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KPBS Midday Edition Special: San Diego Reacts To The Chauvin Trial Verdict

Cover image for podcast episode

PHOTO BY MATTHEW BOWLER

Above: A crowd rallied in support of the guilty verdict in the George Floyd murder trial in Downtown San Diego. April 20, 2021.

San Diego's community leaders react to what many see as a turning point for equality following guilty verdicts for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd.

Speaker 1: 00:00 Local reaction after a guilty verdict in Derek Chauvin's trial,

Speaker 2: 00:05 It's going to be a long fight and it's people have to get ready for that. Unfortunately,

Speaker 1: 00:10 I'm Jade Heintzman with Maureen Kavanaugh. This is KPBS midday edition. As the nation reflects on the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer questions over the handling of local cases begin to surface.

Speaker 3: 00:34 We are very grateful that you know, this officer is found guilty for murdering Mr. Ploy. This is just the beginning and we still have a lot of work to do.

Speaker 1: 00:42 And the conversation continues on where police reform and the country goes from here. That's ahead on midday edition today on midday edition, we are devoting the entire hour to reaction and reflection on the decision by a Minneapolis jury to find former police officer Derek Shovan guilty of murdering George Floyd nearly a year ago. Floyd's murder sparked a racial reckoning in this country. As the world looked at how this case unfolded last night, people marched through downtown San Diego in support of the verdict. One person banked a drum, others carrying signs with messages, such as let them breathe and black lives matter as well as I see you, I hear you. I value you any Rayez identifies as Afro Latina and is a PhD candidate. She shares her reaction to the guilty verdict and why she joined last night's March.

Speaker 2: 01:45 This was accountability. It is not justice. We are demanding that the system itself needs to be changed. We need systemic change within the justice system, within the policing. And I'm here for that. I am here to continue this fight because this is just the beginning.

Speaker 1: 02:03 We'll hear from other marchers through the hour. But first earlier today, midday edition producer, Brooke Ruth spoke with San Diego mayor, Todd, Gloria. She started by asking how George Floyd's murder and the guilty verdict against former police officer Shelvin has changed him personally and as a politician.

Speaker 3: 02:21 Well, I think it highlights in probably the most extreme way, the need for reform, um, the need for accountability and the need to do better. And what happens when we fail to do that. And this is why since the first day of my administration, we've been working on this issue. And earlier this month, we released a series of recommended performs that we'll be pursuing in San Diego because we hear the crash from the community for change. We see instances like toward Floyd, Brianna Taylor, Stephon Clark, Tamir, rice, so many more names, and we can even list this morning and so work has to be done. Um, I just think that, uh, yesterday's verdict is a reminder, um, that, uh, this work has to be done. Um, and that efforts like the proposals I put forward earlier this month need to get implemented and then they need to have oversight and there needs to be accountability for when proposals like the ones I'm suggesting are not adhering to.

Speaker 4: 03:19 Uh, speaking of those reforms that you proposed, what's the timeline for those reforms?

Speaker 3: 03:26 Some will get done very swiftly. Uh, some will take a bit more time, uh, among the ones that I think, uh, you'll see accomplished relatively quickly, as I believe we'll soon be announcing an end to gang injunctions in the city of San Diego. In my proposed budget, we recommend moving, uh, the office of Homeland security out of the police department. Uh, we also, uh, fund the voter approved, uh, commission on police practices. Um, so some of those things will be accomplished in the very short term things like developing policies to reduce pretextual stops and, uh, consent searches, uh, will take some time, but I'm committed to doing that work. And importantly, I'm grateful to have the partnership of council member Montgomery step, as well as chief Ms. Light in this effort. This isn't just about me saying I'd like to see this. Uh, we have folks on the council in law enforcement, in the community, all saying these are priorities. Uh, and so my hope is that while those might take a bit longer, uh, that it won't take years, uh, we're talking about months,

Speaker 4: 04:28 How do you see Derek Shovan being held accountable for murdering George Floyd, influencing how we hold our own law enforcement officers accountable here in San Diego?

