminal justice. There's already one class that we have offered, um, that we have identified will be part of the resolution, but the faculty in our criminal justice are also identifying other classes that might meet this, this requirement. And so I think it's an example of positive leadership and how we can contribute to ensuring that there's a better future by ensuring that those who are entering law enforcement that might come from SDSU are being best prepared to engage the racial dynamics between black peoples and law enforcement.

Speaker 1: 15:14 Thanks so much for bringing us up to date on STS use plans for how to tackle this situation. Appreciate it. Thank you. We've been speaking with Luke word, vice president for student affairs and campus diversity at San Diego state university. Another event is focusing on healing tonight, organized by a number of groups advocating for San Diego's black community. Joining us now are Derek Kelly Hodges also known as Kelly or blue, who is creator of social workers, Derek. Thanks for being with us. Thank you so much. And also Calcio Daniel's founder of black women saved my life and an organizer with black lives matter. San Diego, Kelsey. Thanks.

Speaker 5: 15:51 Hi, so great to be here. Thank you.

Speaker 1: 15:53 Great. So Kaleel, the idea for today's event came out of a series of talks that your group held. Why do you think a sit in tonight is read is needed right now?

Speaker 6: 16:03 I think there's a lot going on, um, in our world and in our community that is impacting our health and wellness right now. Um, a lot of us are fighting to survive, dealing with anxiety, depression, and an extreme amount of grief. And there isn't any community space or institution that is intentionally built to hold or process that pain for our people right now. And I think that it's necessary for us to build a space so we can safely process and think and feel out loud and be honest so that we can move through the pain and, and get to a place of, of solution and healing, and also not be called, um, left unattended and neglected and in services that have no capacity to support what it is that we're dealing with right now.

Speaker 1: 16:51 Mm. Think could feel out loud. Yes. Kelsey, you say that that healing is a form of resistance. Talk more about that.

Speaker 5: 16:57 I think, um, it's really important for us to honor all the different ways that people can show up. I think that sometimes there's a narrative of do something or not do something, and we understand that it's more of a spectrum and that all of those ways are valid. And one of the ways that is really valid is centering our feelings. We talk a lot about how white supremacy is enacted in one of those ways. It's forcing us to exist in silos and in shame. And so the idea of collectively coming together to talk about our code is an act of resistance. It's radical self care and the words that Audrey Lord. And so I think it's really important to, uh, to create that conversation, facilitate that conversation as, uh, organizers and community activists. That feeling is important.

Speaker 1: 17:46 Talk to me, Kelsey, a bit more about the emotional impact of experiencing and witnessing racial bias and police brutality and how that affects people's overall wellbeing

Speaker 5: 17:57 what's happening right now is not a singular incident, right? I liked him being black in America to also experience this, experiencing this perpetual grief, right? It's an ongoing grief that's compounded. Um, and there is this inclination to stay sane sometimes of operating an outrage or operating with attachment. And what we wanted to do is to kind of honor that all of those things are real and also another option is to feel it and move through it and community. And that's the real big thing because racialized trauma is so present. It's something that we can't escape, unfortunately. And while we work to dismantle that and create a world in which we do not have to experience it, it's so important to take care of ourselves,

Speaker 1: 18:46 right. I can see how there might be an issue with taking action and joining protests where you might get associated with more violent reactions. Is that a, an issue for you?

Speaker 5: 18:56 So I would say one of the things that we are very clear on is we do not tell black people who are in grief in Roche, how to feel or move. That is not our place. We understand that blackness is not a monolith and as many different black people there are in this country on this planet, there are going to be so many different ways in which people are going to move through this. Um, and our space is about creating an intentional opportunity that does not take away. It isn't adding, um, to however else people choose to move.

Speaker 1: 19:29 So Kelly will walk us through what's going to happen tonight and how people can get more information about it.

Speaker 6: 19:35 Our information is available online at the sit in San Diego, on Facebook and the sit in SD on Instagram. Um, the information about how to connect with us as available there. And we are going to gather, and we're going to hold space for our people. We're going to do what we do to heal. We're going to gather in song, we're going to gather, in honest dialogue, we're going to learn tools for healing. Um, and we're going to, we're gonna hold space. Um, because as we were saying earlier, we definitely believe that black people making the choice to sit together and heal out loud is a form of protest, um, and a necessary one right now in the midst of all of the other ways that we are moving through this tragedy.

