Tag Archives: #BlackLivesMatter

In Martinez, Contra Costa and elsewhere – white backlash to Black Lives Matter

White backlash to Black Lives Matter was swift. It was also expected

San Francisco Chronicle, by Otis R. Taylor Jr. July 9, 2020 
Justin Gomez at the site of a Black Lives Matter mural that he and his wife, Angela helped organize and that had been defaced shortly after being completed in Martinez, Calif., on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. The couple that vandalized the Black Lives Matter mural (since restored) on Court Street on July 4th, has been charged with a hate crime each for their actions.
Justin Gomez at the site of a Black Lives Matter mural that he and his wife, Angela helped organize and that had been defaced shortly after being completed in Martinez, Calif., on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. The couple that vandalized the Black Lives Matter mural (since restored) on Court Street on July 4th, has been charged with a hate crime each for their actions. Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez / The Chronicle

The expected hostility toward the racial uprising energizing the country has begun.

It was expected by behaviorists and historians because history reveals that when some white people feel threatened by social justice movements, they lash out.

On July 4, the paint had barely dried on the 165-foot long Black Lives Matter mural on the street in front of the Wakefield Taylor Courthouse in Martinez when a man and a woman showed up. They dumped black paint on the yellow letters.

“This is not happening in my town,” the woman said as she spread the paint with a roller.

The hateful display of counterfeit patriotism was video-recorded by bystanders and went viral. On Tuesday, Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton charged Nicole Anderson and David Nelson with a hate crime for defacing the mural.

“It was a peaceful mural, and it was a powerful way, as we’ve seen all over the country, that has been used to think about the importance of Black lives,” Becton told me. “But this one in particular was to think about the importance of Black lives in Contra Costa County.”

The county is roughly 43% white, according to census data. Black people make up less than 10% of the county’s population, while Latinos account for about 26% of county residents.

A 2018 report by UC Berkeley’s Urban Displacement Project and the California Housing Partnership studied housing prices and demographic changes in the county from 2000 to 2015 to, among other things, understand trends producing “patterns of segregation and unequal access to high-resource neighborhoods that have defined the county’s racial and economic geography for decades.”

By 2015, the report concluded, “approximately half of low-income Black and Latinx households in the county lived in segregated, high-poverty tracts — approximately triple the rate of low-income Asian and White households, and a steep increase from 2000. Families in these types of neighborhoods typically face greater barriers to economic mobility [and] are more likely to suffer adverse health outcomes.”

Once again, systemic racism impacts the health, economic and educational outcomes of people of color.

The permitted Black Lives Matter mural in Martinez was repainted almost immediately, but get this: The very next day, a man was arrested for allegedly pulling a gun on people looking at the mural, according to the Police Department.

The retaliation is driven by hate, resentment and fear. Don’t be surprised if it lasts beyond next year’s presidential inauguration.

“These are old means of subordination that white people have used,” said UC Berkeley psychology Professor Dacher Keltner, referring to recent viral incidents, including in Indiana where a Black man was attacked in the woods by white men. “This racism is the fabric of this culture.”

And when protesters rallied earlier this week to support Vauhxx Booker, the Black man who called the Indiana incident an “attempted lynching,” someone drove their car through the crowd, NBC News reported.

Wait, there’s more. A white woman used the N-word while arguing with a Black woman in a Sacramento-area convenience store on June 25. A white diner called someone enjoying a family celebration at a Carmel Valley restaurant an “Asian piece of s—.”

“Trump’s gonna f— you,” he said, rising from the table.

He already has.

The president is a grifter who knows hate is currency in America. He stokes white fear and resentment by painting Black Lives Matter protesters as terrorists and thugs. On July 1, he called Black Lives Matter murals symbols of hate. If his lies were your main source of information about people of color, you’d think the white, Black, Latino, Asian and Indigenous people marching for social justice were a bigger threat to this country than the coronavirus.

That’s why a white couple in St. Louis pointed their guns at protesters who marched past their home.

“The narrative of police brutality, the narrative of oppression, the narrative of racism — it’s a lie,” said the man in the Martinez incident, identified as Nelson, who wore a red T-shirt with “four more years” on the front. “Why don’t you guys learn about history?”

Once again, ignorance is a hallmark of white supremacy.

Here’s a brief lesson in American history: Southern white people went to war and sacrificed a generation to preserve the right to buy, sell and trade Black bodies. Then this country built statues to honor human traffickers and to remind Black people that their place — no, our lives — were conditional. After slavery was abolished, the lynchings of Black people became appointment viewing. Black people’s homes, churches and offices were bombed during the civil rights movement.