Speaker 3: 04:39 I think that we recognize that many officers who are involved in shootings that many of us object to aren't held accountable. And to the extent that we now have an example of that accountability, I think that will send a message about, uh, those who Harbor bias and other, other things that shouldn't be in law enforcement. And hopefully it's an invitation to those folks to exit the profession. Um, for those who choose to remain, they must change or recognize that things like our commission on police practices, uh, we'll identify them and hold them accountable. I think that a part of what I said before about relief in terms of my reaction to the, to the verdict is a recognition that for many of these cases, while we might think they're guilty, that isn't necessarily the verdict and that anxiety, um, is an, um, a reinforcing of the recognition that there's there's work that must be done here.

Speaker 3: 05:37 But I think the message is said very clearly that a case like Derek Chauvin's, uh, is being held accountable and that as we move forward with the forms and we, uh, adjust our expectations, um, set them very clearly, um, that officers will be held accountable to those, to those new standards. I was proud to cast my vote in favor of assembly bill three 92 by Dr. Shirley Weber a couple of years ago, that changed our standard for use of force in our state. And, you know, I think we'll start seeing the outcomes of that over the next number of months and years, we're having a robust dialogue. And the outcome of that is that this issue is not fading away. And that's something, frankly, I've been very afraid of, um, that in the midst of a pandemic and an economic slowdown, that this issue will be squeezed out of the headlines and sort of out of mind, grateful to all of the residents and leaders who are keeping this in the headlines and holding folks like myself accountable for the change that they wish to see.

Speaker 3: 06:40 And as we move forward with these policy changes, ultimately that flows down to, uh, the patrol level where the expectations are set. Um, and I believe the vast majority of officers will meet those expectations. When we have an officer that does it willfully, um, and criminally, we will hold them accountable beyond the reforms that you have proposed and the changes in police practices that have already been made art. What more can you think needs to change? Uh, and I appreciate that question because as a person of color, I can say that while policing is a very significant part of structural racism in our society, I also see it very present in our housing economy, in our education system, and so many other facets of our community. And while we are understandably prioritizing policing for reform because of the potential loss of life, we have to address the presence of systemic racism in where people are allowed to live, where they may send their child to school.

Speaker 3: 07:44 And the lifelong impacts of both of those decisions. Um, not because of choice, but because of systems that are in place that don't actually permit the choices that others may have. So while we are understand that we prioritize in this conversation around policing, um, I'm hopeful in the months ahead that I'll have an opportunity to put forward a series of housing reforms that I think might speak to some portions of this issue, as well as be supportive of other efforts at the local state and national level, uh, that can address other facets of why black and Brown members of our country and of our city, um, have a different experience of society, uh, than those who are not lack of Brown.

Speaker 1: 08:24 It was San Diego mayor, Todd glorious, speaking to midday edition producer, Brooke Ruth, since the death of George Floyd, there's been a deep examination of policing and systemic racism on a national level. And even here, as you just heard from mayor Todd, Gloria city of San Diego council, woman, Monica Montgomery step is chair of the council's committee on public safety and livable neighborhoods. She's been a voice for social justice and helped craft local police reforms. She is joining us now, council, woman, Montgomery. Welcome. Thank you so much for having me. You called the Derek Shovan case, a pivotal turning point. Can you expand on that?

Speaker 5: 09:02 Yes. Well, when I was waiting on the verdict, I was waiting and having the feelings that probably many people around the nation and around the world were having, I was anxious. I was nervous, and although it is just a verdict and we received a conviction, it really did for a moment validate black life. And so in that moment, understanding that there have been many cases that have gone the other way, or have not even been tried. It was a victory. I do think that we can take this and continue our work in re-imagining the entire system of how we keep people safe in our communities. I think it is pivotal. I think the verdict was pivotal, but it certainly is not all that we can do. Uh, but for a moment there, it did validate many of the things that we have seen in our communities. And so for that, I was encouraged by the verdict

Speaker 1: 10:08 Earlier in the show, we spoke to mayor Todd, Gloria, about the proposed police reforms brought forward. How involved were you in crafting those reforms? And do you think they go far enough?

Speaker 5: 10:19 Well, I am very encouraged to have a mayor that is standing on police reform. I have been the chair of public safety and livable neighborhoods. This is my third year now. And every year we do have to do a work plan. So there were quite a few things in his reform package that reflected in my work plans. And I think that that is a positive thing. When you have a partner in a strong mayor system who is willing to move these things forward, it really becomes easier for us to obtain what ultimately we want to obtain, which is re-imagining public safety. Now I know that details are extremely important. And as we move forward, we have to ensure that the policies that we pass are crafted thoughtfully and that they do ultimately result in the change that we want to see, you know, in our communities, in our neighborhoods.

