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More Calls For Police Reform

Cover image for podcast episode

The Rev. Shane Harris of the People's Association For Justice Advocates (center) is joined by Bishop Cornelius Bowser (right) and Yusef Miller of the North County Equity & Justice Coalition (left) on June 10, 2021.

JOHN CARROLL

Demands for police reform in San Diego continue as a prominent civil rights leader at The People's Association for Justice Advocates says their organization will soon put out policy suggestions on reforms, including how to better account for use-of-force complaints. Meanwhile, an altercation between sheriffs deputies and Black Lives Matter protestors occurred in Imperial Beach. Plus, we’ll have a preview of this weekend’s local arts events.

Good Morning, I’m Annica Colbert….it’s Friday, June 11th.

>>>>

What policing policy reforms look like for San Diego

More on that next, but first... let’s do the headlines….

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The San Diego County Fair is back and it opens today. It may not be the fair you’re used to, but you can still expect rows of food vendors, shopping booths, the classic ferris wheel and carousel, shows, and 4th of July fireworks. What’s new this year is that reservations must be made in advance, both parking and for entry. You have to select an arrival time to avoid overcrowding. Tickets will NOT be sold at the door. The fair is open from Wednesday to Sunday from 11am to 9pm each week and it’ll run until July 4th.

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A new report says the chance of a devastating wildfire puts nearly 610 billion dollars worth of property at risk in california. The non-partisan group next 10 says the state needs a concerted planning effort to build communities that are more fire safe, including encouraging climate friendly policies like urban infill development. Karen chapple is a UC Berkeley researcher:

“we take the low hanging fruit and we just kinda, let’s rebuild. there’s no thought. there’s no preparation. we already know that a dollar in mitigation costs can save three dollars in recovery costs. but we think about mitigation in terms of home hardening. in terms of fuel breaks.”

Wildfires can be devastating to people who lose homes, but flames also hurt the supply of more affordable housing which is frequently found in more rural areas.

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Governor Gavin Newsom, and other elected officials in the state are all getting raises. On Tuesday the California Citizens Compensation Commission approved a 4.1% pay hike that will take effect in December. The four-member commission has approved raises every year from 2013 to 2019. It did not do so in 2020, however, given the budget shortfall due to the pandemic... Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who’s running to replace Newsom in a recall election, says Newsom should reject the pay raise.

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

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

The leader of a local civil rights organization says there needs to be serious reform in how local law enforcement agencies account for use-of-force complaints.... And in how the agencies deal with officers once they confirm those complaints. More from KPBS’ John Carroll.

“It is a track record that we need to pay attention to.”
The Reverend Shane Harris leads the People’s Association of Justice Advocates. Ever since the killing of George Floyd, his group has been working on what they see as abusive and discriminatory policing in San Diego County.
Harris sent a letter to the Sheriff’s Department asking for information on deputies who’d had abuse of force complaints. In a news conference Thursday, he said the idea is to root out bad apples.
“We’re going after the next Derek Chauvin and it only takes one. Minneapolis showed us that.”
TRACK:
Harris asked for three pieces of information. First: How many currently employed deputies had two or more sustained, that is confirmed, use-of-force incidents on their record. Sheriff’s department records go back to 1995.
In their response, the department said 3 deputies had 2 or more sustained violations.
Next, Harris wanted to know how many deputies had 2 or more unfounded claims against them?
The answer - 31 deputies were the subject of 2 or more unfounded allegations.
Then Harris asked how many deputies from each category had been involved in a deputy-involved shooting. The answer - 1 from the sustained group and 1 from the unfounded group.
Harris says the Sheriff’s response is unsatisfactory.
CG: Rev. Shane Harris/People’s Assoc. Of Justice Advocates
“We believe that there is a biased view in there because it’s like a teacher grading their own paper. and these are deputies that are still working in the department confirmed, for sure.”
Harris also criticized the Citizens Law Enforcement Review Board… the group that does its own investigations of use-of-force incidents. He says the group is toothless and needs to be reformed. Moving ahead, Harris says it’s about making serious changes in policy. He says taxpayers should be supportive of change because they’re on the hook when local government has to pay out claims.
“We have to get rid of the bad apples in order to save our democracy and our humanity and our taxpayer dollars and lives.”
The Sheriff’s Department had no comment on Harris’s charge that they’re biased in how they handle complaints against deputies. JC, KPBS News.

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The San Diego Sheriff’s Department is investigating a recent altercation among some of its deputies and Black Lives Matter protestors in Imperial Beach. KPBS Reporter Melissa Mae spoke to the woman who protestors claim was wrongly arrested.