Speaker 1: 20:18 Well thank you for sharing your experience of these times. Uh, Derek Kaleel Hodges. Thank you. Thank you. And Kelsey. Oh, Daniels. Thank you so much for joining us. Thank you too. Mistakes and alleged abuse of power by San Diego County. Sheriff's deputies have already cost taxpayers almost $2 million this year as reported by the San Diego union Tribune County

Speaker 2: 20:48 supervisors have paid out settlements to claims ranging from excessive force to unlawful arrest, to being injured in San Diego County jail. And the lawsuits keep coming. 15 of them filed in the last year. Many of the claims who reportedly contain the same types of allegations against the Sheriff's department. Johnny me is Jeff McDonald, investigative reporter at the San Diego union Tribune. Jeff, welcome to the program.

Speaker 7: 21:13 Hello, good morning.

Speaker 2: 21:15 Now you've examined some of the claims being made by people who have sued the County. And you say many of the same kind of offenses are being alleged in these lawsuits. What are they?

Speaker 7: 21:26 Well, the most common ones are excessive force negligence and civil rights violations. They come in different forms. These are people that the Sheriff's deputies respond to. And in many cases, the deputies assume they're under the influence of drugs or alcohol rather than having medical conditions. That's a, that's a prevalent one. Uh, in other cases, they're inmates who have suffered injuries in jail due to, uh, lapses in medical care.

Speaker 2: 21:52 And don't many of the lawsuits themselves reference lawsuits about the same kinds of complaints before. So in other words, this has been going on for a while.

Speaker 7: 22:01 Yes. I think the lawyers have gotten the defense. The plaintiff's lawyers have gotten wise to this and several of the lawsuits I reviewed, um, last month in preparation for this story have a whole litany of higher claims against the department, which have been, uh, either settled or, uh, litigated in favor of the plaintiffs. So other lawyers use those as an example of, uh, to establish a pattern within the Sheriff's department.

Speaker 2: 22:26 Tell us about one of these lawsuits. The lawsuit filed by William Carr, for example,

Speaker 7: 22:32 you as an African American guy and he's okay. He was a diabetic and he suffered from low blood sugar, uh, on a Sunday in church, uh, up in Encinitas. Uh, and this was in 2018, I believe. And you went to a diner right after church with some friends and before the food came, he passed out. He slumped down in his chair and, and of course his friends called nine one one. And, and, uh, rather than paramedics, the deputies showed up and they didn't, uh, they didn't realize that he was suffering a health emergency and instead they, uh, they handcuffed him and, and according to the lawsuit, they dragged him out of the diner and into the street and put them on the curb. And, uh, when the paramedics got there, they, uh, ascertained what was wrong. They gave him some dextrose to boost his, uh, blood sugar level and he started to revive, uh, nonetheless, they took him to the hospital where he received, um, subsequent treatment. I thought it was interesting that the Sheriff's department insisted that the handcuffs remain on, uh, mr. Car, during the length of the ambulance ride

Speaker 2: 23:44 and a federal civil

Speaker 7: 23:46 lawsuit. That's still pending. Yes. That one is still pending. It was filed quite recently. Uh, I forget when I think late last year

Speaker 2: 23:54 now, over recent years, how much has the County paid out in settlements and judgements against the Sheriff's department?

Speaker 7: 24:02 Well, at least $10 million. And it's a, it's significant because the County chooses to self-insure. So this is money that comes straight out of the general fund or other budgets within the County government. Uh, it's not paid by insurance, uh, which is the money that could otherwise go to services or more, more, more roads or firefighters or streets or Sheriff's deputies.

Speaker 2: 24:26 Now, one of the largest judgments was awarded to a North County welder named David Collins. What happened to him?

Speaker 7: 24:33 Similar thing. He, uh, had a health issue. Uh, he stumbled out of his house. Uh, he lost, uh, he had a, uh, a sodium deficiency, which made him appear to, uh, uh, slur his words and appear unsteady. And he had hallucinations. Uh, he left his house and a neighbor pastored by saw his condition called the, uh, nine one one, uh, in that case, paramedics showed up and they were in the course of evaluating him when deputies also showed up. And they said to the paramedics, no, no, we got this. And they took him to jail instead of a hospital. Uh, he fell in jail and suffered a, what was called a brain bleed. Uh, and now he's permanently, uh, impaired, uh, the County litigated that, and, uh, they passed up a settlement. They could have settled it for a $3 million was an offer. They said, no, thanks.

Speaker 7: 25:29 Uh, their position was that he had been drinking and the deputies didn't do anything wrong. And so they went to court and the jury last summer returned a verdict of 12 and a half million dollars. Now that's still being litigated the County. Doesn't just write a check when that happens. Uh, the judge cut that amount in half for various legal reasons. That six point $5 million, 6.4 million, I think it is, is still being litigated and, and further hearings and, uh, and arguments are being made in court. So it'll probably be some months before mr. Colin sees any of the County money.

