Dec 21, 2016 (San Diego) “The more things change, the more they remain the same.” This was not just a statement of fact, but a reality. San Diego Police released their data on traffic stops and none was surprised. The data revealed the same thing that another study revealed in 2001. There is a disparity of stops in minority communities south of the 8 when compared to the north
Reverend Shane Harris, president of the San Diego Chapter of the National Action Network, called for this press conference. It was to highlight two things. The first was the election of Myrtle Cole, as Council President, but also the makeup of the Committee on Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods that have oversight over the San Diego Police Department.
Not only did Myrtle Cole not remain in the Committee, but the makeup of the committee is now made Chris Cate, Barbara Bry. Lori Zapf, and the incoming Chris Ward. Not only are the two democrats in the committee new to the issues, and the Council, but three of the committee members serve districts completely north of the 8. The issues that affect communities south of the 8, including the racial profiling revealed by the report, are not part of their everyday lives. This is a slap in the face of the civil rights community and communites of color.
According to Harris Cole has abandoned her community, and is now concerned, like Tony Young, about feathering her nest, since she knows she will not be reelected in 2018 when she is going to be up for reelection. This is about money, paying back for her power, and nothing else. The concerns of the communities of color are nowhere in her priorities, and since she owes her position and power to the Republicans and the mayor, she will not rock any boats, including real oversight over the police.
Harris was very clear. “We are putting candidates to run against Myrtle Cole in 2018. She is not going to get away with this.” Harris also said that in 2018 both the Council presidency and her seat are on the line.
There is another thing that emerged during this press conference which is just as troubling. Civil Rights lawyers, such as Marc Kohnen, who is representing Robert Branch in the criminal case involving San Diego Sheriff’s Department retired detective Chris Ward, received all the discovery a month before the case goes to trial. A lot of that involves undercover police officers following him at public events, such as the church speech back in July. Before the presser started, he said this, and later he repeated some and he embedded the video of him, Bowser and Harris:
“civil minded individuals who attended rallies in support of Mr. Branch, in a church no less, come to find out, every word we said to be recorded by police.”
This is an attempt to silence speech and frighten lawyers. It is also reminiscent of the tactics used by the FBI in the 1960s during the whole of the Contrielpro program, which was an internal spy operation run by the FBI against civil rights, and peace activists during the 1960s when they did spy on among others, Reverend Martin Luther King. When Kohnen asked what else could they do? There were many tactics used in the 1960s, none were pleasant. So as Bowser said, “the more things change…”
Kohnen at one point compared this to the Gestapo or the secret police.
We also heard from Dan Gilleon speaking of the problems in the San Diego Police Department. He is representing several officers in upcoming cases against the city. In a nutshell, the department is punishing anybody who is trying to uncover the soft underbelly of the department. Officers have been transferred when they have not gone along, officers have perjured themselves under oath at court. Officers know that they will be protected if they do anything wrong. There is no supervision that is worth the word supervision within the department.
He said that what is happening to Kohnen, has happened to him in the past. He singled out the period when Chief William Lansdowne was in charge. He also said that cadets are taught to think of people like him, as scummy lawyers, that will do anything against the department. He has been singled out at the regional academy at Miramar College. He also raised another issue. Officers who talk will be transferred, humiliated and demoted Those who play along will be promoted and protected.
Speaking of Doctor King, Harris said that they intend to start their civil disobedience of Council President Cole at the upcoming Martin Luther King rally in San Diego. They are not going to make Cole’s life in City Council easy.
He also had a warning to the rest of the black church leaders, the older generation. That is that a new generation is coming.