…But There’s No Racism in Davis

Davis Police Car

Unfortunately it seems that police incidents bring out the ugly side of human nature.  I still remember the letter written in the spring of 2006 in the Enterprise that suggested that my wife and Jann Murray-Garcia “move to Johannesburg, South Africa,” if they want complain about racial incidents in Davis.

Last night, attorney Mark Reichel received a racist voicemail from a woman from a 916 number claiming to be a Davis resident, and the Vanguard received one at 12:30 am this morning.  The woman didn’t even have the sense to block her number before leaving the rant.

The minute and a half call to Mr. Reichel stated:

“Yeah, I’m a citizen of Davis and I know the officers that were involved in the Davis Picnic (Day) incident.  If your client didn’t stay out of the frickin’ road, he wouldn’t have almost got hit.  Plus that woman that he helped save, well she attacked the officer, she hit him in the head with her fists – so what the hell was he supposed to do?

“I’ve met these officers and you know what, people from Picnic Day would be fine if black people and gang members would stay out of Davis – it would be fine.  Even talking to police, and UC Davis police, everything was fine, there would be a couple of drunk college students.  The most trouble we have is when people come from other cities – people from other cities need to stay the hell out of Davis – then we wouldn’t have this problem.

“I hope your guys go to jail because you don’t attack an officer – if they didn’t want to get hurt, they should have stayed the hell out of the road – that’s how ignorant these stupid niggers are – they need to just (stay) out of the road and they wouldn’t have to worry about the problem.

“Plus your client had ammunition in his pocket, so what do you have to say about that?  I hope those guys go to jail for the rest of their lives – because you do not touch a Davis police officer.  And the woman hit the officer in the head – he’s not going to just grab them.

“So get a life, I know you just want to get money, you ambulance chaser.”

Five hours later she was calling the Vanguard

“I’m a concerned citizen, I read your trash and your comments about the Davis Police Department regarding Picnic Day.  I just met these officers, you don’t know what happened.

“From the pictures, normal people don’t wear vests.  If those people didn’t get the hell out of the way, they should have been run over.  That Perry guy, why would he run away if he didn’t have anything to hide.  Plus he had ammunition in his backpack.  Most people don’t carry around ammunition.

“Plus that girl – she hit the guy in the head, what else should he do, let (her) keep hitting you?  Nobody from Davis got arrested for intoxication – we had no trouble with the citizens of Davis until losers from other towns come in and cause trouble.

“Davis isn’t usually a problem.  When ignorant stupid assholes from West Sacramento, Vacaville and other cities come into our town and cause trouble…

“If you look at the stabbings and problems in Davis – it’s all because of people who (don’t) live here.  They need to stay the hell out of our town.

“Some of these graduates from UC Davis are pretty stupid.  Why would anyone pay for your piece of crap – get your facts straight before you criticize Davis Police Department.   I sure as hell if I were you wouldn’t want to need to them to have to come.

“Going on a ridealong you find out how they deal with these losers coming in from other towns.  Before you write crap on your stupid website you need to look into things before you think… There’s no complaints against the Bellamy brothers, I don’t know where you came up with that.  You need to check the facts before you write this shit, because none of its true.

“Check your facts before you write about officers doing their job.  People from other cities need to stay out of our city, otherwise we wouldn’t have any problems.  Check your sources because Davis police department does their job well.”

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Keith O

    This is about a stop between some officers and a crowd that escalated badly, it had nothing to do with racism.  This article is about one fool who acted stupidly.  There Will always be fools.

  2. Tia Will

     I sure as hell if I were you wouldn’t want to need to them to have to come.”

    So my first thought on reading this rant including the portions that have no discernible meaning is that it may have been alcohol or drug fueled. However, before it is dismissed out of hand, or characterized as a “bad apple”, I do think that there are two points that are worth addressing.

    1. The concept that outsiders are the cause of our problems and that we ourselves cause no problems. While it is factually not true ( we have had serious crimes committed by Davis residents and those from surrounding communities), this idea seems to have gained a lot of traction nationally. I do not see much of this on the local level, but it is still worthy of challenging due to its pernicious effects when the concept does take hold.

    2. While this individual’s racism is plainly visible in her words, I do not believe that this blatant racism is prevalent in our police or our community. Unfortunately, what I do believe is prevalent is disparate treatment. I recently wrote a brief piece contrasting how I am treated as an older white female, with the treatment of young, minority, male members of our community.

    This kind of disparate treatment is so woven into the fabric of our society that those of us in the privileged ( or unhassled) group could live our entire lives without even realizing that it exists. Before objecting in knee jerk fashion to the type of reporting that David provides, it might be a good idea to look at whether or not our perception of police and other interactions is accurate only for ourselves, or whether it is accurate for every person in our city.

    1. David Greenwald

      My view is while the overt use of racist language is rare, the bulk of her message is stuff I have heard over and over again since the incident came to light.

  3. PhilColeman

    “But there’s no racism in Davis . . . ”

    Two phone calls were made to persons with a well chronicled personal and professional investment in the outcome of this incident. The idiot phone caller, being well aware of that, contacted these persons for a reason.