Speaker 2: 26:04 Now, the San Diego County Sheriff's department has a wide range of responsibilities and the County itself, as they say has deep pockets. So is it possible that the department is just a good tar target for these kinds of lawsuits?

Speaker 7: 26:18 Yes. Every government agency is a good target and a lot of businesses for that matter as well, because most of them do have insurance for slip and fall cases and things like that. Uh, the Sheriff's department does a lot of services. They run jails, they patrol the streets, they man, the courts. Uh, so a lot of things can go wrong. It's, uh, it's, you know, obviously a very complicated, uh, system with a, with a lot of, uh, a lot of interests. Uh, the thing that troubles me is a lot of these allegations are repeat allegations and the settlements keep piling up. So I think that's of note to taxpayers who might be concerned about how their resources are being expended.

Speaker 2: 27:00 I've been speaking with Jeff McDonald, he's investigative reporter at the San Diego union Tribune. Jeff, thank you very much.

Speaker 7: 27:08 You bet. Thank you.

Speaker 2: 27:10 This is KPBS mid day edition. I'm boring Kavanaugh. When she joined United States customs and border protection, she was looking for a feeling of belonging. She never felt from her family. Jen, bud thought she'd build tight relationships while training and serving alongside fellow border patrol agents. But instead bud says as one of the only female officers back in the nineties and early two thousands, she experienced discrimination and abuse in a new episode of KPBS border podcast. Only here host Alan Lowenthal talks to bud about her experience as a border patrol agents in San Diego for six years,

Speaker 8: 27:54 [inaudible]

Speaker 9: 27:55 Campo is one of those places you'll just completely miss. If you blink while driving through it, the closest legal border crossing, isn't the gut, the tiny Mexican town, where they make the beer and the terrain around there is very rough and very rugged. There are long stretches where the Hills are so steep. There's just no way to build a fence. So people look for these gaps in the fence and cross, and that's where border patrol comes in. Agents patrol everything from dry deserts to mountains, as tall as 6,500 feet. A lot of the patrol areas only accessible by four wheel drive vehicles, ATVs, or by experienced hikers.

Speaker 8: 28:40 [inaudible]

Speaker 9: 28:41 Jen loved that her job let her get outside. Most days she really liked hiking around some days she would hike for hours without seeing another human

Speaker 8: 28:53 [inaudible].

Speaker 9: 28:53 But back at the station with her male coworkers, she says the harassment and discrimination were bad, so bad. She says she wasn't even issued a Bulletproof vest.

Speaker 10: 29:04 There were only like 50 agents there when I got there and there were two other women assigned there, but I was the only woman there for a long time, because they were always away on detail. So I was the only woman. They didn't give me a vest for like a year. Cause they said

Speaker 9: 29:21 they couldn't get a female vest up there in the mountains. But just like when she was a kid dealing with abuse, she charges ahead full force and just kept her head buried in her work. But she says the harassment just wouldn't stop.

Speaker 10: 29:36 So yeah, my very first training officer, when he evaluated me, he wrote down that he did not recommend me for retention. So he thinks they should fire me on my boards and the reason why, and I never forgot the quote was her facial expressions. Give me the impression she does not like me. So that's why I was supposed to be fired. Cause I have bitch face, you know? Yeah. So, and I'm like, I didn't and hidden. The supervisor brought me in and said, so what do you think of this? And I said, why is it my job to smile at him and make him feel good about himself? I said, I'm not supposed to be their cheerleader. I'm not your cheerleader. And he said, well, maybe you have to be to be able to keep the job.

Speaker 9: 30:27 Jen wanted to keep the job. So she kept showing up to work, doing her job as best she could.

Speaker 10: 30:34 They would tell me just to answer the phones at the station kind of thing. So I ended up waiting for them to leave. And then I'd just hike out to the border on my own and walk around on foot and stuff. A lot of times where I just didn't get any backup, you know, things like that. So he stuck it out in part because you didn't want them to win or was that part of it or really in all honesty, it's like, cause the abuse that I had when I was a kid was pretty violent and I just, I was just kind of used to that stuff.

Speaker 9: 31:10 One winter in Campo, Jen says her supervisor center on a field assignment. She says, he told her to look into a suspected drug smuggling, route. The supervisor put both her and the only black border patrol agent who worked at the station on the task. But the minute the two got out to the fence, they realized they hadn't been properly equipped or prepared for the job.