I could go on, but you get the historical context. In this country, when some white people feel their way of life — their status — is threatened, they respond with violence.

Dana Frank, a research professor of history at UC Santa Cruz, told me that some white resentment turns into anger instead of reflection.

“There’s white people that are well-meaning or confused and clueless, and then there’s the people who are actively crossing over into hostility. The second category is much harder to reach,” she said. “I think it’s very hard for your average white person to see all those forms of institutionalized racism in which they come out ahead. How do you open the door to somebody seeing that without that person feeling threatened?”

By getting white people to talk to white people about systemic racism.

Justin Gomez, who obtained the permit for the street mural, organized the effort a week after flyers calling for white unity were distributed in Martinez. Gomez, who is Filipino and was raised in Walnut Creek, has two children. He’s a stay-at-home dad, and his wife is a health care worker.

He told me he was blown away at how quickly the mural was defaced. Then again, he lives in Contra Costa County.

“We see Confederate flags,” Gomez said. “We see a lot of racist rhetoric in our local social media circles, so we fully knew that that was going to happen and we were ready for it.”

Six gallons of yellow paint were delivered to him Monday.

“We’re ready to fix it again,” he said.

ACLU, SF Board of Supes request release of footage in Monterrosa shooting

Vallejo Times-Herald, by John Glidden, July 6, 2020 
Jorge and Linda Moreno, former roommates of Sean Monterrosa, protest in front of City Hall prior to a June 5 march. Monterrosa was killed by a Vallejo police officer on June 2. (Chris Riley – Times-Herald file photo)

Pressure continues to mount from outside Vallejo to release body camera footage from the fatal officer-involved shooting of Sean Monterrosa in front of a Vallejo Walgreens during the early morning hours of June 2.

Both the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors have taken the rare action of asking Vallejo leaders to release the body camera footage immediately, instead of delaying release of the footage up to 45 calendar days — as allowed by state law.

“For years, police accountability and civil rights activist in Vallejo have run up against a police department that has disproportionately targeted people of color, has been allowed to brutalize Black and Latino residents, and has rarely been held accountable for its actions,” part of the supervisors’ June 16 resolution reads.

In its five-page letter from June 30, the ACLU criticizes the city for failing to release the body camera footage, and video from a private drone sought through the California Public Records Act by the nonprofit public interest newsroom Open Vallejo.

“Not only is the city required to release these records pursuant to the PRA, the city’s delay erodes what little public trust remains with a community that has seen far too many killed and brutally assaulted by the police,” the letter states.

Monterrosa, 22, of San Francisco was shot and killed outside the Walgreens on Redwood Street. Law enforcement sources say the police officer is Jarrett Tonn. He fired five times through a car windshield, hitting Monterrosa once. City and police officials have yet to officially confirm Tonn as the shooter.

“Sean Monterrosa was my constituent and a beloved member of the Bernal Heights and Mission District neighborhoods that I represent,” said San Francisco Supervisor Hillary Ronen, who authored the resolution, in a statement to the Times-Herald on Monday. “He was a passionate advocate for social justice, and his death by Vallejo police has left a painful void in our community. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the resolution I authored urging the release of body camera footage from the officers involved in Sean’s death in order to bring greater transparency to this case and help Sean’s family obtain the justice they deserve.”

Monterrosa’s sister, Ashley Monterrosa, told the Times-Herald over the weekend that the family was offered the chance recently to watch the body camera footage, but only without a lawyer. The family declined.

Ashley Monterrosa said the family is hoping to watch the footage some time this week with their lawyer. She said a lawsuit would likely be followed afterward. The Monterrosa family is being represented by civil rights attorney John Burris.

Nextdoor working to remove racism in posts – Black Lives Matter is a local topic

It’s ‘Our Fault’: Nextdoor CEO Takes Blame For Deleting Of Black Lives Matter Posts

NPR All Things Considered, by Bobby Allyn, July 1, 2020
Nextdoor CEO Sarah Friar, here in July 2019, tells NPR the popular neighborhood app is taking steps to address reports of racial profiling and censorship on the platform. Patrick T. Fallon / Bloomberg via Getty Images

As protests swept the nation following the police killing of George Floyd, there was a surge of reports that Nextdoor, the hyperlocal social media app, was censoring posts about Black Lives Matter and racial injustice.