Speaker 1: 11:14 Right. You know, because recent data shows, police are more likely to use force on people of color. How do the proposed reform specifically address that disparity?

Speaker 5: 11:24 Well, I think as we move forward and we look at doing consent searches differently, uh, and also banning essentially pretext stops that will reduce the amount of contact that officers have with residents who for the most part are not doing anything wrong. We see in that same study that black and Brown folks were stopped more frequently, but had less contraband than their white counterparts overall. So what that tells us is that there is over policing in our communities. I think if we reduce the stops to where officers can do their job, when it is needed and residents can also have the trust that they will not be stopped arbitrarily, then we are moving in the right direction. Certainly I also believe that talking about qualified immunity is, is very important. I believe that those conversations are being had on the state level, as well as being able to look at officers and their conduct in past law enforcement agencies, to be able to determine if they're a good fit for another law enforcement agency, all of those things are important, all revolve around accountability, and it all revolves around continuing our work in building trust between officers and community members.

Speaker 5: 12:52 What do you see as the role,

Speaker 1: 12:54 The city-wide changes in bringing about larger change across the County state? And

Speaker 5: 13:00 Well, I believe that we saw what impact that we can have when we got together. And the chief of police ultimately decided that carotid restraints and choke holds would not be used again, that they would be completely banned and that reverberated across the state. And so when we step out and we do things that we know are right, they will have an impact on our state and on our nation. It is not always the easiest decision to make, but we can look back and say that it was the right thing to do even under pressure. So moving forward, when we talk about re-imagining, how we keep people safe in our communities, we will have to recondition ourselves from the things that we have been taught generation after generation about what public safety means. And we will have to shed some of the fear that we have of each other in order to have a better society for everyone, where all people are treated equitably. And that is how we keep our community safe. That's how we will do this. We have to make the harder decisions and we have to challenge ourselves based on what we have learned about these situations over and over and over again.

Speaker 1: 14:26 I've been speaking with city of San Diego council, woman, Monica, Montgomery step Councilwoman Montgomery step. Thank you very much for joining.

Speaker 5: 14:35 Thank you so much for having me

Speaker 1: 14:44 The trial for the murder of George Floyd has sparked painful memories and many people of color who've seen their loved ones killed or injured

Speaker 6: 14:52 At the hands of police. One of those people is Lucy Elongo sister of Alfreda Longo, who was killed after an encounter with Elka hone police in 2016, Lucy Elongo called the police trying to get help for her brother who was acting erratically. Instead she saw an officer fire, four shots that killed her brother after the unarmed, uh, Longo raised a vaping device, which police say looked like a gun. The shooting of a Longo inspired an uprising of grief and outrage, and Elka hone, but did not result in a criminal trial or a conviction in civil court. And Lucy Elongo joins me now, Lucy, thank you so much for joining us.

Speaker 7: 15:33 Thank you for having me.

Speaker 6: 15:35 What were your feelings when you learned to Derek Shovan was convicted of murdering George Floyd?

Speaker 7: 15:41 I had a mixed feelings. I had all through seeing the evidence and what had happened. I wasn't so surprised. I was hoping that he gets convicted of what he did to this, you know, same men who was just laying and responsibly. And he continued to kneel on his neck, regardless of what other people were telling him like, Hey, this poor man is unable to breathe, please. He's not able to grieve. And he still continued to do what he was doing regardless to, you know, Mr. Floyd's life. It's very sickening. Just looking at that just is just unbearable feeling.

Speaker 6: 16:28 Do you feel the justice that George Floyd's family, the justice that they won yesterday was denied to you?

Speaker 7: 16:35 Absolutely. This man is walking free for killing my brother and had no consequences at all for doing what he did. And it just ripped my heart apart. Like, I feel like my heart is just ripped apart from my tests because he knew exactly what he was going to do. And I spoke with him prior to getting into an encounter with my brother dapped moment. And I couldn't believe that it was justified.

Speaker 6: 17:11 Now your mother sent a message to George Floyd's family following the verdict. I wonder if you can read that message for us?