Speaker 10: 31:34 So we had to go land the snow for like 13 hours at a time waiting for drug smugglers. And remember, I don't have a vest. I remember he crawled up to me one night and trying to stay warm because we're trainees. We don't have all the gear we're supposed to have cause we can't afford it. And so we're just laying there and he's spooning me and, and we're listening for anything we can, you know, coming through the brush and he says, they're trying to kill us. I said, come on. And he goes, think of that. It I'm the only black guy. You're the only woman they're trying to kill us, but we both made it.

Speaker 9: 32:21 So the reason Jen got into border patrol was to catch bad guys. And yeah, she did get to do some of that. But then there was this,

Speaker 10: 32:32 my first apprehension was a family, you know, the grandparents and the mom and dad teenage and a baby. And I remember thinking, where were the, where are the drugs? You know, I'm like searching their clothes and everything like

Speaker 10: 32:51 in detail trying to find these drugs cause they're supposed to be smuggling drugs. Right? So, and you know, especially in Campo because when you apprehend somebody out there in the mountains, you're tracking them through the mountains and it sometimes takes transport hours to get to you. Or it takes you hours to hike them back out to a road. You start to learn a lot about them and you start to listen to their stories and, and talk to them more and spent in practice your Spanish and, and so forth. And so then I started to understand more of what this was all about, that the policies were more about keeping certain people out and not others. Cause I remember one night I, I had tracked this group through Takati and I was up North of highway 94 on a mountain top when I found them and took a couple of hours for the transport to get out there. And one young man that was in the group spoke English perfectly. And so we were talking and while we waited and

Speaker 10: 33:58 he had a law degree and I was like, what are you doing? Crossing, you know? And he goes, you just don't get it. Do you, and I go get what? And he said, have you been to Mexico? And I'm like, no. And I mean, even if I had, I don't know that, you know, I just go down to TJ. It's not like I would learn all about what's going on in Mexico kind of thing. But in talking to him and you know, he was like, do you do, does the border patrol treat Canadians like this? And I'm like, no, they don't. And he said, well, why do you think that is? And, and the only answer I could come up with was because the majority of Canadians are probably white and more educated than the majority of Mexicans coming across. Then you start seeing how the government's okay with businesses, hiring undocumented workers and abusing them. And then when the businesses are done with them, they just call the border patrol to come and get them. And so then they don't have to, you know,

Speaker 8: 35:04 Mmm.

Speaker 10: 35:04 Pay for anything if they're injured or all. So it's just like this system that's built for business and stuff like that. So that moment talking to the guy, the lawyer who was crossing the border illegally, did that signify a change in your thinking at that? I mean, I think there were a lot of different changes, but then I think there's also that self preservation going on of needing a job and staying in it. Like a lot of agents still do today.

Speaker 11: 35:37 [inaudible]

Speaker 9: 35:40 self-preservation dedication, the discomfort of change, whatever it was. Jen's heels were dug in deep. She eventually worked her way up to being a senior officer. And before she knew it, six years had flown by

Speaker 11: 36:01 [inaudible].

Speaker 9: 36:01 But eventually there was just too much dissonance between her sense of justice and what was right. And the actual reality she was living day to day.

Speaker 10: 36:10 I said, you know, I don't even believe in what we do anymore. I don't like, I didn't believe in what we were doing, spending all this time, all this manpower, all his money, arresting people who are looking for jobs. And then when it comes down to the people who are smuggling the drugs or the people who are smuggling, the people in, we never do anything. We never bring him to trial. We just grabbed the drugs or grabbed the people in the cars and, and, you know, voluntarily returned. The people sees the drugs, sees the cars once in a while, we'd send somebody to jail, but that was about it. I said, you know, I don't, I don't believe in the system anymore. And when I do try and do good, that's the only reason why it take these details is to be able to get the drug smugglers, to be able to get, you know, people smuggling girls in or whatever, to try and make a difference in the, even when I do, they don't do anything about it. So I don't know what I'm doing here and I'm going to die out there for nothing.

Speaker 11: 37:14 Yeah.

Speaker 9: 37:16 So in 2001, after six years working for border patrol, she quit.

Speaker 12: 37:21 No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no.

Speaker 9: 37:24 But leaving border patrol didn't make Jen feel good. She says it made her more sad than anything.

Speaker 10: 37:31 When I left, I, I didn't leave cause I wanted to leave. I left because I felt like I had to leave. It was just, it was so devastating to have seen myself as this one type of person, this liberal, uh, civil rights minded person. And then to realize that I had joined an agency like this and had been able to just look past enforcing racist policies because of my own self interest of maintaining the job. You know, I mean, it took for all the things I put up with in the agency and, and trying to do the right thing and constantly trying to prove myself. I mean, it felt, it felt so similar to like losing my family and my family. And I said, you know, I would like to be able to sit here and say I left because I believe in the rights of migrants and the things that I see today, but I didn't come to that realization until many years later.

