About 200 people on Friday marched to San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo’s house, where they staged a sit-in outside to demand that he address police brutality in his own city and reallocate funding from law enforcement to community services.
Though the mayor was at City Council for a special hearing on policing, the demonstrators chanted, “Sam Liccardo! Come out! Sam Liccardo! Come out!”
As they waited for the mayor, a group of activists placed 17 white crosses, each with the name and photo of someone killed by San Jose police, on the sidewalk outside his house at Washington and 15th streets.
A line of protesters are heading to the Mayor's house for a sit-in demanding justice for loved ones lost to SJPD killings. pic.twitter.com/aOFpRRKoz5
— Kyle Martin (@Kyle_Martin35) June 13, 2020
The names of the fallen? Rudy Cardenas, Richard Harpo Jacquez, Jacob Dominguez, Antonio Guzman Lopez, Richard Lua, Isai Lopez, Jesus Geney Montes, Anthony Nuñez, Daniel Pham, Aaron James Phillips, Steve Salinas, Diana Showman, Cau Bich Tran, Phillip Watkins and Jennifer Vasquez.
— Kyle Martin (@Kyle_Martin35) June 13, 2020
The demands of the protesters? For the city to:
Allocate grant funds only accessible to black-led community organizations.
Provide funds for immediate and long term support for individuals and families impacted by police violence.
Allocate grant funds to brown and other low-income communities, prioritizing areas that are over policed and under resourced.
Fund the development of a new sector of first responders to directly respond to 911 calls for help. These responders should replace police as respondents in calls relating to, but not limited to, mental health, violence, sexual assault/gender-based violence and abuse, and substance abuse. These responders should be trained in de-escalation practices, transformative/restorative justice, and other ways of intentionally addressing the calls.
Fund long-term mental health resources.
Use the CARES Act funding to immediately relieve the rent of all those unable to pay their rent during shelter in place orders.
Provide long term funding to support San Jose’s housing needs and investment in San Jose’s community-led land trust.
Restore and increase funding for community parks and recreation spaces and programming.
Restore and increase funding for San Jose Public Library staffing and programming.
Though the mayor never showed up to his house, even after the sun set, activists shared their stories with reporters documenting the action.
Among the demonstrators was Sandy Sanchez, mother of the Anthony Nuñez who was 18 years old when police killed him on July 4, 2016. “This needs to stop,” Sanchez, 53, said of the city’s aggressive policing tactics.
The bereaved mother also derided Liccardo for distancing himself from local families most impacted by police violence. “He kneeled for the cameras,” she said of the mayor’s photo op outside City Hall earlier this month. “That’s fake to us.”
Raj Jayadev, founder of Silicon Valley De-Bug told the crowd that his group has been waiting for years for the city to acknowledge the human toll of militaristic, heavy-handed, fatal policing. “We have been in these streets holding lonely candlelit vigils,” he said.
After years of sparsely attended meetings and memorials with family members such as Sanchez and Laurie Valdez—whose partner, Anthony Guzman-Lopez was also killed by police in San Jose—the gatherings of late have been decidedly less lonely. They have also been newly energized with a sense of purpose.
“We’re not just defunding the police,” Jayadev told the crowd. “We are constructing our world in our image that we own. Look around and know that you’re not seeing fellow community members of San Jose, you’re not just seeing people that are fighting to defund police—you are looking in the eyes of people that are the answers to our prayers.”
Protesters listened to speeches from Sanchez, Valdez, Jayadev, other family members of fallen loved ones, including that of Jennifer Vasquez, who was killed by police on Christmas Eve last year. Valdez said she felt “disrespected” when Liccardo kneeled before protesters earlier this month without acknowledging the memory of her partner other lives lost to police violence in San Jose and the trauma inflicted on survivors.
“My son does not feel safe when he sees a cop come onto campus,” Valdez said of her child. “My son doesn’t feel safe when we’re driving and he sees a cop car. He panics.”
Dontae Lartigue, a 29-year-old San Jose resident, agreed that the mayor has seemed to distance himself from the people demanding change. “Today is really about getting some answers for the families, seeing if the mayor will be supporting us and the call to action and continuing to build community and unity and solidarity with all people in San Jose and Santa Clara County,” Lartigue said. “He has not empathized with these families.”
When Liccardo didn’t arrive to address protesters Friday evening, the group got up and marched west to City Hall, where the mayor had spent several hours discussing police use-of-force with his colleagues and from where (a day earlier) he recorded a video explaining why he opposes the call to defund police.
Tonight, I explain why defunding the police doesn’t work in San José (read on Medium: https://t.co/6NlUDQSCGG). My budget message calls for investments in equity—standing up an Office of Racial Equity + committing to a use of force review w/ the IPA. ▶️ https://t.co/3EXfeL7ES3. pic.twitter.com/hHcraSQm7N
— Sam Liccardo (@sliccardo) June 13, 2020