All posts by Roger Straw

Editor, owner, publisher of The Benicia Independent

Solano County Sheriff refuses to share FBI report clearing deputies

Community Group Slams Sheriff For Lack Of Transparency

SFGate.com, by John Glidden, April 15, 2021
Solano County Sheriff Tom Ferrara

Solano County Sheriff Thomas Ferrara has come under fire from critics claiming he hasn’t been completely transparent when he said federal law enforcement cleared several of his deputies of being members of an extremist organization.

Ferrara told Benicia Black Lives Matter (BBLM) in a letter this week that the FBI “confirmed none of my employees are members of any extremist organizations.”

This includes the Three Percenters militia group, which advocates for the Second Amendment and the right for private gun ownership, along with active resistance toward the U.S. government.

Ferrara and the Sheriff’s Office have not released any official reports or documents supporting Ferrara’s claim that his deputies were absolved of being part of an extremist organization.

“I’m not comfortable with the sheriff’s response,” said Nimat Shakoor-Grantham, co-founder of BBLM, on Thursday. “(Ferrara) has proof that deputies in his office supported these groups in the past. You can take off the uniform but you can’t take off the bias.”

Three Percenters are an anti-government militia named after the mistaken idea that only 3 percent of the American colonists fought in the revolution against Great Britain.

Shakoor-Grantham pointed to the firing of a Fresno police officer after he allegedly participated in a rally held by the far-right extremist group Proud Boys in mid-March. The officer was placed on leave the following day and then subsequently terminated.

“What other proof does this sheriff need?” she added. “The FBI has deemed militia organizations like this as terrorist groups.”

In its letter, which was also directed at the Benicia City Council, BBLM demanded that Ferrara and the council “not only visibly and vocally condemn right wing extremism, but also pledge to conduct afull investigation both at the County level and at the City level to ensure that policies and procedures – including those focused on recruitment and disciplinary actions – are in place to actively expel these extremists from the ranks of law enforcement and to prevent their recruitment in the first place.”

Brandon Greene, co-founder of BBLM, said Ferrara’s letter showed his unwillingness to weed out extremists in his office and be transparent about his investigation.

“Where is this FBI report?” asked Greene on Thursday. “Put it out to the public and community for scrutiny.”

The county did not respond to a request from this news organization to see the FBI report.

Both Greene and Shakoor-Grantham said the Solano County Board of Supervisors’ decision not to get involved is frustrating.

“The sheriff is almost emboldened by the lack of Board of Supervisor action,” Greene added.

Greene said BBLM sent a letter asking the board to do something, with Supervisor Monica Brown the only one to respond.

“(Supervisor) Monica Brown said the board didn’t have the power to investigate,” Greene said.

Greene says that isn’t true, as a newly enacted law, Assembly Bill 1185, allows the board to create a civilian sheriff oversight board and inspector general position. The board and inspector general would have subpoena power to investigate issues within the sheriff’s office.

Shakoor-Grantham and Greene said they have approached the board to have an item placed on the agenda to discuss the issues raised by the Open Vallejo investigation.

“So far, it’s been crickets,” Shakoor-Grantham said. “They won’t talk about it.”

A request for comment sent to the clerk of the Solano County Board of Supervisors wasn’t immediately returned on Thursday.

Ferrara continues to reject the findings from Open Vallejo’s investigation, claiming he found “no merit” in the allegations made in the report.

Open Vallejo originally reported that members of Ferrara’s office displayed imagery and support to the Three Percenters over social media during the past few years. Former Solano County sheriff’s Public Information Officer Daniel “Cully” Pratt, who owns a wood-working business, made a gun display rack for his colleague Sgt. Roy Stockton in 2016. Cully Pratt’s brother is well-known actor Chris Pratt.

The piece includes Three Percenter imagery, like 13 shotgun shells arranged in a circle around the Roman numeral III. It also has “WILL NOT COMPLY,” at the bottom of the display. Cully Pratt used the hashtag “#3percenter,” and “blackgunsmatter,” among others in the Instagram post.

Cully Pratt told The Vacaville Reporter in response to the Open Vallejo article that the symbols in the post were “believed to be strictly in support of the 2nd Amendment and Pro-America — not in any way extremist anti-government views.”

However, in the same year Cully Pratt unveiled his art on Instagram, Three Percenters from Idaho sent some of its members over to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon during an armed standoff with federal officials.

Stockton, who was recently elected to the Vacaville City Council, also sold leather products under the name High Brass Leather and another business. As of Thursday evening, the High Brass Leather website had been taken down. For a time, a product was displayed on the site showing a coiled snake and a Roman numeral three surrounded by 13 stars.

Open Vallejo also uncovered that Ferrara’s office homeless outreach coordinator, Deputy Dale Matsuoka, under the name Matt Daley posted Three Percenter imagery over his social media.

With the lack of information coming from the Board of Supervisors and Ferrara’s office, Shakoor-Grantham says she is fearful interacting with sheriff’s deputies.

“I can’t call the sheriff’s office for support,” she said. “I don’t want them coming to my house. I’m a Black woman. It scares me.”

Benician arrested for hate crime against 3 black kids outside Raley’s

Male suspect in Benicia arrested for alleged hate crime, DUI

Vallejo Times Herald, By KATY ST. CLAIR, April 15, 2021
Source: facebook.com/StandUpBenicia/

A 20-year-old man was arrested in Benicia on Saturday for an alleged felony “hate crime.”

