Most in Davis this summer find ways to escape the heat in the comfort of the air conditioned homes, the cool of the pool, or the leisure of a well-time vacation. For some of us though, this summer has ushered in dark times and dark events in the second-most-educated city in the country.
For the last year, a movement has been growing in the city of Davis. People of color, the few that there are in Davis, have been speaking out, coming out, and calling out for help. Numerous stories of police abuse and misconduct have arisen in the media, even more have been held just outside of the limelight of the Davis Enterprise, the guardians of the order and the status quo.
This confrontation reached a flashpoint in April and May of this year, as the establishment struck back. A 16-year-old girl was arrested for a hit-and-run bumper-bender in a Safeway parking lot in June of 2005. The family has accused Davis Police Officer Pheng Ly of various violations of state and federal law in addition to violations of Davis Police Department procedure. The family spent over $100,000 defending their daughter from criminal charges brought forth by the District Attorney’s office. Finally, April, it seemed over, the judge dismissed the charges.
In effect, what the judge is purported to have said, is that in juvenile cases, when a civil settlement is reached, the state’s interest ends and the case is considered closed. This is per the official policy of the City of Davis, a policy that encourages parties to settle things civilly rather than criminally. In a small damage, no injury case such as this one it makes sense.
So why did the DA bring charges? According to the family, the DA brought charges because the family was planning to sue the city. Deputy DA Patti Fong said this to Judge Warriner in court–multiple times. The family has now filed suit against the Davis Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office.
Where this case turns bizarre is that once the Judge dismissed the charges, the DA’s office and in particular Patti Fong, released private tapes of the juvenile affair into the press. The Davis Enterprise posted the tapes containing very private information about the family and also the victim in this, Ms. Wonhoff. Columnist Bob Dunning, published for weeks about the mistreatment of Officer Ly. Editor Debbie Davis proclaimed that Officer Ly was “doing his job and doing it well.” And Mayor Ruth Asmundson apologized to Officer Ly on behalf of the city and later said that the 16-year-old learned her lesson.
The story gets more bizarre, as right after the city council elections, the Police Chief resigns and blames the Human Relations Commission and specifically the Chair for creating a climate of intolerance. The lame-duck Davis City Council then acts on this, and dismisses the Human Relations Commission. The Human Relations Commission acted as the only body that people of color could come to, to air their grievances with their treatment.
Now the ruling cabal of the Davis City Council–led by Don Saylor and including Stephen Souza and Ruth Asmundson, have conspired to rob Sue Greenwald of her rightful place as Mayor of Davis. There were rumors for weeks that they would refuse to seat her altogether. Then there were rumors that they’d give her a month and then proclaim her out of control and ineffective. They might just completely ignore her, and name whomever they want to whatever committees they want, and effectively rule the city with a 3-2 majority.
Watching this unfold last week, I realize I must act. This blog will be the voice of truth for the City of Davis. This blog will expose the lies and deceptions whether they come from the City Council, the Davis Police Department, the DA’s Office, or the City Manager. This blog will be the source of hard-hitting reporting and news that you will not get from the Davis Enterprise.
—-Doug Paul Davis reporting