Public Commenters Continue to Press Council on Picnic Day

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Stephanie Parreira speaks back in May

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



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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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29 thoughts on “Public Commenters Continue to Press Council on Picnic Day”

  1. Keith O

     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.”

    Sheesh, really? Why do liberals have to make everything about race.  That crowd had people of several races in it.  This kind of crap needs to stop and our council needs to ignore comments like this.  Why are we even giving these kinds of comments any credence?

      1. Keith O

        Liberal/activist/progressive whatever, pretty much all the same.  Should I just say leftist from now on? Are you now going to tell me she’s actually a conservative?  LOL

        David, how do you feel about her “white supremacy” comment in regards to the picnic day incident.

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          You’re failing to acknowledge the civil war on the left and the difference between liberals, progressives, and radicals. This actually becomes pretty important because there is a divide between those who believe that there is a legitimate purpose for the police but that they sometimes abuse their power and those who believe that the police are fundamentally an extension of the government which was based on a notion of white supremacy among other things.

          On white supremacy, this was from an article two weeks ago: “At the same time, I think we need to place the “white supremacy” comment within the context of the broader debate on policing.”

          You can see my discussion about halfway down: https://www.davisvanguard.org/2017/06/view-lack-transparency-process-breeds-anger-distrust/

          My point there is I think that there is a point here. I think that the police were often the enforcement arm of Jim Crow laws and there is a legitimate concern that the system of mass incarceration is a continuation of state power to keep down people of power particularly blacks. The New Jim Crow critique if you will. I don’t go as far some would, but I think there is a legitimate point here.

  2. Ron

    From article:  “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.”

    I would like to apologize, on behalf of everyone without color (“color-challenged”). 

    I always suspected that I was “born guilty”. If reincarnated, I hope to come back with more skin pigmentation, next time. (That way, I won’t be “complicit”.)

    🙂

    1. Keith O

      Yes Ron, who knew all of us PONC were all (complicit) white supremists and were full of complicit bias.

      Fortunately I can just brush off comments like this for what they are, BS.

      Unfortunately people who consider themselves liberal/progressive/radical (most of Davis) let these types of comments bother them out of fear of being labelled a racist.  For a liberal/progressive/radical having someone refer to them as a white supremacist is worse than being called a Trumpster.

      1. Howard P

        Letting it “shed off” is a good strategy…

        Another is ‘if you’re going to do the time (being labelled as a “white supremacist”), you might as well do the crime’.  I’ll keep that as a worst-case option.

        1. David Greenwald

          That’s the point that the speaker was making, so if he is going to give it real service, then he has to acknowledge that his answer was insufficient.

      1. Ron

        David:  What actions do you suggest (since I’m obviously “guilty”).

        I’m just poking at the argument, a little.  The article itself implies that all skin colors are “complicit” (e.g., regardless of the skin color of an officer, for example).

        In a larger sense, I would agree that there’s still problems regarding biases, etc. On a more extreme level, I’ve found many of the recent police videos to be very concerning, to say the least. (Not so much with the “Picnic Day” incident, although I suspect there’s lessons to be learned.)

        I strongly suspect that no one on the council is “complicit”, in regard to the incident discussed.

         

        1. Ron

          By the way, the “incident” that I’m most concerned about (on Picnic Day) is not the one involving police.  Where’s the community outrage, regarding the “other” incident?  Are we “complicit” regarding that incident (possibly due to the apparent skin color of the alleged perpetrator)?

          I wonder.

        2. David Greenwald

          “I strongly suspect that no one on the council is “complicit”, in regard to the incident discussed.”

          This is my serious answer.  There is a divide between those who believe that police serve a legitimate purpose but at times abuse their authority and those who believe that the police are a fundamental extension of the oppressive arm of the state.  I think I kind of straddle that line because I can clearly see a need for the police but also I think the mass incarceration/ New Jim Crow critique has legs.

        3. Keith O

          Ron

          Where’s the community outrage, regarding the “other” incident?  Are we “complicit” regarding that incident (possibly due to the apparent skin color of the alleged perpetrator)?

          You’re probably right there Ron.

          I would bet that would’ve been a much bigger story if the person jumping on the car were a PONC.

