Tuesday was glorious at the Board of Supervisor’s meeting, best holiday gift of the season! Watching the arrogant face of Sheriff Scott Jones as he listened to community member after community member wholeheartedly discredit him for refusing ANY oversight of the Sacramento Sheriff’s department, and then have the Board UNANIMOUSLY vote against him to strengthen the Inspector General’s independent oversight of officer involved shootings and in-custody deaths was a triumph—an incredibly vital one. We treasure these moments, we must, because “speaking truth to power” in institutions of white supremacy typically leaves us winded. Our glee is tempered, though, with the larger understanding that “oversight” is always AFTER people have already been killed, after the trauma is inflicted both on the individual and disproportionally on Black and Brown Sacramento communities. Oversight is harm reduction, and while we are wildly here for pompous, fascist, racist sheriffs getting checked up one side and down the other, bottom line, we’d rather no sheriffs at all. Our greater path is abolition.
On 11/30/2018, as I was rushing to another cop-watching situation, this time near Meadowview, I thought about Dazion Flenaugh. I always do. What if the community had already been informed about the dangers of calling Sac PD on a Black man experiencing mental health issues? What if they could have called mental health workers out to support him instead of police? What if officer Fong was being filmed and never humiliated Dazion or locked him in the back of a police car illegally? What if he instead was given water, his mother called, and de-escalation support was given? Would he still have panicked? Would he still have run? I don’t think so. Abolition is not simply lack of police, it is meeting the needs of our own communities without the use of violence or terror. Healthy communities don’t need police.
When I arrived at the scene of the police chase, I was greeted by dozens of police cars and officers on foot. They were looking for a Black man who had been in a car accident with no reason to believe he had a gun, but they had theirs drawn. Less lethal force wasn’t considered until the BLM Sacramento founder asked a Sargent on film why they weren’t following their own protocol. The events could have unfolded with another Black body falling to the ground, shot with their bullets and the myth of the dangerousness of his skin. As the young man was taken in, I could hear him answer the question of why he ran— “Because I was scared.”
We can’t wait for the next death to get active and in the streets—especially when we are so hard pressed by childishly resistant law enforcement and an overall criminal justice system designed to uphold racial and economic inequities. One with little transparency and ZERO accountability. Our communities are hurting right now. As housing costs skyrocket and neighborhoods crumble with gentrification, there will inevitably be ever more people in distress. All of Sacramento is in crisis and law enforcement’s primary response is a 9-millimeter.
BLM Sacramento encourages you to come to the monthly Abolish and Rebuild meetings where community members work together to create alternatives to the police. The CopWatch group directly supports people being detained by police by providing officers with the film accountably that our DA Schubert refuses to give them in court. When LEOs understand that they are being watched by people who are trained, they behave better. The Disability Justice group supports CopWatch and the larger community by providing mental health training, support, and crisis response. The De-escalation, Education, and Family Support groups similarly address community problems with community solutions that don’t end in bullets or jail cells.
We need you, and with the way things are going in Sacramento, you need us—because it isn’t just Dazion.
Today * 12/10 * 11am
Fri * 12/14 * 7pm
Sun * 12/30 * 9pm