Welcome to another episode of the AccessLocal.Tv Podcast. On this show, the Neighborhood News Correspondents are talking the practice of having police officers on public school campuses. Their comments and opinions may surprise you! Feel free to chime in with your thoughts on the discussion in the comment section below!
Traffic safety is an ongoing concern in Sacramento, and even more so in the aging original suburbs just outside of the city core. On May 24th, an as-yet-unidentified woman in a wheelchair was killed in a hit-and-run on Stockton Boulevard. Police responded to the incident that morning by closing off Stockton Boulevard between Fruitridge Road and Lawrence Drive. No vehicles were allowed to pass between that part of the roadway for awhile. The Sacramento Police Department’s Major Crimes Unit investigated the scene but no official conclusions have been made as of yet.
“Our officers responded and the female was already deceased,” said Officer Linda Matthew. “It appears that she was in the southbound lanes of Stockton Boulevard in a wheelchair.”
The roadway was reopened at around 7:30 AM but investigators were unsure as to whether the woman in the wheelchair was in the car lane or in the bicycle lane before the fatal crash. As of Thursday morning, the investigators did not have a description of the vehicle or driver.
In January 2012, a 16-year old student of West Campus High School, Michelle Murigi, was fatally hit by a vehicle while on a crosswalk at Fruitridge Road and this prompted many area residents to demand a solution from local officials. In May 2014, the City of Sacramento and the Sacramento City Unified School District installed traffic signals at 58th St and Fruitridge Road. How will local officials respond to the death of the latest victim of traffic?
“This incident has led me to believe our traffic safety isn’t as safe as some may find it,” said Harold Coleman, a resident of South Sacramento. “You have to question the driver for their actions but overall the event is shocking and horrible. Our traffic safety needs to be in check and the woman’s family deserves the justice of finding the person that killed her.”
If you have any information concerning the incident, you can call the Sacramento Police Department’s non-emergency line at (916) 264-5471.
Many people believe that laws exist in society in order to keep its citizens safe. When a person commits a crime, they should be penalized accordingly. However, there are some that are questioning if punishment is the appropriate way to keep people safe. After all, if the punishment cripples a person’s ability to return to being a productive citizen, is it really the best option?
According to the Los Angeles Times, community reinvestment is the key to reducing crime and violence. Instead of locking up the people who break the law, they are assigned projects or summer jobs to improve their community.
“Indeed, there is now sufficient evidence to support an entirely new model for countering violence — one driven by investment,” said Professor Patrick Sharkley, the writer of the article Community investment, not punishment, is key to reducing violence.
In Sacramento, organizations such as the California Endowment encourage restorative actions rather than punishment. One reason to choose reinvestment is the much lower cost. According to the New York Times, the average cost of locking up one inmate annually is $168,000, The prison population of California in 2015 was 112,300 people. According to the Orange County Register, California could save half a billion dollars by introducing new rehabilitation programs for inmates and ex-convicts.
In the Sacramento City Unified School District, there are some educators who hold similar views. Often, the teachers and school administrators have to strike the balance between restorative programs and punishment.
“I definitely think that the balance should tip in the favor of, restorative, reinvestment, supportive, as opposed to punishment,” said David Van Natten, Principal of John F. Kennedy High School. “Particularly in the context of school, sometimes a consequence is appropriate but that it’s a much better learning experience and it’s more likely result in long-term change if there is a restorative component.”
The American prison system has become one of the largest in the world. It is up to the people to decide what happens next.
Clear communication between law enforcements and the community is what many cities aim at accomplishing. That’s why on August 31st, Sacramento Police Chief Daniel Hahn and Sacramento City Councilmember Steve Hansen attended a community forum with other community activists. The meeting was called “Law and Order: In the Trump Era” and its purpose was to have a discussion about how President Trump has affected the criminal justice system. The meeting also sought to address the tensions between the police and the members of the community.
“The only people who have the power to use the law to hurt you…is really the people using the police power…and that is a very sacred duty that should not be abused,” said Councilmember Steve Hansen. “In the end, we cannot let them be the front line of solving social issues because that is never going to be an answer…and I think it’s unfair for those folk [the police] to put that on them.”
Some of the speaking points during the meeting included homelessness, racism in the police department, and the responsibility of elected officials. Steve Hansen dove into the subject of community distrust of the police and how that has affected the criminal justice system. The Councilmember argued that the police cannot be the one handling everything and the community distrust of the department is only making their job harder.
