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Sheriff Deputies Accused Of Bias

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MATTHEW BOWLER

BLM supporters and MAGA supporters hold signs in Poway, Calif. Nov. 1, 2020.

Local allies against police brutality say law enforcement has ignored aggressive behavior by Trump supporters, according to some Black Lives Matter activists. Meanwhile, San Diego’s city budget is looking worse for wear as the pandemic continues. Plus, half of those eligible for CalFresh are dropping out of the program due to cumbersome paperwork.

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Wednesday, February 3rd.

Is there bias among San Diego’s Sheriff Deputies?

We’ll have that story next, but first... let’s do the headlines….

For the first time since the end of november, san diego health officials reported less than 1,000 New Covid-19 cases in one day. On Tuesday, the daily case count was 926 with 10 additional deaths.

This, as the county opened its fourth vaccination super station at Grossmont Center shopping mall in La Mesa....Volunteers are welcome to help keep the long lines moving.

A smaller vaccine site opened in San Ysidro at Southwestern college campus. UC San Diego Health announced it’ll open another vaccination super station at it’s campus for qualifying UCSD Health patients, faculty and staff.

Daily vaccinations in California have nearly quadrupled in the past month. State health and human services secretary Dr Mark Ghaly says three-and-a-half million residents have now been vaccinated with attention paid to both speed and equity. This, as Trinity county and Alpine county have been moved from the red to the less restrictive orange coronavirus tier. Meanwhile, 54 of California's 58 counties are still in the most restrictive purple tier.

From KPBS, you’re listening to San Diego News Now.

Stay with me for more of the local news you need.

Several Black Lives Matter protesters allege that the San Diego County Sheriff’s deputies not only ignored MAGA counter protesters assaults at Poway rallies, but that deputies even seem to sympathize. Sheriff Bill Gore has since denied any bias by deputies.

KPBS’ Amita Sharma has more.

Rancho Bernardo High School senior Gabriella Sanchez-Moore says when she heard students from a nearby campus had organized BLM rallies in Poway in November, she wanted in.
[00:07:31.950]”....It's just important to me that these students know that they're being heard and they're being listened to and we're going to fight for them.”
But Sanchez-Moore didn’t expect to experience this.
Video - Guy in truck yelling white power
A counter protester shouting white power.
The 17-year old says some of the MAGA counter protesters also pushed a teen BLM supporter to the street. But she says San Diego County Sheriff’s deputies on the scene didn’t act.
[00:09:52.630] “She was crying and she was trying to talk to the police and asking for help and trying to explain to the police what happened. [00:10:19.450] But the police ended up telling her that because she was a minor and she didn't have a parent there, they weren't going to do anything.”
Sheriff says he is unfamiliar with that incident. So far, he says deputies have filed 11 reports stemming from BLM protests in Poway since May. He could not provide a breakdown of how many were on behalf of BLM protesters or MAGA counter protesters.
Gore says the department screens all deputy applicants for ties to white supremacist or far-right groups. And he says the vetting continues once they’re on the force and as of yet he has found no deputies involved with extremists.
[00:15:36.340] “We work on it constantly in our training. We talk about safe, equitable, fair and unbiased policing.”
Jennifer, who only wanted her first name used because she fears retribution, wonders if some deputies have actually absorbed that training.
She says one day in November she saw racist members of the group Defend East County or D-E-C, some wearing knives around their waists and carrying a noise machine, encircle the teen BLM protesters. Jennifer says deputies close by appeared unmoved.
[00:05:40.810] “....The attitude was, if you come out here to protest, this is what you get. “
Later that day, Jennifer says a deputy refused to file a report after counter protesters shoved a 20-something BLM protester onto the street.
[00:07:17.020] “His position was until all of you leave and this girl is the only person left. I'm not doing anything. I refuse to call another officer.”
Gore says the deputy didn’t file the report because he lacked sufficient backup.
.[00:09:11.680] And to the limited manpower we had to go in and try to take a police report would further inflame the situation. ”
But Jennifer says a video of that same deputy talking to MAGA-DEC people moments later shows he’s biased toward one side.
Video: “Don’t worry, I’ve got you.”
Gore says the video must be viewed...in context. The sheriff says the deputy was trying to keep both sides apart while listening to a complaint from a DEC counter protester.
[00:12:23.280] “....And the deputy best I could tell is saying, I've got this, I've got it. Don't worry, I've got it. In other words, we're going to separate them. We're going to get them. We're going to get these groups separated. And you don't have to do it. That's how I interpret it. And that's what the deputy says his intentions were.”
Still, Sanchez-Moore says she can’t shake her belief that sheriff’s deputies favor the far-right.
[00:14:16.560]”We saw a group of the MAGA supporters talking to the cops and they were fist bumping and shaking hands and laughing.”
Gore says the glad handing was really...intel gathering.
[00:13:27.000]”....If somebody comes up in there and they want to fist you, it's hard to put yourself in a deputy situation when you're trying to develop rapport with these individual groups to say, get away from me, I can't talk to you. [00:14:04.710] So I can see how it could be interpreted that, oh, they're friendly with one side.
But University of Illinois at Chicago Law School Professor Samuel Jones, who specializes in police accountability, says that kind of public display discredits the sheriff's department.
[00:10:09.430]”....By appearing to be biased, by appearing to ignore the rights of any American in favor of another American, they are essentially engaging in conduct unbecoming of a police officer .”
Jones says the department’s handling of the protests and counter protests could dissuade BLM supporters from attending rallies.
As was the case with Gabriela Sanchez-Moore.
“[00:11:05.590],,,,:It's really difficult because I don't know that if something were to happen to me, I don't know what help I would receive.”
Gore says he’s disheartened by that sentiment.
[00:22:45.530] “....My commitment is to try to have those resources there. So that doesn't happen. So they do feel safe. I can't make them safe from hateful things or hurtful things that are said. I can protect them from physical danger. And if we were unable to do that in a particular situation, I'll take responsibility for that.”

