City Hall Rally on Local Police Killings Leads to Policy Debate

Family members of San Jose men and women who were killed by local law enforcement stood in front of City Hall on Thursday afternoon. The song “A Change Is Gonna Come” played, while they held signs with black and white pictures of men and women, young and old, their hopes for these slain family members distilled in hashtags:

#JusticeforDianaShowman

#JusticeforAJPhillips

#JusticeforAnthonyNunes.

The rally drew a crowd of nearly a few dozen, as protesters called on San Jose’s elected officials to take a stand against local law enforcement killing people of color. Laurie Valdez, whose partner Antonio Guzman Lopez was shot by San Jose State University Police Department Sgt. Mike Santos in February 2014, led the demonstration.

“There’s no justice for any of our family members because they’re gone,” said Valdez, who called instead for justice for the next generation.

The protest was the result of ongoing grassroots efforts in San Jose to end police violence, and at some point Valdez read from a banner the names of approximately 30 people who had been killed by police in the city between 1970 and 2015. But the demonstration was carrying the message of the nationwide Black Lives Matter movement, fueled by the recent shootings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcoln Heights, Minnesota.

Throughout the protest, speakers underscored the need for greater transparency around complaints and investigations against officers. Independent Police Auditor Walter Katz took the mic first and urged citizens to file complaints about police misconduct with his office. The Independent Police Auditor, which is not part of SJPD, does not investigate complaints but instead provides objective review of the Police Department’s Internal Affairs investigations to determine if they are timely, thorough, fair and objective.

Because of the IPA’s independence,Katz told the audience, “if the Department uses force I won’t know about it until you file a complaint.”

“Has any officer ever been held accountable from your office’s investigations?” asked Cephus “Bobby” Johnson, the uncle of Oscar Grant.

Because the IPA does not directly investigate incidents, Katz explained, his office can’t take credit for officer discipline. But he said 7-10 percent of the IPA’s findings of misconduct are sustained each year.

Katz called on protesters who want greater transparency in investigations of police misconduct to fight a piece of legislation called the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights. The law makes confidential all police officer records, including discipline records, which can only be released by a judge in a criminal case or lawsuit.

“I don’t think that we should have to jump through all the hoops we have to jump through [to get officer discipline data],” said Jennifer Redding, a Santa Clara County public defender who also spoke.

Valdez seconded the sentiment, calling on the crowd to make themselves “a thorn in [City Hall’s] side” until there’s greater accountability.

“We’re not leaving until they see us here,” she cried. But by 6p.m., almost two hours into the protest, with workers streaming out of City Hall, no elected official had come out to acknowledge the protest.

That simple recognition would have gone a long way for Chandra Jacquez, whose father Richard “Harpo” Jacquez was shot by SJPD on Aug. 17, 2015.

Before the protest began she said she would have wanted elected officials or SJPD to “just reach out at least.” Instead, she feels her family’s outstanding questions about her father’s death have not been adequately answered.

Action from SJPD seems unlikely in the near future, however, in light of a statement from the San Jose Police Officers’ Association released on Jul. 17.

“When an organization only incites protests over officer involved incidents and does not display the same level of moral outrage or condemnation when a cop is innocently gunned down then we must question the legitimacy of that organization.”

Although the statement does not name Black Lives Matter, Joanne Segovia, the Association’s executive director confirmed in an email to San Jose Inside staff that it is the “organization” in question.

27 Comments

  1. No one is going to listen. No Information will now be available to the public on Police Misconduct unless you have standing to sue. If you file a complaint make sure you tell the whole truth or the POA will sue you. No body cam footage or car cam will be made public unless it absolutely clears an officer. If the camera records a Police Crime it will be reviewed by The Chief (maybe) but will be reviewed by City Hall, the City Attorney and the POA Defense Attorney, then they will fight you all the way up to the Supreme Court to prevent it’s release permanently. Or it will disappear as Recording Error.

    Now this is what Baton Rouge did and it’s what Dallas did and other States over the last few years. Well look what happened without any transparency but if its worth the price then hide the ball.

    • No one is going to listen you because you are just one disgusted old police officer who never tried to bring peace to SJ and just wanted to cheat the system for your own personal profit and never gave a damn about ANY LIVES MATTER.

      THE POA WILL NEVER SUE YOU, SO CONTINUE TO WRITE YOUR LIES

      • Thanks SJI for editing my original post to meet you needs. There was nothing in it to be changed that was offensive.

    • > “Nearly a few dozen”.

      Good catch.

      And a profound mathematical question.

      If one had a lottery ticket worth “nearly a few dozen” million dollars, how much tax would the IRS want?

      • “Nearly a few dozen” only if you count the minors, but they don’t vote.
        All this must be having some effect as cops are seen standing around as Trump supporter get beat up .
        No problem there only Republicans!

    • The report of the Blue Ribbon Commission of PhD Mathematicians is in:

      “Nearly a few dozen” equals eighteen.

  2. Slade,

    Did that photograph of assembled mutants remind you of some of your old mates at Emergency Psych Services?

  3. It’s nice to see that a few “people of color” can demonstrate peacefully.

  4. Laughable. San Jose residents are too consumed with 300 channels of Comcast, PokeMon go, and their beverage of choice to truly give a damn about anyone who has to interact with the police. The idea is not to ever get into a situation where you have to meet the police. It’s embarrassing if the government has to get into your life. These protesters may never understand this.

  5. Being very generous, and assuming 100 people showed up for this protest, that represents 0.000005% of the population of the valley, or in other words, 99.9999% of the population didn’t attend. Maybe they were at work or school, or managed to not get in trouble with the police.

  6. These protests are becoming an absolute joke. Every study and book coming out lately debunks all these myths of how blood thirsty cops go out daily looking for black people to murder in cold blood. Absolute BS and everyone knows it. Its a giant game that has consumed our PC paralyzed country. And now scum like Hillary are preying on these people for their vote. This billionaire wench could give a damn about any of them yet on election day they will cast their vote for a wallstreet connected criminal. Theres a reason why these are the same people that block roadways during midday, chain themselves to doorways and march while vandalizing until 2 am….. They dont work and they dont contribute to society.

  7. Can I go in front of city hall with my sign and get posted on SJI? Probably not, because I am a God fearing person who has never committed a crime, loves all race of any people, pay my taxes, and protest in my way by voting against those not worthy of leading our city, state or country. I honor our soldiers , police and emergency responders who sacrifice their lives to protect our rights and freedom of speech. And yet they are killed in the line of duty. I put a sign who I want to vote for on my front yard and it is stolen over night. GOD BLESS AMERICA.

    • What is the location depicted in the Lindsey Smith Twitter account? I want to at least visit there.

      • JMO:

        It’s Naples, Italy

        Mt. Vesuvius in the distance. Herculaneum on the lower slope of Vesuvius on the edge of the water. Pompeii off to the right, out of the picture.

        I spent some time there in the Naval Service.

        Looks better from a distance than it does up close.

        Italians have a saying: “Africa begins at Naples”. The practice of “civilization” is a bit sketchy.

  8. “Valdez read from a banner the names of approximately 30 people who had been killed by police in the city between 1970 and 2015″– 45 YEARS. . Approximately 30? Is that the same math as a dozen adults and half a dozen kids being called nearly a few dozen? Anyway, 30 black men shoot to death 30 other black men on a WEEKEND in South Side Chicago. When will BLM go after that crowd?