This is what transpired after a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest in Imperial Beach on Sunday….
According to a statement from the Sheriff’s Department, three deputies were responding to allegations from a white man that he was punched by a female protester, who is Mexican American. When the deputies approached the woman, she pulled away, the statement said. Then, according to the statement, other protesters began attacking the deputies. One of the deputy’s body camera was stomped on by protesters and another stolen, the statement said.
However, the woman, Margarita Servin Ruelas and other protesters say the Sheriff’s statement is inaccurate.
Margarita Servin Ruelas // San Diego State Alumna
“This guy that blamed me, that wrongly accused me. He made up a story about me. He told the cops that he got hit by me, so in return they hit me and abused me because they think I did something wrong to him.”
The 24-year-old Servin Ruelas says she sustained injuries when deputies forced her into a squad car.
“Opens the car and throws me in. The only thing that hit the car frame was my head. I had this huge welt.”
Servin Ruelas was taken to Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa where she was treated for her injuries. She was held overnight at the Los Colinas Detention Facility in Santee on charges of battery and resisting arrest, according to the Sheriff’s statement. She was released after posting $20,000 bail. No other arrests have yet been made and the Sheriff’s investigation is ongoing.
Melissa Mae, KPBS News.

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A North County organization that works with homeless and low-income community members is using art to help inspire the people they help. KPBS North County reporter Tania Thorne tells us about a new mural at Interfaith’s recuperative center in Escondido.

Interfaith Community Services is transforming a run down Escondido motel into a recuperative center.
“We're gonna be a place for people coming out of hospitals, people who are overcoming homlessness and need a place to stay and heal.
Greg Anglea, the CEO of Interfaith Community Services, says part of the motel's transformation includes a large mural... meant to inspire the residents of the center.
“It’s so much more amazing than we ever thought possible and it gonna be an inspiration to our residents and people who have gone through really really hard times.
Mauro Alvarez, a local artist, worked with Interfaith staff and residents to create the mural, which includes images like a phoenix… small birds representing the program’s steps… and a dark shadow breaking free from some shackles with the word “freedom.”
A reveal party for the mural and the work at the property will be held on June 26th. TT KPBS News.

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Coming up.... A recent analysis found members of Congress are more likely to nominate white students than minority students to attend the nation’s elite military academies. Advocates say Congress needs to reach out to more Black and Latino high school students and make them aware of opportunities at the elite schools. Plus, we’ll have a preview of local arts events going on this weekend. All of that’s next, just after the break.

Minority students are underrepresented at the nation’s elite military academies, a recent study finds. Advocates are calling on members of Congress who nominate attendees to make the 200-year-old nomination system more equitable for students of color.
Desiree D'Iorio reports for the American Homefront Project.

Nominations are required by law for students who want to study at military service academies. If they can get one, and meet the academies’ strict standards for admission, it means a free education in exchange for 5 years of service.
The Connecticut Veterans Legal Center analyzed over 2 decades of Congressional nominations. The center’s director Liam Brennan says the results are stark.
Brennan_YoungBlack TRT: 11
“Young Black Americans make up about 15% of the young adult population, but black students only received 6% of current members’ nominations at the military service academies. That's a great big differential.”
Brennan found similar disparities for Latinos: 8% get nominations even though they make up about 22% of young adults.
Brennan_Expected TRT: 4
“We expected to see discrepancies. The extent of the discrepancies were surprising.”
Brennan and others who've studied the issue say there are lots of reasons for those discrepancies. Some are rooted in a lack of equity in public schools; others involve how hard members of Congress work to find diverse nominees.
Daniele Anderson is with the Black Veterans Project. She graduated from the Naval Academy, but says few minority teenagers are even aware that's an option. Her junior ROTC commander suggested she give it a shot.
Anderson_idea TRT: 5
“We had some conversations about what a service academy even is. I really had no idea.”
Anderson says even minority students who do know about the academies might not feel like they’d be welcome there, or successful due to racism.
Anderson_micro TRT: 12
“You have microaggressions, sometimes macro aggressions, and this continues throughout your tenure, throughout your career, and you're still expected to perform at the highest levels of anyone your age.”
That could lead to fewer applicants of color. Democratic congressman Anthony Brown of Maryland says there’s a lack of qualified minority students who ask him for a nomination.
Brown_Underrepresented TRT: 11
“I have an underrepresented applicant pool. African American and Latino students are not applying at the same levels that I want them to apply.”
The report found just 38% of Brown’s nominations went to applicants of color in his majority-minority district.
Brown_hardest TRT: 7
“We're doing our hardest to squeeze the very best out of the small pool, and we actually overperform when it comes to appointments.”
Some lawmakers say if you want to nominate more diverse applicants, go out and find them.
Wilson_students TRT: 8
“Students sometimes need to be told, ‘The pathway to college is open to you.’ And that's true for the service academies as well.”
That’s former Air Force Secretary and former Republican Congresswoman, Heather Wilson. She nominated hundreds of students to the academies, and she’s an Air Force Academy alum herself.
She says some lawmakers and their staffs need to put more effort into the nomination process.
Wilson_priority TRT: 15
“For some people, it's just not a high enough priority, to spend time training members of Congress on how to do this. If I were to do one thing, it would be to focus on outreach and training the local office of members of Congress.”
But Wilson - now the president of the University of Texas at El Paso - defends the congressional nomination system. She says it's a good way to ensure the military’s future leaders come from all over the country.
Wilson_connection TRT: 15
“As the size of the military has gone down, there are communities and regions of the country that have very little connection to the military at all. And the nomination process helps fight against that by geographic dispersion of nominations.”
A recently passed law aims to standardize the way Congressional offices collect demographic data on their nominees, and make it more transparent. But there are no plans to change the nomination system, which has been law since 1802 when Thomas Jefferson established the Military Academy at West Point. I’m Desiree Diorio on Long Island

