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Report: San Diego Police Department Enforcement Practices Reveals Distinct Racial Disparities
KPBS Midday Edition / June 18, 2021
CREDIT: MILAN KOVACEVIC
A report released Thursday by a Yale University-based research organization found distinct racial disparities in police contacts — including searches, traffic stops and arrests — over a recent five-year period in San Diego. Plus, identities are complicated, messy and often incredibly personal. San Diegans weigh in on how they identify and their thoughts on the term Latinx. And this weekend in the arts: classical music honors the planet, a fictional band comes to life (live!), SDMA gets the floral treatment, a new San Ysidro art crawl and a Black playwright’s world premiere on Juneteenth.
Speaker 1: 00:00 Another report finds San Diego police stop and arrest people of color more
Speaker 2: 00:06 And having these conversations for many, many, many years. So I don't know what's different now in this case,
Speaker 1: 00:10 I'm Claire triglyceride, Maureen and Jade are off. This is KPBS, mid dead. Do you say Latino, Latin X, Hispanic, or Chicano?
Speaker 3: 00:29 I've never heard anyone use it. I've never heard anyone identify with it. And, uh, it's just a term. I don't know if it's going to stick or not, but it's not.
Speaker 1: 00:38 And we'll get a preview of weekends arts events, including father's day celebrations. That's ahead on midday edition. The number of times San Diego police stop search and arrest. People of color is higher than for white people. That's the finding of a new report released yesterday by a Yale university based research organization. Joining us with details is Jesse Marks or reporter for voices, San Diego, and welcome Jesse. Thanks Claire. Happy to be here to start. You've been trying to get this report for a while now. So tell us why it was only released. Now,
Speaker 2: 01:30 The explanation that the city has given officially is that they needed a few months to review it, to make sure that there weren't any mistakes in it. So we know that that process was completed sometime around April, but we tried to get a copy of it in March. And then we're told in may that we couldn't, because it was still technically a draft and that its release would chill internal deliberations within the city. So essentially, uh, San Diego argued that there wasn't a public interest in disclosing this report, but what the city did was call a press conference about 30 minutes in advance and at the press conference itself, they gave the reporters a link to the report. So essentially going into that press conference, you couldn't ask very specific details about it, but then after the fact reporters could go back and read it and then come up with questions. But by then the city officials had already given a press conference, they'd made their statements. They'd already talked about it. Okay,
Speaker 1: 02:21 Well that sounds like quite a journey. Uh, now that the report is actually public, can you summarize, um, a few of the findings and tell us whether you were surprised by them? So
Speaker 2: 02:34 The big level picture takeaway from the report is that people of color experience, uh, stops as well as force more often than their white counterparts, as you had noticed before, but specifically black San Diego has experienced non traffic stops 4.2 times more often than white people. They're also subjected to force 4.8 times as often as white people, uh, during non traffic stops, Asian, Latino people were searched 1.4 times, uh, that of white people. I think what's interesting in this case though, is that for years, the city of San Diego and specifically its police department has made an argument that past studies were either politically motivated or they were unfair and they didn't take into consideration. Certainly certain external factors say for instance, crime rates, poverty rates. And so this report, which was supposed to be the authoritative take on these issues, the one that was going to set aside all the past ones basically came to the same conclusion. So no, I'm not surprised.
Speaker 1: 03:33 And this report was done by an outside nonprofit that also works with other police departments, including in Berkeley, California. Can you tell us more about their philosophy? So
Speaker 2: 03:44 The name of the group is the center for policing equity. It got founded out of UCLA. It's now housed over at Yale university and it was founded by a academic he's a social scientist and he's also a social justice activist. But what's interesting about his philosophy is that he, he believes it's impossible, not impossible, but it's difficult to infer intent within data. He's capable of analyzing data and showing you where the disparities are, but he believes that it is so complex that you can't boil it down just to being racial bias. So the report that was released yesterday says quite clearly that racial bias may be a motivating factor, that the behavior of an individual officer may have contributed to those disparities, but it also lays out a number of other possible reasons, including the behavior or the actions of someone from the community who was stopped, uh, as well as potentially the department culture, as well as the policies.
