Transparency and Accountability in California Law Enforcement - Black Lives Matter Sacramento Weekly Blog Update

Being the capital city of the most populous state in the union has many advantages. BLM Sacramento is proud to stand in support of the California State Senate Bill SB 1286, and founder Tanya Faison will be speaking at the upcoming rally on the capitol steps Monday April 11 between 11:00am-12:00pm in support of the bill.  

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                        Photo Source - Raw Story

The newly introduced bill authored by Senator Mark Leno will provide the public with information we are being purposefully excluded from accessing due to the existing Police Officer’s Bill of Rights. California currently ranks amongst the most guarded and secretive states in regard to law enforcement’s level of transparency surrounding officer/citizen interactions, police shootings, police misconduct, and the processes departments take in addressing those issues. Specifically, the bill will 1) make any investigations, findings, or corrective actions public when an officer is involved in a shooting 2) make the investigation and discipline public when the department finds that an officer violated a citizen’s rights or engaged in job-related dishonesty 3) provide individual citizens a direct response to each complaint filed with factual findings and what the department’s course of action will be 4) allow local civilian boards to have the option to hold public hearings about civilian complaints or appeals from officer discipline 5) allow local government entities with police oversight to access personal records while still keeping that information confidential. This is not revolutionary justice, this is simply common sense.

Unfortunately “common sense” in law enforcement accountability has been a dream deferred for Californians. Right now when police kill someone the investigation and any disciplinary actions are kept secret. We, as citizens, are unable to find out if an officer has been disciplined for lying, police brutality, or illegal search and arrest. When we are harassed, beaten, or otherwise harmed by an LEO and file a complaint with the department, we are only told if our statement was found valid or invalid. We will never be told why our complaint was rejected, or what the department did to correct the problem if our complaint was substantiated. The current practices are based on a platform of concealment and authoritarian power. In no other line of work do we allow for this level of smokescreen and mirrors. If an officer unlawfully harms you or your child tomorrow, you will never know how, or even if, that officer will be disciplined. If an officer shoots you or your child tomorrow, you will never be given any information from the investigation (dash/body camera footage, police report, etc.), and you will never know how, or even if, there will be disciplinary action. This is not theory. This is not rhetoric. This is instead real Sacramento citizen’s lived experience.

On October 22nd 2015, Adriene Ludd was murdered by three officers in the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department. There was an investigation, police report, dash-cam footage from three separate vehicles, and officer statements. None of which has been given to Adriene’s grieving family. They do not know how their child died, and according to Sheriff Scott Jones may never be given that information. Why? What are they hiding? BLM Sacramento has been working toward justice for Adriene in collaboration with his family. Freedom of Information Act requests were made for the dashboard footage, police report, and autopsy. All were denied by the Sheriff’s department. Scott Jones even went so far as too say that he could not provide that information due to law enforcement codes—completely untrue. It is his choice to release the documents. It shouldn’t be any one person’s choice. It should be mandated by the law. Moving forward, the newly appointed Sacramento County inspector general Rick Braziel has been asked to open an independent investigation of Adriene’s murder; however, how “independent” will that investigation be when Mr. Braziel is the former Sacramento Chief of Police and a 30-year veteran of the Sacramento Police Department?

Police do NOT police themselves. We have seen the collusion between law enforcement and the judicial system over and over again throughout the nation. Blue lives have impunity without question, and Black lives have no value in system that was created to uphold their very enslavement. According to Sac PD themselves, in the last five years alone, 75% of all in-custody deaths have been POC, and 50% were Black. Who are these people? How did they die? Was police misconduct involved in their deaths? Were they murdered? If wrongdoing was found, were the officers involved disciplined? We don’t know. We ARE NOT ALLOWED to know.

California is ready to explode. According to The Counted, 211 people were killed by police in California during 2015, of those, 36 people were Black. How can the percentage of Black people killed by police be almost 20% when African Americans make up only 7% of California’s population? Nine of those 36 were completely unarmed. Let’s say their names:

  • Alvin Haynes
  • Brian Pickett
  • Charly ‘Africa’ Keunang
  • Brandon Glenn
  • Kris Jackson
  • Anthony Ashford
  • Rayshaun Cole
  • Nathaniel Pickett
  • Leroy Browning

You don’t know these names do you? You only know Mario Wood’s name because of the video taken by a bystander. You only know Tamir’s name because the police chose to release the video after extreme outcry by his family and outrage from the public. Is there police footage of these deaths? How many of these men will see justice? Likely none. Eight cases are still under investigation; some have been for over a year, and California police departments have zero requirement to update the public ever. This is what systemic racism looks like. This is the dream of justice deferred.

We can do better. SB 1286 will make California—better. It will not provide the radical revolutionary justice we crave. It will not divest in or abolish law enforcement and incarceration, nor will it tend to the real issues that cause “crime” and LEO involvement in the first place: Poverty, institutional racism, a culture created from—and currently based in—genocide of Black and brown peoples… It is a step toward transparency. It is a step toward accountability. It will provide the public with the needed information to take this fight to the street, to get and stay woke, to move in the path of freedom.

For more information about SB 1286, please contact:

Charlie Fredrick, Senior Organizer - cfredrick@aclunc.org

Chauncee Smith, Legislative Advocate - csmith@acluca.or

 

Upcoming BLM Event: Police Accountability

The Sacramento County Police Commission was created to increase the accountability of Sacramento PD to its citizens. How can this happen without the commission having oversight powers? Police do NOT police themselves, nor should they. The commission is made up of local citizens that have a stake in ending police brutality and the profiling of communities of color. Join BLM Sacramento to demand the commission be given more power to hold Sacramento PD accountable.

WHEN: Monday, April 11, 2016 from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM

WHERE: Samuel Pannell Meadowview Community Center – 2450 Meadowview Rd., Sacramento, CA 95832

Upcoming BLM Event: Intersections of the White Supremacist Capitalist Hetro-Patriarchy

THE WHOLE DAMN SYSTEM IS GULITY AS HELL. Yup. Gentrification IS colonization of Black communities. Black and brown people are killed by local law enforcement with zero transparency or accountability. Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department routinely displays inhumane and violent behavior towards its citizens, and the overtly racist sheriff himself is actually running for office. We STILL have no answers, accountability, or justice for Adriene Ludd. Homeless folks are being harassed, arrested, and brutalized by a highly militarized police force. Our mayor sexually assaults children with little repercussions. City officials silence those in opposition to the current madness through fascist tactics. This list goes on… But, we are here, we are everywhere, and we are taking on these structures one-by-one demanding justice—demanding liberation. Join us in this event co-hosted by local civil rights and economic justice group Answer. Live DJ. Speakers. Celebration. Revolution.

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WHEN: Tuesday, April 26, 2016 from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM

WHERE: Sacramento State Capitol – West Steps 10th Street between L and N

 

“We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”

—Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Rest In Power


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