    We have no idea of the identity, mental capacity, sobriety, or residence of the caller. No matter, she’s quickly depicted in this follow-up story as somehow being representative of the racial standards of Davis. One person has been anointed as being the racial tolerance standard for Davis. She’s probably delighted.

    The idiot didn’t call you or me. She wanted her race-baiting comments publicized, knowing the persons she called have no reluctance to pass on for publication any received comments that are provocative and aid their own agenda.  A peculiar temporary alliance of three succeeded in a common objective, fan the flames, keep this story alive, toss in the race card.

    The racist is happy. And her messengers did exactly what she wanted them to do, while themselves remaining in the public limelight. But there was a cost. An investigation yet to be started, and already condemned, is further tainted by the public injection of racism. A potential jury pool is compromised. And the rest of us again feel the compulsion to beat-up ourselves and each other while wearing the suspected mantle of “racist.”




    1. Alan Miller

      And the rest of us again feel the compulsion to beat-up ourselves and each other while wearing the suspected mantle of “racist.”

      Nope.  No compulsion here.

    1. Jim Hoch


      If the Vanguard wants to dive further into hate mongering why don’t they start with the piece in the Enterprise comparing the Obama’s to “jabbering apes” rather than some anonymous phone call?

  4. Tia Will


    The racist is happy. And her messengers did exactly what she wanted them to do”

    I think that you have fallen into the same trap that you believe that David is in. As you correctly pointed out, we know essentially nothing about this individual including “identity, mental capacity, sobriety, or residence of the caller”. I would suggest that this also means that we know nothing about intent and whether or not the individual is “happy” with the outcome. We simply do not know, which makes it easy to overlay the conversation with our own world view. 

      1. Tia Will

        OK Keith

        Maybe not an identical trap, just a similar mindset that leads to forming conclusions based on essentially no data while commenting on the fact that others have done the same.

  5. Ron

    Tia:  “The concept that outsiders are the cause of our problems and that we ourselves cause no problems. While it is factually not true ( we have had serious crimes committed by Davis residents and those from surrounding communities), this idea seems to have gained a lot of traction nationally. I do not see much of this on the local level, but it is still worthy of challenging due to its pernicious effects when the concept does take hold.”

    It’s not factually true, that a disproportionate share of serious problems are caused by those coming into town (whatever their skin color happens to be)?  (Generally young people, it seems.)

    The guy speeding down 2nd Street, killing a woman?  KetMoRee?  (Probably others I’m not thinking of?)

    On a (somewhat) related note, why is “racism” only discussed in terms of (only) what “white people do”?  I’ve heard this crap my entire life (while simultaneously experiencing verbal and physical attacks apparently based on the color of my skin). (Not in Davis.)

    If there’s ever an honest discussion on the entire subject, I’d be interested (and simultaneously shocked).

    1. David Greenwald

      Daniel Marsh?  Lauren Kirk-Coehlo?  To name a few counter examples.

      I think we have to acknowledge that we are a town of outsiders with the university and the international program.

      I see that as the broader issue that is getting lost in people trying to be dismissive of this single example.

      1. Ron

        I suspect that those attending UCD (and those they associate with) are (as a group) not causing a disproportionate share of problems.  Entrance into UCD requires serious dedication, and is fundamentally different than someone from a surrounding community coming into town with no connection to UCD looking to “party”.  (Yes, I realize that not everyone coming into town for that purpose causes problems.)

        I also realize that I do not have statistics, showing a disproportionate share of problems caused by the latter group. Perhaps it’s my own bias, since I note whether or not someone is from the city when there’s a serious problem reported. (But, it “seems” from my perspective to occur fairly regularly.)

      2. Howard P

        Gee… guess I missed the part about how racism played a role in a So Davis double homicide… that was a somewhat gratuitous (sick?) comparison, Mr Greenwald…

        1. Ron

          David:  That’s correct.

          I guess that if one starts comparing problems caused by “outsiders”, vs. those caused by someone living in the city or on campus it can inevitably lead to allegations of racism.  (Especially since Davis is overwhelmingly Caucasian and perhaps Asian.)  Some of the surrounding communities are probably more integrated.  (Until you get to Roseville, Lincoln, Folsom, etc.)

          But hey – there’s no racism in our society!  🙂

          I wonder if it will always be part of the human condition, or if it’s something that’s more/less “learned”. (Seems like very young children don’t have it in them.)

        2. Keith O

          Ha!   (Actually, I’m not sure of the percentages.)

          I don’t know the actual percentages either but next time you go downtown or anywhere in Davis take a look around.

        3. Ron


          Now that I’m reflecting on this a little more, I’d have to acknowledge that I tend to notice it more, when I see someone who is African-American, in Davis.  Not sure what that says about me.  I don’t seem to notice other nationalities.  (And, there appears to be so few African-Americans.)

          Unless I’m alone in that, I suspect that African-Americans might indeed feel uncomfortable at times, in Davis. And, that’s truly unfortunate. I’d like to hear more about that experience, directly.