Speaker 7: 17:18 Sure. I think it is a relief for the Floyd family and their community, because just, it had been served now grieving, grieving mothers. Just give me a moment. Yes. Grieving families and mothers around the world or around the country. It's a relief for the Floyd family and the community because justice has been served. Now the mother, the family of, um, the Floyd family, may the Lord rest his soul in peace. It is the beginning that we need change in the system because black people have the same right to leave in this country as human and not to be moderate, just because of their skin color. We thank the community for opening their hearts about the truth and the facts, but I won't stop grieving and the pain will never go away because Alfred my son, my late son didn't get the justice that he deserved. The police who murdered him was set free without punishment. And it is an, he is enjoying his life and working to my whole family. And I have been affected, only change in the system to respect black life. Me heal the wound in my heart. And someday I hope it is too. It is too much for a mother to lose a child because of a skin color. That is what my mom's scent.

Speaker 6: 19:16 Lucy. Lots of people have been talking about yesterday's verdict as a turning point. Even the president says he sees this as a giant step forward toward the end of police bias. What do you think?

Speaker 7: 19:30 I think this is just the beginning. Um, this sends a very straight message that, Hey, don't, there's nobody that is above the law. Whether you're a police officer, you commit a crime, you should pay for the crime. You commit, you shouldn't be hidden around by the higher up, if you do something wrong, because that does not happen to any other person like you and I or anybody else in the community or on the street. When you commit a crime, you pay for the crime you do. And there should be no limits, whether they are a police officer or their government employee or anything of the side everybody's should be responsible for the deep they do.

Speaker 6: 20:17 It sounds as if this loss is still very real and very raw for you.

Speaker 7: 20:21 It is. I live every day. I live it every day. I can watch movies with any shooting or anything involved. It is when I walk around or even driving, just hearing a siren going through, I just can't, you know, I start having anxiety and restaurant thoughts and everything. I just use it. And sometimes I just don't know what to do. I just freeze. It is really difficult. It's been hard.

Speaker 6: 20:50 Do you think that the guilty verdict in George Floyd's murder is going to help in any way for you and your family to move forward?

Speaker 7: 20:59 I don't think this is gonna help my family, uh, go forward anything because my brothers is still gone and we can see him. He's not here with us. His children cannot see him. My family suffered these each and every day, but we are very grateful that you know, this officer is found guilty for monitoring Mr. Floyd, this just the beginning. And we still have a lot of work to do definitely as a community, as a country, as the whole.

Speaker 6: 21:31 I've been speaking with Lucy Elongo whose brother Alfred was shot and killed by a police officer and alcohol in 2016. Thank you very much, Lucy.

Speaker 7: 21:41 Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate your time.

Speaker 6: 21:57 I'm Maureen Kavanaugh with Jade Heinemann, you're listening to KPBS midday edition today. We're bringing you a special program with reaction from people in San Diego, to the jury verdict of guilty on all three counts against Derek Shovan for the murder of George Floyd. There was a March downtown last night in support of the verdict, Dr. Maria, you Loco a surgeon in the Hoya was among the marchers. Here's what she had to say.

Speaker 2: 22:23 I think what we're at is just acknowledging that there's a gaping wound that people have been reporting for centuries and no one has been paying attention. And so now we're finally paying attention to the wound. And I think this is the first time we're truly paying attention to the wind. So is this a gateway to healing? I don't think so. Just quite yet. But the first steps of healing is actually knowing that there's a wound present

Speaker 6: 22:49 The prosecution in the Shovan trial, made a point of saying that this was not an anti-police trial. It was a murder trial against one former police officer. The lawyers claimed that police across the nation were appalled by the video of the murder of George Floyd. Many activists say they don't fully agree with that assessment, but at least one group of law enforcement officers are familiar with the tension between racial inequities and loyalty to their profession. They are members of the black police officer's association. And joining me is Harold Oliver. He spokesman for the San Diego black police officer's association and a Sergeant with the San Diego police department. Sergeant Oliver, welcome to the show. Thank you for Avenue. What has this trial been like for you and your members?