In an interview with NPR, Nextdoor CEO Sarah Friar said the company should have moved more quickly to protect posts related to Black Lives Matter by providing clearer guidance.

It “was really our fault” that moderators on forums across the country were deleting those posts, she said.

People of color have long accused Nextdoor, which serves as a community bulletin board in more than 265,000 neighborhoods across the U.S., of doing nothing about users’ racist comments and complaints. But Nextdoor came under especially heavy criticism in May after the company voiced public support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Unpaid volunteers, known as leads, moderate posts on Nextdoor. Friar said they were deleting posts about Black Lives Matter because they were following outdated rules stating that national conversations have no place in neighborhood forums. Those guidelines have now been revised to state that conversations about racial inequality and Black Lives Matter are allowed on Nextdoor.

“We did not move quickly enough to tell our leads that topics like Black Lives Matter were local in terms of their relevance,” Friar said. “A lot of our leads viewed Black Lives Matter as a national issue that was happening. And so, they removed that content, thinking it was consistent with our guidelines.”

She added that the new rules make one thing clear: “Black Lives Matter is a local topic.”

Friar said that Nextdoor is taking several more steps to improve the moderation of comments. It will soon offer unconscious bias training to all moderators. It will also launch a campaign to enlist more Black moderators. And it is ramping up efforts to detect and remove instances of racial profiling.

Apologizing, then asking for help from Black users

Neighbors take to Nextdoor to search for a local plumber, find a babysitter or sell a piece of furniture. But the app also has gained notoriety for spreading panicked messages that carry racist overtones.

In recent weeks, as the national conversation has centered on racial injustice, Black users have shared their stories of abandoning Nextdoor. One person wrote on Twitter that they stopped using it after reading repeated complaints about “large groups of black teens walking in their neighborhood.” Another tweeted that their neighbors would write messages such as “Saw a black youth hanging out next door. Calling the cops.”

Mayisha Fruge, 42, a black mother of two in San Diego, Calif., who is active on Nextdoor, said those kinds of post sound familiar.

About 90% of her neighbors come across as good, decent people on the app, she said.

“That other 10 percent? They must be hiding behind the computer. I never would have thought that my neighborhood had those types of people, racist people in it,” she told NPR.

In one post, a neighbor was suspicious about a black person who was simply taking a stroll. Another asked: do the Black Lives Matter protesters have jobs?

“I said, what does this have to do with equality and justice?” Fruge said.

Friar has apologized to Black users who have said they do not feel welcomed or respected on the app, vowing that racism has no place on Nextdoor.

She also announced that Nextdoor was cutting off a tie to law enforcement by ending a “forward to police” feature that allowed users to report observed activity to authorities.

But Friar told NPR that Nextdoor’s efforts to combat racism on the app will go even further.

Nextdoor has enlisted Stanford University psychology professor Jennifer Eberhardt to help slow down the speed of comments to tamp down on racial profiling, and it’s working with her to make unconscious bias training available to hundreds of thousands of moderators.

It is a change that some Nextdoor users have demanded. In an online petition, they criticized the app’s “murky” guidelines for content moderation, which users said led to abuse and the silencing of Black voices.

In response to Nextdoor’s commitments, the Atlanta-based group Neighbors for More Neighbors, which helped organize the petition, applauded the news but remained cautious.

“This is a positive step towards creating a true community forum where all people in our neighborhoods feel safe to participate,” said activist Andrea Cervone with the group. “We will be keeping an eye on the company to make sure they continue forward and fulfill these public commitments.”

In Northwest Indiana, Jennifer Jackson-Outlaw had a lukewarm reception to the company’s announcements. Jackson, a black woman who became fed up with Nextdoor and deleted the app, said Nextdoor’s mostly white executive suite needs a shakeup in order to effect real cultural change at the company.

“It’s important to not only have representation as far as those who are the moderator, but also those who are in the leadership of the company who may be more be well-versed on some of the issues,” she said.

At Nextdoor, Friar has kicked off an effort to recruit more Black leads. This includes inviting especially active Black users to become moderators and starting outreach campaigns to encourage Black users to join the app.

“We recognize that is an underrepresented group on Nextdoor,” Friar said of Black users. “There are others of course, but we want to start there because we really feel that the Black Lives Matter movement is so critical and important right now just to the health of our country.”

Friar described Nextdoor’s content moderation as “a layered cake,” saying it involves local moderators, artificial intelligence tools and the company’s human reviewers.