That was Desiree Diorio reporting from Long Island. This story was produced by the American Homefront Project, a public media collaboration that reports on American military life and veterans. Funding comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting

And if you’re looking to get into some local arts this weekend, we have KPBS Arts Editor Julia Dixon Evans here with her weekend preview….

First up, contemporary dance. Closing out the month-long "Dance is in the Air" Festival on Liberty Station's new outdoor stage, is San Diego Dance Theater's Young Choreographers showcase. This annual show celebrates new works by emerging choreographers — all of whom were originally selected in the 2020 competition, which was scheduled for March 14, 2020. We all know how that weekend shook out.
Throughout the course of the weekend, the Judges will choose a winning choreographer and dancer, and the audience can vote for their favorite, too.
The first part of the show brings guest artists from other canceled shows throughout the pandemic, including Mayra Barragan, who won the competition in 2019. What I've seen of Barragan's work is powerful, disruptive and surprising.
Performances kick off tonight and Saturday at 6:30 p.m., and then Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
Mainly Mozart launches their All Star Orchestra Festival this weekend at the Del Mar Surf Cup Sports Park, and they're moving away from their drive-in format for seated, outdoor pod-style audiences. This means you can bring up to 4 people on one ticket. And the tickets are selling fast — for tonight's performance you'll have to call the box office directly.
This festival brings together principals and concert masters from across the country. Opening weekend features two shows. Tonight at 8, take in Mozart's iconic Symphony No. 40 and Beethoven's also-iconic 5th Symphony. Saturday's 8 p.m. concert includes Ravel's "Le Tombeau de Couperin" which is a beautiful, six-movement suite for solo piano, Haydn's regal Trumpet Concerto and this, Mozart's Symphony No. 39 in E flat major.
Other performances take place on Wednesday, and then next weekend too.
And finally, the Say It Loud Juneteenth Festival kicks off on Sunday. San Diego Black Artist Collective paired with several theaters in San Diego — there's The Old Globe, La Jolla Playhouse, New Village Arts, Moxie, Diversionary and San Diego REP. This festival has it all — in-person outdoor events, stream on demand premieres of brand new plays written by local Black playwrights, book clubs and podcast takeovers. Plus, next weekend, on the actual Juneteenth holiday, there'll be a big Artists 4 Black Lives event in Balboa Park.
It all starts Sunday at the Flower Fields, part of New Village Arts theater's residency there. San Diego Black Artist Collective president Joy Yvonne Jones will speak, and there'll be performances of music like the Black National Anthem, short plays performed on stage, and poetry readings. Plus, the Buffalo Soldier Mounted Cavalry Unit will do a presentation of colors. Tickets are free, but you have to reserve a seat in advance and spots are filling up quickly.
That's Sunday at 6 p.m. at the Carlsbad Flower Fields.
For details on these and more arts events, or to sign up for my weekly KPBS/Arts newsletter to stay in the loop as performances and shows start coming back — go to KPBS dot ORG slash ARTS.

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 weekend.

San Diego News Now podcast branding

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.