Speaker 2: 04:42 And so it tries to take a bigger picture of, of what's going on and what contributed to disparities, but the organization itself, as well as the police officials have stated consistently over the last few years that they don't actually believe disparities equate to racial bias. And so the founder of the center for policing equity has actually written this in studies over the years, he has stated that his motivations are to take the temperature down in the room. And he thinks because you can't actually infer that there's racial bias buried within the, the data itself that it's going to allow, uh, the police department, community members to come together and to talk about changing larger patterns of behaviors rather than changing the specific attitudes of a police officer. Because again, they don't believe you can get inside the mind of a police officer just by looking at data.
Speaker 1: 05:33 It seems like their findings here in San Diego present an opportunity for the police chief David [inaudible] and mayor Todd, Gloria, to take a strong stand and say that change needs to be made. Have they done that? Well,
Speaker 2: 05:48 They have made a, a series of reforms over the last year. I would argue that they've been fairly modest going forward. They've also laid out a series of, uh, additional reforms on top of those over the last year. And so for instance, uh, the city is now talking about creating a new procedure for its interactions, with transgender and gender non-binary individuals. It's also talking about, um, revising its policy around consent. So when someone is actually searched, they have the right to refuse rather than feel like they can't. I think those are all good steps, but again, what's interesting here is that the city, you know, for a long time has been saying, there's no problem. There's no racial bias inherent in this data, but we're going to, we're going to do this and we're going to try to make things better. And so we're going to bring the community into the fold. We're going to go hold, hold community meetings. We're going to hold listening sessions. All of that. I think that's a good step. Whether or not they've been, uh, digging their heels in for the last couple of years,
Speaker 1: 06:44 We invited police, chief David and his light to be on the program today, but we're told he's not available. So instead I wanted to play a clip from an interview. He gave at the press conference yesterday when the report was released, disparities
Speaker 4: 06:59 Are going to exist because everything is society doesn't happen to grow along the demographic line. And until that happens, you're going to have disparities. And that's why it's important to understand that disparity does not equal discrimination.
Speaker 1: 07:13 When do you think he's saying there?
Speaker 2: 07:16 Well, I think what he's saying, there is not necessarily wrong, which is that, uh, interactions with police departments are complex and there's a lot of different factors taking place. What he seems to be gesturing towards is that there are larger external factors at play that the police department can't control for. And so he wants to have it both ways to a degree. It's a little bit of blame shifting. Um, but time and time again, we keep seeing these studies come out, showing these disparities. He's just unwilling to take it to the next step and say, okay, well maybe racial bias, maybe discrimination is an underlying cause of these larger patterns that there is systemically something related to, uh, something buried deep within this data itself, but they're not willing to go that extra step.
Speaker 1: 08:00 And that's what I was going to ask you is what happens next? Were there any concrete changes announced with the report? No.
Speaker 2: 08:07 What they basically offered up were a series of possible changes down the road, which would align with what Meriton Gloria had, uh, set a couple of months ago that he wants to rethink and reevaluate how the police department interacts with the public.
Speaker 1: 08:21 All right. Well, I've been speaking with Jesse Marks of voices, San Diego. Thank you, Jesse. Thanks Claire, Latino, Hispanic, Latin X, Chicano. There's so many different ways to express one's Latina dad, race and equity reporter. Christina Kim talks with community members about the different ways they identify and how they feel about the term Latin X.
Speaker 5: 08:50 The way people choose to identify is always changing, especially when it comes to defining Latina death or anyone of Latin American descent here in the United States at KPBS. We're now using the term Latin next, which is a non-binary way of saying Latino or Latina in an effort to be as inclusive as possible. But we know it's not definitive and has proved controversial because how we identify and are identified by others can get well personal. That's something you see San Diego professor [inaudible] who teaches about Latina, knows all too well.
Speaker 6: 09:23 So politics of labeling and with that politics, of course, our conversations around race, sexuality, gender, all of those components come into play. So that is something that, again, it's so personal that it is one that is emotive.