Patric Knoblich is accused of making racial slurs against a group of minors at the Southampton Shopping Center as he drove past them, police said. He was also booked for allegedly brandishing a replica of a gun and driving under the influence.

According to a post on the Facebook group Stand-Up Benicia, the victims — ages 13, 14 and 15 — were walking their bikes next to the shopping complex when a man yelled from his car, “Hey you nasty (N-words)!” Two passengers reportedly looked on and laughed.

The children say they have a recording of the incident. The Times-Herald listened to the audio and a male can be heard yelling the slur, and also saying “You (expletive) nasty!”

According to the Benicia Police Department, “a short time later, the teens asked the driver why he made the comments and at this point, the driver brandished a realistic-looking airsoft gun” and drove away.

The juveniles claim that when the car came back, the driver also yelled, “You don’t know who you’re (expletive) with, (expletive)!”

The boys told a source familiar to the Times-Herald that they were fearful and went into Raley’s Supermarket to report what had happened. According to the boys, the manager of Raley’s told them to “go home,” though a spokesperson for Raley’s said that is inaccurate and that the store manager called 911.

The Benicia Police confirm that Raley’s did indeed call 911, but after the victim’s mother had already done so.

According to a post on Stand Up Benicia, the boys were frightened and went to the back of the store, where the mother of one of their schoolmates recognized them and took them home. The mother of one of the boys then called 911 and the police arrived at their home.

According to BPD, officers located the alleged driver of the vehicle, Knoblich, whom they say is out on bail for a previous, unrelated crime. Police say the incident is still under investigation.

Knoblich was booked into Solano County Jail on April 11 for misdemeanor brandishing of a firearm replica, driving under the influence and driving under the influence as a minor, and a felony “violation of civil rights.”

Knoblich has been released from jail. The Times-Herald has reached out to the district attorney about the case, but had not heard back by press time.

Solano County COVID report on Thursday April 15: numbers up today

By Roger Straw, Thursday, April 15, 2021

Solano COVID numbers: increases in number of new positive cases, number of active cases and % positivity rate.  It’s still among us, folks – stay safe!

Solano County COVID report on Thursday, April 15:
[Source: see far below.  See also my ARCHIVE spreadsheet of daily Solano COVID updates.]
Solano County COVID-19 Dashboard – SUMMARY:
On April 15, Solano County reported 70 new COVID cases.  For context, our average over the first two weeks of April was 39 new cases per day.   The increase today will make it more difficult  for Solano to join all other Bay Area counties in the State’s orange tier.  Solano’s Currently Active cases increased today from 295 to 347.  Our percent positivity rate increased from 5.5% to 6.3%.
>> The virus is still on the move here.  Stay safe, get vaccinated, wear a mask and social distance!  We will get through this together.
Cases by City on April 15:

  • Benicia added 1 new case today, total of 914 cases since the outbreak began.
  • Dixon added 4 new cases today, total of 1,834 cases.
  • Fairfield added 16 new cases today, total of 8,651 cases.
  • Rio Vista remained steady today, total of 358 cases.
  • Suisun City added 7 new cases today, total of 2,174 cases.
  • Vacaville added 13 new cases today, total of 8,296 cases.
  • Vallejo added 29 new cases today, total of 9,446 cases.
  • Unincorporated areas remained steady today, total of 101 cases.

Most new cases are among those of us age 18-49!  Please stay safe, and if you catch it, please don’t pass it on to your elders!

Solano Age Groups – Total & New Cases reported today
0-17 Total Cases New cases today 18-49 Total Cases New cases today 50-64 Total Cases New cases today 65+ Total Cases New cases today
3,777 12 17,611 38 6,580 15 3,825 5

Ages 0-17 count for 11.9% of all cases
Ages 18-49 count for 55.4% of all cases
Ages 50-64 count for 20.7% of all cases
Ages 65+ count for 12.0% of all cases

The chart below shows the RATE of Solano cases by age groups (per 100,000 population, as of today).

COMPARE: Screenshots from Solano County COVID Dashboard yesterday, Wednesday, April 14:


The images on this page are from today’s and the previous Solano County COVID-19 Dashboard.  The Dashboard is full of much more information and updated weekdays around 4pm.  On the County’s dashboard, you can hover a mouse or click on an item for more information.  Note the tabs at top for SummaryDemographics and Vaccines.  Click here to go to today’s Solano County Dashboard.


Sources

Three new Coronavirus notices on Solano County website

By Roger Straw, April 15, 2021

Solano County COVID-19 Updates

COVID-19 Info & Resources
  • Update (4/15/21): Changes to Permitted Activities under the Blueprint for a Safer Economy Tiers Activity and Business Tiers
  • Update (4/14/21): Solano County expands eligibility to individuals age 16 and older – Solano County is expanding vaccine eligibility to individuals living or working in the County who are age 16 and above, in accordance with state guidance.
  • Update (4/13/21):  Solano County pauses use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine at this time, replaces J&J scheduled clinics with Pfizer or Moderna – After the statement issued by the CDC and FDA recommending administration of J&J vaccine to be paused temporarily, Solano County is also pausing use of J&J vaccine at this time until further notice. All vaccine clinics scheduled by the County will be administering the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine. Please keep appointment already scheduled.