Guest Commentary: It Is Still Happening

Davis Police Car

Davis Police Carby Francesca Wright

I still have not watched the last videos of Tyre.

Reading the description has been enough to feel the betrayal, the horror, the terror every Black parent feels for the safety of their child in this country.

It is still happening.  It is still happening.

400 years of dehumanization.

What will it take to heal this nation from its arrogant legacy of violence and dehumanization?  What will it take to purge our schools and workplaces from toxic masculinity that permits bullies who trigger rage?  What will it take to ensure every man who wears a badge and dons the blue will hold every life sacred and fear his own power as much as the mysterious “bad guy.”

Home on ancestral Patwin lands I grieve the history of domination.

We must stop.

We must recommit to the work of recrafting our institutions and our community and ourselves.

The work to dismantle the legacy of supremacy has many aspects.

There is so much work to do.

Here in the City of Davis, we have begun the work.  We have been changing the culture of policing.  Police with histories of excessive use of force are leaving the department.  Our recent city councils, our chief, our community have taken steps to be more transparent.  Our Independent Police Auditor has worked with our Police Department to study use of force violations. I am so grateful for this.  I believe it has reduced traumatizing situations and may have saved lives.

The work is only begun.   The horrific violence suffered by Tyre Nichols and so many men and woman of color killed by police are only the ugliest manifestation of the legacy of domination.  Here in Yolo County our child welfare system feels more predatory than helpful in its relationship with Black mothers who are 7.7 times more likely to be accused of neglect than white families.[1]  Here in Davis, Black people are arrested nearly 6 times the rate of their population share.[2]

There is more work to do.

  • We must better understand and address disparities in arrests, charges and traffic stops.
  • We must shift non-violent service calls to unarmed personnel.
  • We must deploy mental health experts to help in mental health crisis.
  • We must ensure every parent gets the help they need, especially when challenged by a legacy of poverty and family trauma.
  • We must commit to confront institutional racism in all public service.

May each of us find a role in the work left to be done.

1:  YOLO COUNTY SUBSTANTIATIONS BY RACE/ETHNICITY

href=”https://ccwip.berkeley.edu/childwelfare/reports/Allegation/MTMG/r/ab636/l”>Webster, D., Lee, S., Dawson, W., Magruder, J., Exel, M., Cuccaro-Alamin, S., Putnam-Hornstein, E., Wiegmann, W., Saika, G., Courtney, M., Eastman, A.L., Hammond, I., Gomez, A., Sunaryo, E., Guo, S., Agarwal, A., Berwick, H., Hoerl, C., Yee, H., Gonzalez, A., Ensele, P., Nevin, J., & Guinan, B. (2023).

2: YOLO COUNTY FOSTER CARE PREVALENCE RATES BY RACE/ETHNICITY

href=”https://ccwip.berkeley.edu/childwelfare/reports/Allegation/MTMG/r/ab636/l”

 

3: FOSTER CARE PREVALENCE COMPARED WITH POPULATION

4: Disparity Indices by Ethnicity

[1] In her June 2020 report to the Yolo County Board of Supervisors, Child, Youth and Family Branch Director Karleen Jakowski said her department “needed improvement” in racial and ethnic disparities in substantiation rates, first entries, and over-representation in foster care. In a county where only 3% of the population is Black, over a five-year period the prevalence of Black children in custody was 7.7 times greater than white children (2016-2020).

[2] Reimagining Public Safety in Davis: Recommendations of the Temporary Joint Subcommittee, November 21, 2020 https://drive.google.com/file/d/1icbzgcces4NabrGkFWCggF1nVON_3N4m/view

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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2 Comments

  1. Todd Edelman

    As the writer is a candidate for City Council I would appreciate some specific details and numbers regarding 

    Here in the City of Davis….,

     that way we know the baseline for this potential new council member…. and really the relevant commissions as well going forward. While the details of what’s happening countywide are appreciated, the rest of it feels too much like vague platitudes and promises similar to the statements by the mayor and UC Davis Administration.

  2. Francesca Wright

    Here in the City of Davis, we have begun the work. 

    We formed an Police Accountability Commission (see:  https://www.cityofdavis.org/city-hall/commissions-and-committees/police-accountability-commission)
    We redefined the job description of the Independent Police Auditor to have access to personnel files and make public reports. (see https://www.cityofdavis.org/city-hall/police-department/administration/independent-police-auditor) 
    The recent Use of Force (UOF) report our auditor Michael Gennaco released disclosed that one officer was responsible for 5 of the 7 out of UOF compliance reports…and he is no longer with the force. (Statement made on a zoom PAC meeting) 
    At lease one of the officers responsible for the Picnic Day 5 debacle has left the force.
    We have a new Department of Social Services to coordinate resources for the unhoused.

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