Speaker 5: 09:40 Why we asked you our listeners to share how you identify and your thoughts on the X in Latin X, we got almost 200 responses and they showed how deeply many of you are thinking about this multi-layered issue. Some like [inaudible] who identifies as non-binary embrace the term line next year.
Speaker 3: 09:59 For me, I just know nothing. If I a smaller female, I feel like very gender neutral. And so the whole term Latinex kind of feels like that, but it also feels like it's its own movement. Others
Speaker 5: 10:10 Like Rodrigo, Tapia of Chula Vista prefer terms like Hispanic or Latino because they connect him with his roots as a Spanish speaker. He understands the need to be inclusive, but things Latin next erases his connection with Spanish, which he grew up speaking.
Speaker 3: 10:24 It listened a little bit of whitewashing in so far as the language is concerned to me, Latino or Latina, or even Latin X means that you're identifying with a culture that holds Spanish, you know, in a special place,
Speaker 5: 10:38 Another two Livingston, Michael, and [inaudible] also doesn't use the ex. He prefers the term Chicano a political identity label often associated with Mexican Americans that emerged in the 1960s during the civil rights movement like that. Yet he thinks Latin next is a term imposed by white people.
Speaker 3: 10:55 I've never heard anyone use it. I've never heard anyone identify with it. And, uh, it's just a term. I don't know if it's going to stick or not, but it's not from us.
Speaker 5: 11:04 And that's a big tension point. Where did Latin X even come from? Professor Reese says, that's a difficult question.
Speaker 6: 11:12 So there is no one origin story. Uh, the X is one that is discussed as coming out of indigenous communities throughout Latin America. It's one that we have seen used within Latin American feminist circles as well. When we're talking about Latin X within the U S the X is really functioning there to mess with gender binary
Speaker 5: 11:34 Because of the lack of clarity about when people started using land. Next, people have their own interpretations and understandings about it. And the [inaudible] identifies as Latin X and Chicanex. And unlike in Zuzana and Tapia, doesn't see line next is a colonized label coming from outside the community. She likes using the, because it makes people stop and think about who has been ignored. The
Speaker 6: 11:57 X makes me think of the people that are not often included in these conversations. Non-binary people after Latinos or Africanos and people with disabilities in
Speaker 5: 12:08 The end, there isn't a single definition or understanding of any of these identity labels, but Reed says that's a good thing.
Speaker 6: 12:16 And so really we want to think about it as embracing the tension, really leaning into the messiness. That is a term like Latin X, like Latino. This question of Latina, that it's not one singular thing, but one that is much more multifaceted and has lots of different histories and experiences tied to
Speaker 5: 12:37 It. Have you seen that Kim KPBS news
Speaker 1: 12:45 This weekend in the arts, you'll find plenty of outdoor music, art theater, and even flowers to indulge the senses and with pandemic restrictions lifted and some uncertainty about what's out there and what you need to plan ahead for KPBS arts editor and producer Julia Dixon Evans is here with all the details. Welcome Julia.
Speaker 7: 13:06 Hi Claire. Thanks for having me to start.
Speaker 1: 13:08 There's lots to do in Balboa park. This weekend, let's start with art alive, which is San Diego museum of arts beloved flower show. It's back this year, but things look a little different, right?
