By David M. Greenwald
Davis, CA – Following the murder of Tyre Nichols, Mayor Will Arnold issued a statement condemning the killing and outlining Davis City efforts at police reform. The statement came before the council for approval on Tuesday.
Councilmember Gloria Partida added to the end of the statement, “We are committed to doing this work and facing the hard truths and conversations required to make these goals a reality.”
Not everyone in the community was on board with the council making a statement on this issue.
Alan Miller during public comment: “Every local jurisdiction does not have to condemn this, we don’t live in Memphis, and that’s what we have state representatives and national representatives for, and the city of Memphis to deal with this.”
He made the point, “I don’t know anyone who thinks that what happened isn’t just horrible and atrocious.”
But he added, “Why is everyone talking this up? Well, it usually then gets linked to the Davis Police, or some virtue signaling or something.” He said, “I find it downright offensive that anybody would take this incident and then somehow float over here and attach it to the Davis Police Department.”
The council seemed to push back against that comment, however.
“Local jurisdictions don’t have to comment on this,” Councilmember Bapu Vaitla said. He said, “Sometimes it is appropriate to feel pride in your country and think about this ideal of a democratic republic or the centuries of people fighting for equality.”
But he said, “then other times you feel like you’re living in a graveyard… It’s just bodies of people who are unjustly dead—Black bodies, Native bodies, Brown bodies, Asian bodies.”
He said, “There’s some power just to acknowledging that fact and that you’ve benefited from that history. And maybe there’s also just some personal power in just realizing that you’re living in this graveyard.”
He continued, “For the most part we have the luxury of turning away from death, while some, that’s the entirety of what they look at every day. So when something like Half Moon Bay or Monterey Park, or Memphis happens, even us, the privileged can’t turn away.”
He noted, “I think America, California, Davis, we’re in serious, serious trouble in a lot of ways. We’re in a very, literally an existential crisis. I, I believe that, and this illusion of whatever it is, placidity, wealth, security, it’s just an illusion.”
Gloria Partida added, “I also believe that it is important for leaders at all levels to make statements or to make comments to rive with the community and to show leadership in the words that we present to our constituents.”
She noted, “It’s also an indication of who supports what.”
Will Arnold noted the “complex nature of policing in our community” and he noted, “I’ve also been to too many vigils and don’t expect that I’ve been to my last one either.”
He added, “There remains more work to come.”
Vice Mayor Josh Chapman who presided over the meeting as Mayor Arnold participated remotely, said that these incidents don’t just happen and not affect us where we live.
“I oftentimes find myself struggling around what it is that we can do to make meaningful progress and how we can move the needle on that,” he said.
He argued it was important to “show young people in this community, that this will not and cannot be tolerated. That’s why it’s important to have these conversations.”
He noted he took his sons, 12 and 13 years old, to the vigil, “and they asked me, why do these continue to happen?” He noted that as “somebody’s who’s engaged and involved in this community” that he feels “it’s extremely important to talk openly with my kids… I talk with them about how taking action to create a community that’s compassionate, it doesn’t just condemn violence, it doesn’t just condemn hate, but we understand sitting up here that we’re role models and we have to show and be an example to how we can have youth in our community’s voices be heard.”
The council voted unanimously to approve the statement with the addition from Glora Partida.