“When you think about this Sacramento, this California you say, this diverse place they like to say, a place of multiculturalism. Black folk have nothing here,” said Berry Accius, CEO Voice of the Youth.
Statements like that and others caused the meeting to take a turn, getting more intense with its discussion about race and criminal justice. However, the meeting ended on a lighter note with all the speakers standing together in unison agreeing to work together to make Sacramento a better place.
On August 12th, the National Lawyers Guild of Sacramento held a lecture which focused mainly on what to do if you had any type of interaction with the police in public. The NLG brought in about a group of around 16 people to come and ask questions and learn about what do when a police officer stops you.
Many people shared their experiences and interactions that they’ve had with police and asked what they could’ve done instead in that situation. The NLG gave several points about what to do when a police officer approaches you.
“You do not have to show ID unless you are driving a motorized vehicle,” said the National Lawyers Guild representative when asked about showing ID to officers. “If officers try to speak to you, do not answer any questions. Anything you say can and will be used against you.”
NLG continued to speak about their very own experiences and how they’ve managed to get by. As the lecture went on, people talked about what they could do if they were at a rally. They even went into detail about tactics you could use such as picketing, sitting down, not yelling or swearing at police and video recording.
“If you are stopped, ask if you are being detained,” said the National Lawyers Guild representative. “If the police detain you, use the magic words to every officer who talks to you; I am going to remain silent I want to see a lawyer. You do not have to reveal your immigration status.”
As the lecture wrapped up, participants were given the opportunity to be put on an email list with details on what to do when police stop you. Also, the participants were given a paper with an overview of what was discussed.
If you need their services, you can contact the National Lawyers Guild at NLGsacramento@gmail.com or at 916/500-4NLG(654)
“Links to Law Enforcement” by La Familia is an event that will go from the 1st of March all the way to April 5th. It will be held at La Familia’s Maple Neighborhood Center which is on 37th Ave in Sacramento.
La Familia is an organization that provides multicultural counseling along with services of support for low-income and at-risk youth and their families in Sacramento. For over 40 years, has provided these services that are all completely free with a totally bilingual staff. Their mission is to improve the quality of youth and their families by providing these services and providing programs that aim to help families to become empowered and succeed.
The Links to Law Enforcement event is a six session event that empowers young people and encourages them to participate in all things law enforcement in Sacramento. This is in effort to have the youth participate to diversify the law enforcement including the California Highway patrol and local sheriff agencies.
This event is likely in response to the police department not being racially diverse as the communities they serve. In Sacramento, the police department is dominantly 72% white while the community is only 36% white. While the rest being 14% black, 25% latino, and 25% other.
“This event has been happening for a long time in Sacramento, and we’re very proud of it,” said Ramon Guitart with La Familia when asked about the event. “These programs, especially from La Familia, help out families and youth and their communities.”
For more information on this upcoming event and what they do please click here.
This coming Wednesday, March 8th, from 6 pm to 9 pm, Sacramento activists are going to have a screening of Ava DuVernay’s “13th”, a documentary about the history and current criminalization of the black community. It will be at Sol Collective on 2574 21st street in Sacramento.
The community is coming together to do a screening and discussion of the documentary 13th. Pizza, spicy popcorn, and drinks will be available. If you want to know more about the event and time, look here for the Facebook event page.
“All of a sudden, a scythe went through our black communities,” Pat Nolan of Prison Fellowship said in 13th. “Literally cutting off men from their families. Literally huge chunks just disappearing into our prisons, and for a really long time.”
Criminalization of African Americans began once they got their freedom, and was amplified by the film The Birth of a Nation. African Americans were lynched and murdered by mobs between reconstruction and World War II.
“The demographic geography was shaped by that area,” Bryan Stevens of Found, Equal Justice Initiative said in the documentary 13th. “We have African Americans in Los Angeles, Oakland, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Boston, New York, and very few people appreciate that the African Americans in those communities did not go there as immigrants looking for economic opportunities, they went there as refugees from terror.”
Once mob lynching became unacceptable, African Americans civil rights activists were portrayed as criminals for breaking segregation laws. The civil rights act and voting right act finally turned things around for African Americans.
Around the time the civil rights movement was gaining popularity, crime rates were beginning to rise in this country. The baby boom generation was reaching adulthood by this time, however, politicians were quick to put the blame on the African Americans. Nixon started to crack down hard on drugs and crime, calling it the War on Crime.