        4. Alan Miller

          My sister was very involved in African American rights (wasn’t called that) in the late 60’s early 70’s in Davis.  One of her friends who started before her said he was one of the seven (7) African Americans on campus in the mid-60’s.

    2. Tia Will


      Please note that you substantially changed the content of my post. I stated that it was factually untrue that we do not cause any of our own problems. You brought up the idea of proportionality. The alleged rape by the RR tracks a few years back was by a UCD student. Marsh and Talmontes murders were both committed by Davis residents. Partida beating was committed by a Davis resident. I am sure that we can both cite multiple instances to “prove our point”. The only thing that I want to be clear on is that I said nothing at all about proportionality. My claim was that her statement was not accurate as quoted and I will stand by that.

      1. Ron

        Tia:  My apologies.  Yes, I took it and “ran with it” (added to it).

        I’m not sure that I’m actually trying to “prove a point”, other than the fact that racism (or whatever word should be used) is not the exclusive domain of one particular skin color.


      1. PhilColeman

        There’s really no point in giving that tragic soul who made those calls any more of our attention. Her value system is isolated and in no way reflective of the Davis culture overall. That, I’m certain about. She’s beyond reason or redemption, I’m certain of that as well having had past exposure to persons of that ilk.

        What might be useful for further discussion is the lead-in to this story in the first place., Who thinks there’s no racism in Davis?  If somebody or some study said this, I’d really like to hear how that conclusion was reached.




        1. Alan Miller

          Her value system is isolated and in no way reflective of the Davis culture overall.

          But as always the freaks get the attention.  Especially if we give it to them.

  6. Ron

    Another “problem” in discussing racism is the “shaming” that goes on, whenever the issue is brought up.  “Thou shalt not ever have racist thoughts.”  (What a horrible person you must be!)

    In general, there’s a lack of honesty regarding the subject.  (And, “shaming” might just drive it underground, or beneath the surface.) Especially when there’s a lack of (societal) honesty in the first place.

      1. Ron

        No.  This has nothing to do with the caller that you’re citing.

        I do believe that racism exists (and is more widespread than we’d like to acknowledge), but that it is not the exclusive domain of one skin color.  (That’s part of the lack of honesty that I’m referring to.)

        Since it is (probably) widespread, I’m not sure that “shaming” leads to an honest discussion or understanding.


        1. Ron

          David:  Actually, that’s a good point.  But, the caller seems so “out there” that I’m not sure it is useful. It almost seems like a hoax.

          Racism (in general) exists, though. Comes in more than one form.

    1. Tia Will


      “Thou shalt not ever have racist thoughts.”

      The problem is not with “racist thoughts”. We all recognize “racial” differences usually focusing on skin pigment, hair type and specific facial features. This recognition is not the problem. It is whether or not we then go on to treat that individually differently from how we would treat someone of our own “race”. All peoples do tend to treat people of their own race or tribe preferentially. However, this is not universal. I worked on a reservation where there was a great deal of violence and yet I felt entirely safe. The violence was never directed at the whites but was always intertribal.

      The point is that all can perceive “racial” difference. A few such as this woman are outliers who at least some of the time do not care who sees their hatred. However, I think that it is undeniable that there is a dominant culture whose members frequently do treat minority members differently from how they treat members of the dominant culture which still happens to be white.

      1. Ron

        Tia:  I guess that’s it, in a nutshell.  Of course, even within the context of the overall dominant culture, there are “local” dominant cultures in which those with light-colored skin are treated “differently”.  I can attest to that.  There’s a lack of honesty regarding that (as well as the entire subject of racism).


        1. John Hobbs

          I have frequently been in the minority race in both of my major careers, public works and music. I currently live in the Meadowview neighborhood of South Sacramento, where I am most certainly in the minority race. I have never felt disadvantaged or fearful for my life because of being a white male. I have never been stopped for driving a car that was too nice or too new. I have never been pulled over for being in the wrong neighborhood after dark. Treated differently? Perhaps, with more deference, but never detrimentally.

        2. Ron

          John:  Perhaps you never attended public schools (and used public transportation) in a large city.

          I carry some scars to this day, from that experience.  (Worse still, this problem is rarely acknowledged. And, when it is, it is “downplayed”.)

          I wasn’t alone in that experience. I witnessed it, as well.

  7. Liz Kelly

    Of course there’s racism in Davis. Isn’t there racism everywhere? There’s no excuse for someone to call your office and say that and use racial slurs (I’m guessing maybe alcohol may have played a role with the timing of the phone calls). I grew up in Davis, I experienced racism for the first time at Davis High when I was told that because I was partially Hispanic, I “was a certain percentage better” than another Hispanic kid in my class. It’s horrible and it’s sad and for some people, like the person who called you, they actually believe it. The majority of people in Davis aren’t racist but you will have that 1% of people who you just can’t argue with or even chance their minds that the world is flat. My point is, I agree with David to release the content of the phone calls, we can’t continually gloss over every single one of the issue Davis faces. (And my family has been here since 1946, so I’d like to think I know Davis pretty well but I’m still shocked by some things)

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