That reporting from KPBS’ Amita Sharma.

The San Diego city budget looks worse and worse as the pandemic continues. KPBS metro reporter Andrew Bowen says budget cuts could come sooner than expected.

AB: The months-long surge in coronavirus infections and the resulting stay-at-home order led to a massive shortfall in San Diego's hotel tax revenues. A report released this week says the city will have to find more than 85 million dollars in savings over the next 5 months to achieve a balanced budget. Councilmember Sean Elo-Rivera said Tuesday any cuts should take into account which neighborhoods are suffering the most.
SER: The reality is that the impact of a reduction of a library or park and rec hours is simply not the same for a neighborhood where the average family can afford tutors or enrichment programs as it is for a family that is barely getting by.
AB: A federal relief package proposed by President Biden with direct aid to cities could spare San Diego from draconian budget cuts. But it must pass Congress.

President Biden signed a series of executive orders regarding immigration this week...and one of the orders aims to reunite families separated at the border by the previous administration.

KPBS’ Max-Rivlin Nadler reports.

Under the Executive Order, the Department of Homeland Security will launch an interagency taskforce…. To reunify the remaining separated families…
That work has so far been done by advocacy groups…. With limited assistance from the government…
But several years have passed since the separations…making the job even harder….
Erika Pinheiro is an Attorney with Al Otro Lado, one of the groups that has worked to reunite families. She’s frustrated the Biden administration is not taking immediate action.
Erika Pinheiro / Attorney, Al Otro Lado
8:33
Creating a taskforce doesn’t mean your reunifying families, it means you’re going to have a lot of meetings about what you’re going to do to reunify families.
Two other executive orders issued on Tuesday addressed the root causes of migration from central america, and the treatment of asylum-seekers when they arrive at the southwest border.

That story from KPBS’ Max Rivlin-Nadler.

After months of speculation, former san diego mayor Kevin faulconer made his run for California governor official. He made the announcement with a video on monday night...and then a news conference on (tuesday). KPBS reporter John Carroll says republicans see faulconer as their best shot at unseating Governor Gavin Newsom.

Faulconer released a slick two-and-a-half minute video announcing his run for Governor Monday night. On Tuesday, he held a rally to personally announce his run… in the LA suburb of San Pedro. No word from the campaign on why they held it there. Faulconer has raised more than a million dollars since launching an exploratory committee a few weeks ago, but UC San Diego political science professor Thad Kousser says he’ll need a lot more than that.
“Kevin Faulconer is gonna need 30, 50, 60-million dollars to get a message out there that is different than just the Republican brand.”
An effort to recall Gavin Newsom has until March 17th to gather more than one-and-a-half million signatures. If it succeeds, there will be a special election this fall. If not, Faulconer plans to run in the 2022 election. JC, KPBS News.

That story from KPBS’ John Carroll.

Coming up.... Half of the people who are eligible for CalFresh drop out of the program even though they’re still eligible for the program. We’ll have that story next, just after this break.

A new report shows more than half of California households that leave the CalFresh food assistance program do so while still eligible.

CapRadio's Mike Hagerty talked with Matt Unrath, a research fellow at the California Policy Lab at UC Berkeley, who wrote the analysis:

That was Matt Unrath with the nonpartisan California Policy Lab at UC Berkeley talking with CapRadio's Mike Haggerty. Unrath has a report out showing the paperwork required to reapply for CalFreshs make it hard for those eligible to enroll and then to re-verify their eligibility which they must do every six months.

That’s it for the podcast today. Be sure to catch KPBS Midday Edition At Noon on KPBS radio, or check out the Midday podcast. You can also watch KPBS Evening Edition at 5 O’clock on KPBS Television, and as always you can find more San Diego news online at KPBS dot org. I’m Annica Colbert. Thanks for listening and have a great day.

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San Diego News Now

San Diego news; when you want it, where you want it. Get local stories on politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings. Hosted by Anica Colbert and produced by KPBS, San Diego and the Imperial County's NPR and PBS station.