        4. Ron

          Keith:  This is the fundamental issue that some are “uncomfortable” with, and fail to honestly acknowledge.  There are reasons that prisons have a disproportionate share of “persons of color” (or, at least some “colors”) which have nothing to do with “white complicity”.  (At least, not directly.)

          I’m not sure this is the best example of it, but the thought crossed my mind.

        5. Ron

          Ron (quoting Ron):  “I’m not sure this is the best example of it, but the thought crossed my mind.”

          I can think of a better example (which is “theoretical”, since it hasn’t happened around here to my knowledge, at least):

          What if the thugs jumping on the car were clearly Caucasian, and the victim inside was a person of color (especially African-American)?

          It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to envision the probable response.

        6. Keith O

          So Ron, are you saying that complicit bias works both ways?

          In a lot of cases it’s much more than just complicit, it’s outright racism of the reverse kind.

        7. Ron

          Keith:  That’s pretty much what I’m saying.  Not sure exactly how to word it.  (It goes back to a lack of overall honesty, regarding discussions about “race relations”, etc.)  It is an uncomfortable topic, for many (myself included). It’s almost a “societal taboo”, to have honest discussions. (Such discussions easily devolve into allegations of insensitivity, racism, blaming, etc.)

           

        8. Howard P

          Kinda scary, David, that you say you feel you are ‘straddling a line’ between two extremes. Mathematically, a line has no width.  Is there no “in between” where 15% of the reality is at one extreme , 15% at the other, and the truth of the reality is neither?

          Rhetorical question…  but you seem to favor the “black or white” choice in that particular comment.  Am pretty damn sure that’s not really how you believe or operate… yet, more and more it seems that folk gravitate towards the extremes.

          Words have meaning.

        9. David Greenwald

          Howard:

          I don’t think I’m straddling two extremes here.  One is a conventional view that the police serve a legitimate purpose but at times abuse their authority.  The other is a less conventional view that the police have historically served as enforcers to impose white supremacy.  If you look at my article from last week whether it’s the use of police in the south to enforce Jim Crow or the New Jim Crow critique, I think there’s a point.  I don’t go as far as some do in this discussion, but I don’t dismiss the view out of hand.  Hence my straddling comment.

  3. Ron

    “David:  There is a divide between those who believe that police serve a legitimate purpose but at times abuse their authority and those who believe that the police are a fundamental extension of the oppressive arm of the state.”

    Yes – there certainly does seem to be a divide.  Well-stated.  Those who believe the latter are (in a sense) forcing an examination of the situation, overall.

     

    1. Howard P

      The dichotomous “divide” was devised and now promulgated by ‘bad’ people.  Anyone who believes it (reality of law enforcement) is one or the other is a damnable fool.  PD’s have saints and satans… the vast majority operate as real, live, human beings.  Having flaws, but focussed on public service… average, median, everyday, does not generate headlines in any media.  That is reality.

      Ex. “Dog bites man” gets attention… “Man bites dog”, gets attention… man plays with dog/dog plays with man, dog walks man/man walks dog… you’ll never see those stories.

  4. Dave Hart

    And we are fortunate, in a sorry way, to have both incidents on Picnic Day to serve as examples of when and where that intrinsic white supremacy comes out and where it is not an issue.  In both cases there are non-white suspects.  In the case of the Russell Blvd crowd brawl, there is video that clearly enough indicates the police officers acted inappropriately and emotionally.  I don’t believe they would have acted the same way if the demographic of the crowd as a whole had been white fraternity boys and girls, for example.

    The person arrested in the car stomping case (and I am assuming here and at this point in time there is credible evidence for the arrest) is black and I do not view such an arrest and vigorous prosecution as racist regardless of who is in the car.  I would hope the same approach would be made toward a nice, white and Christian fraternity boy who did the same thing to anyone.

    The one situation exposed unintended and probably buried racist feeling of some officers.  In the other incident, the police were not on the scene, so we don’t know how they would have handled a suspect, though we can speculate from the way our DPD handled the other situation.

    And why is it that those who are most in denial about the existence and pernicious nature of white supremacy in this thread also don’t post under their real names?  Just something I noticed.

     

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