Earlier this week, William Kelly submitted a piece to the Vanguard calling on the city to retract what he saw as several false statements by the Davis Police Department on April 24, 2017, following the April 22 Picnic Day incident.
He followed this letter with a public comment. He and several other public commenters noted that it has been almost two months since the incident and the city still has not selected a new investigator.
Mr. Kelly said that he has been told that a lot is going on behind the scenes and that the council cares deeply about this issue. However, he told council, “I want to explain to you why that’s difficult to believe from what we can see.
“It has been over a month since John McGinness was dismissed as an independent investigator – and that’s a positive step,” he said. “But it doesn’t mean anything if no one is brought in to take his place.”
Mr. Kelly told the council it seemed like it was easy to find an independent investigator “when no one was looking,” but “now that people are paying attention the process has slowed and maybe stopped.”
He said, while there are limitations on what the council can say about this incident, “I want you to consider the city of Davis has already made a statement about the facts of Picnic Day.”
The press release from the Davis Police Department, he said, “contains several plainly false statements that have direct bearing on the case.”
One statement was, “the police car was surrounded by a violent mob.
“That certainly has bearing, because if that’s true, then the police officers can’t get out, what are they to do – obviously that’s relevant,” Will Kelly explained. “But the video plainly shows that, first of all, they drove into that crowd. Second of all, up until the moment the fighting started they could have safely backed out, and the whole time the driver side of that vehicle was completely open – they could have got out and identified themselves.
“That’s just plainly false,” he said.
He further pointed out the assertion that “the officers started to identify themselves. I think that is unacceptably vague.” Whether they identified themselves are not “is crucial to the whole case. I suggest that that statement be retracted,” he said.
Two weeks ago, Stephanie Parreira rankled several on the council with pointed comments regarding the council and upholding white supremacy by not acting on this incident. This week she doubled down on those comments, noting, “I understand that you’re not happy with being associated with upholding white supremacy and I’m glad that you’re unhappy with that. If you were comfortable with that, I think I would have a lot more concerns.”
She said, “You need to recognize that white supremacy doesn’t just come in a white sheet. It doesn’t just come bearing a Swastika or holding a Trump flag. Often it comes far more often in police of all colors treating black people with less respect.”
She noted the recently published study from Stanford which, using the transcripts from traffic stops of people in Oakland, found, “Officers’ language is less respectful when speaking to black community members.” This finding held regardless of the officer’s racial background and regardless of where the encounter occurred.
Ms. Parreira continued, “It comes in the form of black people being far more likely to die while unarmed at the hands of police. And it comes in the form of mostly white city councils who fail to act on police violence against black people.
“By not doing anything about this, you are saying, you are telling us, you’re telling me, that black lives don’t matter as much as others. That is white supremacy. We have to call that what it is. Because if we don’t, it’s just going to keep happening. Nothing is going to get done.
“I won’t apologize for using the term white supremacy to describe this – I want to be very clear on that,” she said. “If you are white, you are complicit in white supremacy. It does not matter how many black friends you have, it does not matter how many black relatives you have, or other relatives of color. We are associated with this – especially if we do not act against police violence.
“Where’s the investigator?” she asked. “Do you even intend there to be an investigation? Because if you don’t, that’s what you’re telling me, that black lives do not matter. We have video evidence that directly contradicts what the police said. It’s been almost two months later and nothing.”
The Vanguard has learned that there may be an announcement this week as to a new investigator, who would investigate police activities and conduct during the Picnic Day incident.
—David M. Greenwald reporting