Oct 25, 2016 (El Cajon) One issue dominated the meeting General Comment section of the City of El Cajon Council Meeting. This was a demand for justice for Alfred Olango, which activists, such as Quis, Ebonay Lee, and Anthony Jimenez will only be accomplished when Officer Richard Gonsalves faces the justice system.
There is one large point before I quote some of the speakers. Almost every speaker on this matter stated that they are residents of the City of El Cajon, a few also pointed out that they are taxpayers in the city of El Cajon. I can only speculate why they feel they need to do that, but given plenty of the comments I have seen on social media, accusing them of being outside agitators is probably why. It is a sad fact that they need to speak about this. It should be implied that if you speak to your extremely local body, either you live there, or you are affected by something there.
Teegan Daniels used part of her allotted time to dedicate it to a moment of silence for Olango. “When Alfred was killed, sorry I mean murdered, he was number 855 unarmed people killed by law enforcement in 20016 alone.” The number now stands at 1208 people who have died at the hands of law enforcement. Daniels pointed out that there have been no convictions. The problem is a lack of accountability.
“I want to know what you guys in City Council are going to do about this issue.” She then mentioned the statistics she learned off at the City Heights event on Saturday. Such as one man shot 40 times, another 27 (that would be Sergio Daniel Weick, who died in 2015 in Vista.) Daniels said this was overkill, no matter what they did.
“What is this city going to do about Richard Gonsalves? Why is he on paid leave? Why was he even able to be on the field with not one, but two sexual harassment lawsuits from female police officers? If he felt comfortable enough to send inappropriate pictures to female law enforcement, imagine what he could feel comfortable doing to citizens who are too scared to say anything?”
Lee started by stating her observations. “What we are seeing right now from the El Cajon City Police Department is not a surprise. The racism, the hatred that they have for the black and the brown, has been going on for my entire existence in El Cajon.” Lee then played a video of an El Cajon officer saying that he would continue to kill the people in El Cajon. Here is the video for you to watch.
Incidentally, while she started to play it, Mayor Bill Wells seemed very uncomfortable and what he said is unintelligible on tape, but she played it. Then Lee asked the obvious question: “This is an officer of the El Cajon Police Department. I do not understand how come he was not investigated. He spoke the truth. They are not going to stop killing us.”
Then she went into some demands. Some are very familiar, and others are not outside of El Cajon. They are as follows:
The indictment of Officer Richard Gonsalves for second-degree murder.
They are also asking for an independent Department of Justice investigation into this shooting death. There is no trust in the District Attorney investigation led by Bonnie Dumanis.
They want an end to the harassment by El Cajon Police Officers. Quis also pointed out that there needs to be a stop to the limits to their free speech rights. They feel that the harassment is meant to intimidate and stop them from exercising their rights, as afforded by the US Constitution.
A Citizens Review Board of Police Conduct, which incidentally was recommended by the Grand Jury but voted down by the council. As Lee pointed out, nobody asked them, when city leaders decided it would not help the citizens of El Cajon. This rejection happened 3 weeks before the death of Alfred Olango.
Lee also wants to be treated with the same respect members of the city council are treated or for that matter the city manager. This was a common theme.
Pastor Russell Bowman also spoke to the Council. He is a community leader and as a resident of the city of El Cajon. He read the mission statement of the police department. The mission statement reads as follows: ““Committed to a safe and secure community through service, mutual cooperation, and respect.”
Bowman stated that as of right now that statement is not being followed. He relayed how last week while standing on the pavement the police helicopter declared it an unlawful assembly. He added, “police stated pushing on clergy, who was talking with young people.” He did witness several arrests.
Bowman stated that if the mission statement “ties to what happened on Monday, then Mr. Mayor that is your problem.” He also pointed to another problem, which we have observed. While the Mayor has met with people, he has yet to meet with those who have been on the front lines or are community leaders in the African American community.
Anthony Jimenez started with the same theme, “I am a black man who grew up in El Cajon for 26 years. I am also very aware that racism is nothing new. Growing up my wife was aware of the issues in El Cajon and was afraid to go outside and play.” So when he is told that Olango’s death had to note to with him being black, well he does not believe it.
“Our community has been desensitized.” And he added that people justify his death but forget that he was a brother, a father, a son, a cousin, a human being.
There was a total of 12 speakers. People asked many similar questions and relayed similar observations.
Now a personal note. I have attended the El Cajon City Council meeting over the years, and I have seen the Chief of Police, especially since Chief Jeff Davis took over. He is a regular. Every so often he shows up with some of the brass, and maybe an officer. Today there were inside at least 7 officers, if not more. Outside there were more officers, two of them, a couple of lieutenants and a sergeant. Also from uniform insignia, at least two were from traffic division, a good day to speed I suppose. This heavy-handed presence of uniformed personnel was meant to intimidate. Lee pointed to it when she made the comment of officers who aimed weapons at them in the streets. She was not alone. Others did as well, among them Quis. These were some of the same officers in chambers.
We are including photos in the gallery. They are all from inside the chamber.