She said that the app’s AI programs are being fine-tuned to better detect both explicit racism and posts that engage in racial profiling, or what she called “coded racist content.” Nextdoor is now dedicating more staff to focus on attempting to ferret out racist content on the app.

“We’re really working hard to make sure racist statements don’t end up in the main news feed, making sure that users that don’t act out the guidelines aren’t on the platform anymore,” Friar said. “It is our No. 1 priority at the company to make sure Nextdoor is not a platform where racism survives.”

Confronting the ‘Karen problem’

Though anecdotal evidence suggests Nextdoor’s user base is largely white, Friar said the company has no internal metrics about the race of its users.

The app does not ask about race when users sign up, a decision that Friar said may soon change as the company examines how best to hold itself accountable in its push to diversify the platform.

“We are debating that,” she said. “Because if we want to measure our success of being a diverse platform, perhaps that’s something we do need to ask.”

Critics of Nextdoor, including U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., have drawn attention to the app’s so-called Karen problem. It’s a term that has come to describe a middle-aged, privileged white woman with racist habits, whether overt or subtle.

When asked if Nextdoor has a Karen problem, Friar deflected by saying any intolerance or racism on the app is a snapshot of issues plaguing the entire country, not problems confined to the neighborhood platform.

“Does the U.S. have that problem? Yes, it’s out there,” Friar said. “But I think we’re working as hard as we can to make sure neighbors are doing right by each other, that they’re being civil, being respectful and that they’re not falling back to calling each other names but rather trying to deeply understand.”

Juneteenth protest on Carquinez Bridge leads to 3 arrests

Marchers arrested after Carquinez Bridge protest extends into traffic lanes

SFBAY.ca, by Bay City News, June 20, 2020

Three people were arrested Friday after protesters in a Juneteenth Black Lives Matter “March Across the Carquinez Bridge” that originated in Vallejo shut down motor traffic in westbound lanes of the Alfred Zampa Bridge.

About 55 protesters entered the pedestrian walkway of the Zampa Bridge about 1:30 p.m. and some went over the concrete barrier and onto the traffic shoulder about 10 minutes later and then into vehicle lanes, halting traffic, according to the Golden Gate Division of the California Highway Patrol.

The CHP said it intermittently opened one lane to relieve the traffic backup before clearing the lanes about 3 p.m.

“One CHP officer was assaulted by a protester and the protester was later arrested,” officials said in a social media post. “The CHP officer sustained minor injuries.”

Facebook: CHP – Golden Gate Division


This afternoon at approximately 1:29 PM, a group of approximately 55 protesters proceeded onto the Carquinez Bridge pedestrian walkway. At approximately 1:40 PM, protesters crossed over the concrete barrier between the pedestrian walkway and right hand shoulder of Westbound I-80. Protesters subsequently entered the Westbound I-80 lanes of traffic. Westbound I-80 was shutdown, with one lane of traffic intermittently open by CHP officers on scene to relieve congestion. At approximately 3:00 PM all lanes of traffic were opened.

Three arrests were made during this incident:

Princess Hodges (20 yrs) out of Benicia was arrested and booked for: 243(C) PC (Felony) – Battery on a Peace/Police Officer with Injury, 69 PC (Felony) – Resisting an Executive Officer, 148 (A)(1) PC (Misd) – Resist, Obstruct, Delay Peace Officer, and 21960A VC (Infraction) – Pedestrian On Freeway.

Jeremy Christian Smith-Batha (27 yrs) out of Sacramento was arrested and booked for: 69 PC (Felony) – Resisting an Executive Officer, 836.6(A) PC (Felony) – Escape or Attempt to Escape With Force/ETC, 243(B) PC (Misd) – Battery on a Peace/Police Officer, 148(A)(1) PC (Misd) – Resist, Obstruct, Delay Peace Officer, 148(B) PC (Misd) – Take Peace Officer’s Weapon, 22210 PC (Misd) – Manufacture/Possess Leaded Cane/ETC, and 21960A VC (Infraction) – Pedestrian On Freeway.

Michael Joshua Alonso (22 yrs) out of Vallejo was arrested and booked for: 148(A)(1) PC (Misd) – Resist, Obstruct, Delay Peace Officer and 21960A VC (Infraction) – Pedestrian On Freeway.

One CHP officer was assaulted by a protester and the protester was later arrested. The CHP officer sustained minor injuries.

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