Speaker 7: 23:38 I'm just kind of waiting with bated breath throughout the duration of it. As you know, the last

Speaker 8: 23:46 Year with the, the entire civil unrest, a lot of hours, uh, here at work, uh, trying to make sure that we're allowing people to protest peacefully, but protect their life and citizens and property within the city of San Diego. So it was, it was a, it was a trying time. Did

Speaker 6: 24:01 You think Shovan would be convicted?

Speaker 8: 24:03 It was with mixed emotions on that. And I say that because being married and just the history of law enforcement, we have an ugly history. Uh, we might not be able to outlive that, but we, as far as the black police officers association, uh, we welcome the verdict. I was kind of shocked myself. I didn't think that it would be a conviction, but it's a step in the right direction.

Speaker 6: 24:25 Are you surprised that so many Minneapolis police officers testified against Shovan even the police chief?

Speaker 8: 24:32 No, not surprising. Uh, there's a lot of men and women within our profession and they do an outstanding job every day. And sometimes they pay the ultimate sacrifice in which has given their life. So we want to continue to build public trust that has been damaged over the years. No one wants bad police officers out of the profession and the men and women who do the job right every day.

Speaker 6: 24:56 Now black police officers often get criticized from both sides criticized for not being black enough or not blue enough, have your officers and counted that tension.

Speaker 8: 25:06 We have as far as the civil unrest, because I don't think that a lot of folks are fully aware that we're out here to do the right thing. And then within the black police officers association, a lot of our members are not black. They're, they're Hispanic, they're white, they're Asian. So we work to try to build that trust within the communities that we serve. We want to mirror the communities that we serve to build that trust.

Speaker 6: 25:29 How do you handle that tension though? You know, get getting flack from perhaps both sides of the, of the coin.

Speaker 8: 25:36 You know, you, you can't take it personal. It's a job that you have to do and you have to do it the right way.

Speaker 6: 25:42 I recognized racial bias and the police officers you've worked with.

Speaker 8: 25:46 I haven't not within the San Diego police department. I can't speak to the other agencies that are out there. I've been with the agency 23 plus years and built a lot of great relationships with some outstanding officers out here.

Speaker 6: 26:00 You know, some officers say the increased scrutiny of their actions in the wake of the racial justice movement makes it harder for them to do their jobs. Is there any truth to that?

Speaker 8: 26:11 I think that if you do the job correctly, you should be fine with that. I think we're going to be scrutinized no matter what you do. Anytime we have an interaction with the community, no one really wants that. No one really wants to be stopped by the police for the simplest things like traffic tickets or whatnot. So anytime we have to deal with citizens throughout the day-to-day travels is usually dealing with people when they call us. And it's probably at the worst possible moment that we have to deal with with citizens out there. It's just the reality of the business that we're in. You know, when people

Speaker 6: 26:44 Talk about systemic racism in police departments, how do you interpret that?

Speaker 8: 26:49 I just think it's deeply rooted and, and it comes from a history of, of what policing was. And I'm 50 years old, so long before I was born. So it's as deeply rooted in some communities for folks that, that are up there in age.

Speaker 6: 27:03 And what does it mean about the way the department deploys its resources? There's been a lot of talk about reallocating resources from traditional police activities to more outreach into the community on various aspects like education and mental health.

Speaker 8: 27:19 Well, we, we, as the, uh, black police officers association, we've done that for years. And throughout my 23 years, plus within the department, we've gone out to elementary schools, high schools, we've attended community events, we've hosted events to where we can bring the community and as a whole to provide resources and out of uniform, just so they can see us as people just like they are. We're part of society, just like everybody else. Uh, and, but we do have a job to do when we come to work everyday, we will want to humanize ourselves to the commander and know that we're out here to serve we're we're not out here to terrorize people and our leadership makes sure that that happens on a day-to-day basis.

Speaker 6: 27:59 You say you have not seen racial bias in the police officers you've worked with in the San Diego police department, but what more, what kind of changes, if any, would you like to see still be accomplished to reach that goal of racial equity?

Speaker 8: 28:14 I would say strong leadership within the supervisors and management position, because we are the ones that are in direct contact with the officers on a day-to-day basis, you set your expectations and you hold them to that.

Speaker 6: 28:26 I have been speaking with Sergeant Harold Oliver, he spokesperson for the San Diego black police officer's association and a Sergeant with the San Diego police department. Thank you so much for your time.