“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon white house after that had two enemies: the anti-war left, and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black…” John Ehrlichman, Nixon adviser said. “But by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities… we could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
This set the future for America, cracking down on crime and drugs. The Three Strikes You’re Out Law also increased the sentence for people who were incarcerated. With these harsher and longer sentences for people, one would imagine that all races would be incarcerated more, however, 1 in 17 white males have a likelihood of being imprisoned within their lifetime. 1 in 17 is a lot less likely of being incarcerated than the statistic for the black community, which is 1 in 3 being imprisoned within their lifetime.
Watch 13th on the 8th of March to get more details about criminalization of the black community.
Last Saturday, California State University, Sacramento hosted the 21st Annual Multicultural Education Conference, with venues and lectures on a wide range of topics. One subject in particular caught the attention of Shelby Moffatt, lecturer at Sacramento State’s Department of Health and Human Services. For Moffatt, having more minorities and “at-risk” youth in the Criminal Justice field is an important step in preventing police brutality against men and women of color, and helping students achieve their goals.
Moffatt, a retired Sacramento police officer, wanted to take a closer look at why black, Hispanic, and other minority students are not pursuing careers in criminal justice nearly as much as their white classmates.
“They’ll say all the time, ‘We’re doing our best,’ but they’re still not hiring them,” the lecturer said, referring to at-risk youth who are overlooked by law enforcement recruiters.
His findings revealed that there is a nationwide disparity among racial and ethnic minorities when it comes to poverty, education, and incarceration. Moffatt decided to delve deeper into the root causes and finer details into why this is the case.
One example discussed in the lecture is the fact that in many high schools, criminal justice courses are counted as electives, which means that there is often a lack of engagement among teachers and students, and such courses aren’t taken that seriously.
The retired officer also pointed out the need for at-risk youth to have a mentor in their life, whoever that may be.
“They need someone to guide them,” Moffatt told the audience. “…no matter what it is, they still need someone to guide them toward whatever goal, and sometimes, you as a young person may not know what that goal is.”
Later, Moffatt discussed the prevalence of biases in day-to-day life, biases many might not even be aware of.
“How many of you are racist? Raise your hand,” he said jokingly to the audience, demonstrating that, without accusing anyone in the audience, often people who wouldn’t consider themselves to be racists still carry biases with them.
Going further, he also touched on the apathy that many exhibit in response to acts of prejudice. He asked the audience to think about a time when they may have witnessed an injustice, and to think about whether they stepped in or turned a blind eye. In Moffatt’s view, indifference to racism, sexism, etc. is morally equivalent to the prejudice itself.
According to Moffatt, institutional biases like nepotism, politics are also to blame for the state of the law enforcement profession in the US. The odds of making a career out criminal justice depend more on “who you know, not what you know,” based on Moffatt’s findings.
Conversations like this happened all across Sacramento State’s University Union in Saturday, all with the goal of illuminating racial and cultural issues that may be overlooked by those not personally affected. But for Shelby Moffatt, diversity in the criminal justice field can help the whole community, and more needs to be done at every level to make that happen.
“If we were only choosing the ‘best and the brightest’… you wouldn’t see officers raping women, beating people, shooting, assaulting, etc., he explained. “If these are the best then we’re in trouble.”
Produced by AccessLocal.Tv’s Neighborhood News Correspondents, this is sacposé, a new youth-produced podcast which looks into Sacramento’s highs and lows.
This week on sacposé, the Neighborhood News Correspondents ask one another why some neighborhoods are seemingly written off by the police as “unfixable”, while other neighborhoods receive overwhelming police support. Take a listen and then share your comments in the space below.
Mark your calendars! Access Sacramento Game of the Week will broadcast the 1st “LIVE” Guns & HosesAnnual Charity Football Game, Hogs vs. Dogs on Saturday, January 26, 2013 at 1pm on Comcast and Surewest Cable Channel 17 and AT&T U-verse cable channel 99.
The game pits law enforcement *HOGS* against the fire service *DOGS*. Players, whose day jobs provide protection for the people of our community practice in the cold mornings, put up with the aches and pains of getting into “football” shape in hopes that the public turns out for this fantastic event and raise money for local nonprofits. The 39th game will be played at University of Sacramento- Sac State. More information go to www.pigbowl.com.