Speaker 2: 38:57 And that was former border patrol agent, Jen, bud, who, since leaving the agency has become a vocal critic of us customs and border protection and U S immigration policies and response to Bud's accusations, U S customs and border patrol released a statement saying in part as public service, the border patrol holds itself to the highest ethical standards to hear this full episode of only here search for the show, wherever you listen to podcasts or listen online at kpbs.org/only here

Speaker 1: 39:38 in the 19th century, by the Zelle and other worldly group of women takes their revenge on men. The San Diego ballet, Stephanie male was set to perform as chisel last weekend, but instead spent the quarantine away from the stage KPBS arts editor and producer, Julia Dixon, Evan spokes spoke with mayor Bronto about dancing during the pandemic,

Speaker 13: 40:00 imagine a world where scorned or anguished women exist together in harmony free of men save only for when they gang up on one to haunt him. That's right. These women known in folklore and myth as the willies are the ghosts of young women who died before they were wed or were betrayed by their lovers, these unearthly willies and their appearance in Victor Hugo's Phantoms poem inspired out-of-date Adams, 19th century ballet chisel, which the San Diego ballet was set to open on Saturday. Just all of us born with a weak heart. And when Albrecht her true love betrays her, it turns out he's actually a Duke masquerading as a peasant boy, the heartbreak is too much and to cell dies, she doesn't just stay first. She famously goes mad and that's just the end of the first act. Stephanie, Mirano a dancer with the San Diego ballet has been waiting to dance the madness scene for a long time.

Speaker 14: 40:56 And I've actually been kind of working on that in my room since I was like 15,

Speaker 13: 41:00 originally steeped in the tails European origins, the San Diego ballets artistic director, heavier Velazco has transformed the story, setting it in Spanish, colonial San Diego, but then the pandemic hit.

Speaker 14: 41:13 I'm actually doing less ballet, less dancing than I have in my entire life.

Speaker 13: 41:18 Mirena is able to stay strong, doing Pilates Barre work and whatever other home-based training she can do without a studio's impact resistant Marley floor. But the mental impact is harder to handle

Speaker 14: 41:30 because I just I've always been a ballet dancer. I started when I was three, I trained extensively. Once I hit 11, it was just every single day I was at the studio and it's been like that until COVID happens. And I'm 33 now. So it's, it's really been my whole life. And this has kind of turned my life upside down.

Speaker 13: 41:50 Mirano we'll have to wait even longer to tell Giselle's origin story. The San Diego ballet is full production of [inaudible] has been rescheduled for next may for a dancer whose career means showing up to a studio each day, rehearsing teaching and taking classes. Arena is in a holding pattern. She's teaching youth ballet classes online, but mourns the loss of true interaction and the ability to really see and correct the dancers movements, but it adds structure and practice to her day

Speaker 14: 42:19 from nine until four of just teaching and doing PA's and Tanya's, and [inaudible] over and over and over again. And when it's all done, I sit on the couch, I plan my zoom meetings, send out the emails the next day. I feel like I've become very like work-focused. Now that I'm just stuck inside.

Speaker 13: 42:40 She has dabbled with taking classes online herself and appreciates that she can study with dancers across the globe. She wouldn't otherwise be able to study with, but it's not the same as an in person in studio practice. And my rhinos also contending with being a ballet dancer without a stage in Jazelle, when the willies take the stage and the second act, it's a riot of hauntings, but the story is one of forgiveness interpreted as your Ronas and Velasquez production. The ghosts are as beautiful as they are vengeful. When Albrecht finally finds his way back to Jyzelle the willies want him to suffer using Jazella as a lore, but GSL begs for mercy from the ghosts and a powerful scene unfolds between the betrayer and betrayed as Jyzelle and Alvin

Speaker 15: 43:26 Cheryl dance.

Speaker 13: 43:31 After three months of warranty and being limited by what practice was safe to do on the floor at home, my arena was able to sneak into a studio and instantly felt like herself. Again,

Speaker 14: 43:41 I can't tell you how, how relieved I was to see Marley floor and the big mirrors and my bar

Speaker 13: 43:49 when she danced again, she realized that after three decades of dancing, her body could weather the storm. I'm Julia Dixon, Evans, KPBS news.

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KPBS Midday Edition

KPBS Midday Edition is a daily talk show hosted by Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon, keeping San Diegans in the know on everything from politics to the arts.