Speaker 8: 28:38 Thank you very much for having me

Speaker 6: 28:45 The activism surrounding the murder of George Floyd and outrage over institutional racism have already produced some changes in government. San Diego County, for instance, has created a new office of equity and racial justice. The director of the office is 40 year old, Andrew Strong, a long time County administrator, who now becomes one of the few people of color in County leadership, stepping into this newly created position in this highly charged atmosphere of both hope and anger over racial inequities is to say the least challenging Andrew Strong director of the office of equity and racial justice for San Diego County joins us now. And welcome.

Speaker 8: 29:27 Thank you, Maureen. Thank you for having me today.

Speaker 6: 29:29 I have to start by asking you, what is your reaction to the guilty verdict in the Derek Shovan trial and what effect do you think it's going to have on the effort toward racial justice in America? It

Speaker 8: 29:39 Was a profoundly

Speaker 9: 29:42 Day, um, yesterday for, I think a lot of us who who've been traumatized by this, right? I mean, this is, and all of these events that have led to the culmination of the verdict yesterday, in addition to, you know, other black lives who been lost at the hands of police officers, uh, to say the truth, you know, my initial reaction, I immediately started thinking about all those who haven't gotten justice or accountability. Uh, you know, so it was a, it was a more emotional roller coaster for me personally, um, knowing that this is a step in the right direction, you know, and I am immensely happy for the family of George Floyd and the citizens of that city for the accountability that they received yesterday. But we're still on that road to, to actually seeing justice for this specific incidents through the sentencing phase of this. Right. So I have to tell ya, I, I I'm, I'm ecstatic, but at the same time, I'm hopeful. And at the same time, I know that there's still a lot of work to do within our own city and County. So yeah, it was definitely a profoundly emotional day for me, my family. And I know a lot of folks

Speaker 6: 30:50 Lines of the work that remains to be done. There's just been a series of reports in the San Diego union Tribune that analyze the stop and search data from law enforcement in San Diego and the Sheriff's department did not fare too well in that report with disproportionate stops being made against black San Diego wins so far, the Sheriff's department is disputing the numbers. It is not acknowledging systemic bias. How do you see that issue?

Speaker 9: 31:18 You know, I, I see that issue as, as one that we need to significantly take a step back and reflect on, you know, I, I understand that the sheriff wants to just be those those numbers and he has every right to right, but he also needs to take a look at, at his organization to see if there is systemic racism is to see if there is systemic bias. Um, and I would argue that they're there, that exists in every organization, you know, and it's for us to take a look at that, to see where that exists, because you have to think about the historical context to what really constituted, structural and systemic racism and what that is. And, you know, when you think about the historical context between slavery, Jim Crow, um, you think about mass incarceration, you think about all of those things that, that were in place and may have been, are gone today. Yet you still have things that were put in place that perpetuate this cycle of systemic and structural racism over time. So although you might not see it on its face, you need to take a step back and do some serious, significant self-reflection, um, within your organizations culture. And I just, for this year, that's just that's for, for, for all of us, including the County of San Diego,

Speaker 6: 32:27 Your new office, have any input in any policy changes or reforms in the Sheriff's office.

Speaker 9: 32:33 Well, definitely, you know, have be able to provide suggestions and work with the sheriff. We're still trying to figure out what the roles and responsibilities of this office will be. Um, and how we work with our partners, how we work with our local law enforcement agencies, the sheriff, and the district attorney and what the relationship will be, including clerk, citizens, law, these porcelain review board. So it still stands to discuss, to figured out how much involvement influence this office does have, uh, within the Sheriff's department. But now the sheriff is an elected official. He reports to the public much, much like our board of supervisors.

Speaker 6: 33:09 Well, let me ask you this. Do you think the budget for the Sheriff's department needs some re-evaluation maybe a reallocation of resources for community education and mental health and things of that nature?