Speaker 7: 13:20 Right. So there's no big bloom bash this year, but at least it's not entirely virtual, like last year, as well as they're installing floral sculptures inside the museum. These are the type that are inspired by their works from the museum's collection. And yes, the museum is open and they are still requiring masks. By the way, you can reserve time spots to visit for art alive, to avoid any sort of line as well on the half hour or on the hour. And it costs 25 to get inside for adults. Kids are free or they're $5. If they're teens and for a $40 ticket, you'll also get to go into the open air floral affair, which is new this year. That's in the Plaza de Panama, which is open from 10 to 8:00 PM tonight and Saturday, and then until six on Sunday. So they'll have large scale floral works there, there's a marketplace crafts and art projects for kids that's happening from noon to four every day. And then also food. And these fancy floral inspired coffee drinks, those Instagram worthy color changing types of fancy drinks. And two artists are also installing some contemporary sculptures outside. It's kind of a cool activation of the Plaza they're bringing in Rachel Hayes and Davis McHardy for that. There's also some virtual workshops and stuff you can experience from home too. And it's all free for our museum members and art alive
Speaker 1: 14:49 Officially opens at San Diego of art to the public today through Sunday. Then if you go to Balbo park on Saturday, there are some Juneteenth celebrations in the park, both part of the, say it loud festival of black theater and art. So tell us where we can find it and what
Speaker 7: 15:06 We can see. Yeah, so the old globe, they have their free access Juneteenth event and that's on their outdoor festival stage. It's free, but you do need to get a ticket reservation in advance. That's at noon from noon to one 15, they'll have performances for members of the San Diego, black artists, collective, um, dancers, musicians. They're doing scenes from some short plays. And this is also the first time that outdoor festival stage has been used for a live performance since 2019. It was last used for the Shakespeare festival that year, and then across the park, the same group, San Diego back artists collective is hosting artists for black lives. It's a community event and it's the second annual one of these. They have music performers, art vendors, and more, and that's over by that pepper Grove playground beginning at 1:00 PM.
Speaker 1: 16:00 So two Juneteenth events on Saturday at Bobo park to experience music, theater and dance from local black artists, the old globe at noon and artists for black lives at 1:00 PM. Then in the rock and roll world, there's an outdoor album release and show by a pretty unconventional band. Tell us about Xenos.
Speaker 7: 16:21 Yeah. So this is a fictional band. It's from local filmmaker and the Casbah bar manager, Ben Johnson, his recent film fan boy, the soundtrack for this movie was really great with a lot of local bands, but they also wrote and performed original songs as Xenos throughout the movie. And that's who we'll be playing this weekend at the Krakatoa parking lot in golden hill on Saturday at 3:00 PM, the album will be available on vinyl, and that will have the actual soundtrack on it with songs from bands like black heart procession, hot snakes, the have nots and tons more. And of course, Xenos, here's a little taste of them. [inaudible]
Speaker 1: 17:22 Xenos who come to life and play an afternoon outdoor show at Krakatoa in golden hill, Saturday at 3:00 PM. If you're looking to stay home, there's a virtual concert from the San Diego symphony part of the, to the earth festival. So tell us about this. Yeah,
Speaker 7: 17:38 So the symphony partnered with the great Steven Schick. He's an iconic contemporary percussionist and a long time UC San Diego music professor, he's inventive, thoughtful as a curator. And it shows in this project it's inspired by the daily cycle of the planet. There's three performances total. And the first is tonight. This one's called morning birds and light, and it's actually kind of literal about morning birds and light they'll pair music with poetry like from us poet Laureate, Joey Harjo and compositions by a pretty broad range of composers, including heighten a piece by a French composer, Olivia [inaudible] and contemporary American composer, John Luther Adams, his work songbird songs, which is pretty remarkable. And it's based on his study of songbirds.
Speaker 1: 18:28 The symphony is free virtual to the earth festival kicks off tonight at 7:00 PM online. And finally, I hear you have a father's day arts recommendation, what's happening at the maritime museum on Sunday.
Speaker 7: 18:40 So the Houseman quartet, they're doing a free mini version of their heightened voyages shows that's on the Berkeley ship. That's part of the maritime. And this show is only going to be 30 minutes long, which is nice to know if you're roping reluctant family members into it. And it's also free with museum admission. So you get a chance to explore the maritime as well too. The music they're playing is really interesting as well. And I will leave you with one of the compositions. It's one that housemen has done before California contemporary composer, Caroline, Shaw's the lens. Yeah,
Speaker 8: 19:41 [inaudible] [inaudible] Haussmann
Speaker 1: 19:53 Quartet performs a mini concert on the deck of the maritime museum Sunday at 4:00 PM. And it's free with museum admission. You can find details on these and more arts events or sign up for Julia's weekly KPBS arts email@example.com slash arts. I've been speaking with KPBS arts editor and producer, Julia Dixon, Evans, and Julia. Thank you. Thank you, Claire. Have a great weekend.