Speaker 9: 33:21 Absolutely. I, I think, um, we definitely need to take a critical look at that. And, um, as a matter of fact, one of the things that supervisor of artists, our chair Vargas and district one directed to staff was to create a budget equity tool. And this is really to help our department heads and our, our staff, you know, really look through an equity lens when it comes to our allocation of resources. Um, and it's really important to take a look at that and, and, you know, and this is something that, that we're going to be applying to our entire organization, as well as the Sheriff's department budget. And again, you know, I have to go back to the fact that, that the sheriff is an elected official, so I don't direct him to do anything and neither does the board necessarily, but we are going to strongly recommend that we use this equity tool to see how our resources aligned and, you know, maybe that, that means, you know, taking resources from our jails, you know, and putting it into health or healthcare services or, or more proactive, preventative services, restorative justice type services. Um, but it really is taking a critical look at that. And I know the sheriff has already done some of that work, you know, I w I also want to give, give some props to the sheriff we're actually taken, uh, starting to take that step. Right. But there's also some work to be done. There's also work that needs to be done. And that's across our entire organization.

Speaker 6: 34:42 What kind of changes do you hope to accomplish within County government?

Speaker 9: 34:48 Well, you know, right now we're really land the foundation for, um, for, for what I think is going to be some systemic and structural changes, um, within our organization. And, and, you know, I have three big picture goals that I really want to see change this organization, right. And one of them is to rebuild trust with our community. We need to engage our community in a, in a more intentional, um, different manner to create a sense of belonging from our community and County government, right. We need to break down the walls of County government and, and, you know, a great example of that was the board meeting that was on April six. And it was a 13 hour board meeting, right. It started at 9:00 AM and ended at 11:30 PM. And, you know, it's a long day, but it also allowed for the members of the public to feel like they had a sense of, and they could come in after work and have a conversation with their elected officials, you know, and another thing is, is creating cultural, competent organization.

Speaker 9: 35:45 I want this organization, the County, uh, to be culturally competent in all aspects, right? When you're talking about our LGBTQ population, or you're talking about race and ethnicity, you know, we need to have a higher level of competency. And then, um, we need to, you know, really take a critical look at, at policies and programs, um, bad perpetuated structural and systemic racism. You know, we need to really take a look at those issues and, and create some systemic change that we can measure over time that we could actually show those results. So this is, you know, a lot of tough work for a lot of folks, and it's, it is a paradigm shift for, for not just our employees, but for the public

Speaker 1: 36:26 Came with the Andrews, strong his director of the new office of equity and racial justice for San Diego County. Andrew, thank you for your time.

Speaker 9: 36:34 Thank you very much, Maureen. It's been a pleasure.

Speaker 1: 36:46 I'm Jade. Hindman with Maureen Kavanaugh and you're listening to KPBS midday edition. Today. We are bringing you reaction and reflection from San Diego gins on the finding by a Minneapolis jury that former police officer Derek Shovan is guilty of murdering George Floyd last night in downtown San Diego, people marched in support of the verdict among them was Alicia Crawford, who identifies as a black woman. And as part of the unity runners who run to honor Brianna Taylor, here are her thoughts on what justice really means.

Speaker 10: 37:19 Justice. For me, it looks like black and Brown people being able to walk outside of their house and not feel like they might not make it back home, or actually to be able to be in their homes and feel like they're completely safe to me. That's, what's just, that's true justice. And as of today, we don't have that

Speaker 1: 37:37 Her words speak to an ongoing movement for justice. They speak to a verdict in the Shovan trial while America's justice system remains on trial. And so the conversation continues over how to fix the system and what it will take to do that. Joining me is a DC LK belong, a professor of Africana studies at San Diego state university, professor Al cable on welcome.

Speaker 9: 38:02 Thank you. Thanks so much for the invitation.

Speaker 1: 38:05 So first, how personal was George Floyd's murder and the guilty verdict in Derek Chauvin's trial for you?

Speaker 9: 38:12 Wow, well, I wept after the verdict was read yesterday, uh, but my tears were not tears of joy and my tears reflected my quiet rage at a system that has not changed. I mean, Shovan was merely a sacrificial lamb that will be used to support the false narrative that the system works, but a real change

Speaker 11: 38:36 Will come when the system changes, not when one officer out of tens of thousands, uh, finally, you know, or is finally held accountable. But, uh, as a black man in America, uh, I identified, uh, in so many ways with, with George Floyd,

Speaker 1: 38:54 Um, you know, I'd like to put this into historical context for people. Can you talk about why this moment is so important, but also why it's part of a continued fight for justice?

Speaker 11: 39:06 Well, it is an important moment and I know that there were celebrations across the country yesterday as a result of it in those, you know, celebrations really reflected, uh, that what happened yesterday is not something that happens in this country, uh, very often. Um, but in context, I mean, this is the, this is the first time that we've witnessed the crumbling of the so-called, uh, blue wall of silence. Uh, but it's an isolated moment in time and not really a reflection of changing times in my view. Uh, but this is what accountability looks like. And this is what should always happen when the police murder, the people they are sworn to protect, but this verdict means nothing. If it is not followed by a commitment, uh, to change the way law enforcement and really the entire justice system treats black people.

Speaker 1: 39:56 Let's look at this one case with George Floyd and talk about all that it took to get accountability for his death.

Speaker 11: 40:05 Well, it took what it took was a pandemic and nationwide protests for Shogun to even be arrested. So let's not forget that what we witnessed in 2020 was unlike anything we've seen in the last 50 plus years in this country. That's what led us down the path to accountability for this one police officer out of tens of thousands. And it should, it shouldn't have to be that way, but it is a, it was. So if this is a turning point in America, which I've heard a lot of people say in the last 16 hours or so, uh, then show me, I mean, don't tell me, I mean, show us that this is a turning point in this country,

Speaker 1: 40:41 You know, from policing to the courts. In what ways do you think the system should be fixed?

Speaker 11: 40:47 I think it's easy to say that police need training, but training is really not the issue. The issue is that the entire system is built upon white supremacy and the less to control black bodies. That blood lust is what needs to be changed. Holding every police officer to higher standard or to a higher standard is what needs to be changed right now trained officers sworn officers are held to a much lower standard than civilians with no training. Uh, qualified immunity is one of the biggest factors that give law enforcement, a carte blanche over, you know, killing black people, uh, that needs to change. I know that a lot of people don't understand what defund the police means. Uh, but resources should be redirected from law enforcement. It's a social services and community led safety programs and projects, settlements for victims and victims. Families should be tied to police pensions rather than city budgets. So abandoning qualified immunity and just holding police accountable for their actions, minimally, uh, is how this system should, uh, be fixed. So that's where we should start fixing the system

Speaker 1: 41:59 This morning. It was announced the DOJ will investigate the Minneapolis police department for unconstitutional policing. Two question for you about this first, do you think the Minneapolis PD is an outlet?

Speaker 11: 42:13 Uh, I don't think Minneapolis PD is an outlier. I mean, what the entire world saw was the kind of deprived and difference that plagues law enforcement throughout the country. We see it here in San Diego. We saw it last night in Columbus with the killing of 16 year old McCaya Bryant. We saw it in Kentucky with Brianna Taylor and the list and locations go on and on and on.

Speaker 1: 42:36 I think this DOJ investigation could open the door for larger change on the federal

Speaker 11: 42:41 Level. I really hope that I'm wrong. Um, but I really don't think that it will. And I I'm sure that your listeners, you know, would want to hear something much more, you know, uh, positive and hopeful, but you know, who is supposed to inspire that hope? I mean, Joe Biden, who seemed to have had, you know, more smoke for protesters in the past and law enforcement, you know, one of the chief architects of the crime bill mass incarceration, he's already backing away from a campaign pledge to create us police oversight, a us police oversight commission, uh, Canada Kamala Harris, whose career was also rooted in mass incarceration of poor black people in California and protecting law enforcement. So, you know, I would like to see actual policy changes to address these matters rather than simply reaching out, uh, to the family of George Floyd and shaming protestors for the methods by which they demonstrate their frustrations. So until we begin to have those kinds of conversations, I'm not prepared to say that larger changes on the federal level is on the horizon. So

Speaker 1: 43:48 How much distance is there between where we are today and actual Liberty and justice for all?

Speaker 11: 43:57 Well, to answer that question, uh, I have to borrow the words of Malcolm X and Malcolm X said that if you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out six inches, there's no progress. If you pull it all the way out, that's not progress. Progress is healing. The wound that the blow made, and they haven't even pulled the knife out, much less heal the wound. They won't even admit the knife is there. That sums up where we still are at this moment.

Speaker 1: 44:29 I've been speaking with a LK Balon SDSU professor of Africana studies, professor LK Balon. Thank you so much for joining.

Speaker 12: 44:37 Yes, you're welcome. And again, thank you so much for the invitation.

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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.