Category Archives: Public protest

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

June 19, 2020 – THREE ARRESTED ON CARQUINEZ BRIDGE

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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Benicia Mayor and City Council: “We are saddened and angered…and we stand against systemic racism”

Statement from your Mayor & City Council

City of Benicia Announcements, Wednesday, June 10, 2020 at 6:10 PM

We are saddened and angered by the killing of George Floyd and we stand with everyone in our community and across the nation against systemic racism. Enough is enough. Our communities are demanding change that is deserved and past due. It’s time for us to listen and take action to support our black, indigenous and people of color communities. We need to be clear in our expectations of our local, State and national leaders. And we won’t stop there. We must examine our actions and policies that impact all people of color and make meaningful changes.

We encourage and support the peaceful protests taking place in our City and are proud of our youth’s leadership in reaching out to so many people from all walks of life to come together with such heart and passion. Let this be the turning point our society must make so that everyone in our community can lead a life of dignity and promise.

Let us work together to make real progress, to learn from the experiences of others, to listen with empathy to new voices—voices unheard for too long—and to examine our own views and protest peacefully for this change. We know the answer is not violence. Let us come out of this time stronger and better.

Benicia Chief of Police Erik Upson “I’m very proud of the culture we have built in this department and the humanistic approach we take that focuses on the community. I know there is more we can do, and I look forward to making changes that will strengthen our relationship with those we serve.”

The death of George Floyd is appalling and unacceptable, and we condemn the actions of those four police officers in Minneapolis. Chief of Police Erik Upson said, “I’m very proud of the culture we have built in this department and the humanistic approach we take that focuses on the community. I know there is more we can do, and I look forward to making changes that will strengthen our relationship with those we serve.”

We are confident in Chief Upson’s leadership and the Benicia Police Department’s training and practice of de-escalation, and community policing as well as his sincere desire to listen to the community and continue to advance the Department towards its vision.

We are committed, as leaders in Benicia, to better outcomes for our black community here and across our country. We honor peaceful protest and recognize the need for immediate and lasting social change. We hear you, we see you, we stand with you. By working together, Benicia will be a community where everyone is valued and respected.

Great info about Benicia Police Dept policies – and a bunch of questions

By Roger Straw, June 10, 2020

City of Benicia publishes new “Use of Force Policy Review” web page, makes Policy Manual available to public – and pledges to remove choke hold from police policy

I almost always read the City Manager’s weekly newsletter.  But you know how email inboxes can get out of control…

So I missed a really important City of Benicia newsletter this Monday.  City Manager Lorie Tinfow shared information there about Benicia’s response to the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the subsequent nationwide protests and calls for police reform.  Here is her June 8 message for Benicians concerned about police violence and racial justice.  Read on, but don’t miss a number of my own concerns and questions that follow below.

City Manager Newsletter, June 8, 2020

“The past two weeks have been extremely tumultuous. The killing of George Floyd was the tipping point for many in our country and those participating in the protests and civil unrest that have followed have called for many necessary changes. And they are beginning to happen.

Friday night, Benicia Police Department (BPD) was notified that Governor Newsom ordered the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (P.O.S.T.) to remove the Carotid Control hold from training certification. The change was immediately communicated to our Police Officers. This change seemed to follow an effort called 8cantwait.

Late last week we began to receive emails asking that we enact changes aligned with 8cantwait. Police Chief Upson evaluated the requested changes and directed his staff to create a webpage that offers information designed to increase transparency. The page includes a comparison of what BPD currently does with what 8cantwait wants as well as a table that shows total calls for service with instances of use of force for the past 3 years. Click here to visit the new webpage.

On the new page is also a link to the complete use of force policy that is posted online as required by law. For those interested in reading more, click here to view the policy.

During last week’s protest, the Benicia Police Officers who assisted, performed their duties exceptionally well. They managed traffic and helped keep the space safe for the participants. The officers’ response when at the police station in particular garnered my confidence and my respect. Click here to view the video in case you missed it. Clearly the protesters’ passions ran high but they too performed well, helping bring attention to the much needed changes across the country.

We are all navigating these uncharted waters to the best of our abilities. I appreciate the community, City staff and the City Council for maintaining the connections that keep Benicia strong. Benicia is better together!”

TRANSPARENCY WELCOME

These new developments and the transparency embraced by our City Manager and Police Chief are to be applauded.  I believe that the Police Policy Manual has never before been disclosed to the public, and the Use of Force webpage is an excellent way to engage the public in further conversations.  These moves are significant and show personal and professional judgement in a time of profound unrest and hunger for reform.

BREAKING NEWS: NO MORE POLICE CHOKE HOLDS IN BENICIA

The City’s new “Use of Force Policy Review” web page clarifies current BPD policy and announces that “We will be removing carotid control hold from our policy.”

That policy (§300.3.4, Carotid Control Hold, pp. 48-49) takes up two pages in the current BPD Policy Manual Exactly when and how the manual will be revised and adopted is not clear to me as of now.

CONTINUING QUESTIONS AND CONCERNS FOR BENICIA POLICE

There is more to be done.  City staff, electeds and community members should continue to ask questions and raise concerns.

For instance:

Use of Force Policy Review page on the City website
  1. The “Use of Force Policy Review” page on the City website is a good start. The chart compares 8cantwait.org policy recommendations with BPD policy.  It’s important to note at top that we will be “removing carotid control hold from our policy” (§300.3.4, pp. 48-49).  But other than that, in most cases the BPD column qualifies each policy with “when reasonably necessary,” “where feasible,” etc., which seems a bit weak…  Maybe that’s the best we can hope for?
  2. The final item on that page is requiring comprehensive reporting. The BPD policy is to document all use of force promptly, but it does not address the 8cantwait recommendation to report any time an officer threatens to use force.  Should we consider adding that to our BPD policy?
  3. The 2017-2020 statistics provided on the page are interesting, but pretty thin on facts, context, details.  It would be especially of interest to know about the racial characteristics of suspects and officers involved in these incidents.  Can the BPD make more information available?
  4. It is GREAT that no major injuries have been sustained by suspects or officers in use of force incidents over the past 3 years. But it is noteworthy that tasers have been used in 6 of the last 7 incidents (2019-2020), but prior to that only once in 11 incidents (2017-2018).  Why has the use of tasers increased?  And what are the “minor injuries” that are reported with nearly every use of tasers?
  5. It is GREAT that the public now has access to the BPD’s Policy Manual.  But gosh, it’s 756 pages long!
    • I would assume new officers are required to read the whole thing.  And take a test?
    • How often are officers required to review the document and then take a refresher test?
    • I understand that the BPD is to be commended for its strong emphasis on frequent training exercises.  Have our officers had a recent in-service training on Use of Force policies?  This might be welcome in the current time of unrest and reform.
Other concerns and questions
  1. The BPD Policy Manual has 7 references to “community policing.” It might be well to highlight and expand upon this official Department philosophy in a news conference and/or press release, as well as in an internal BPD memo or workshop.
  2. The BPD Manual lays out crowd control measures and has extensive policies governing discipline. Will the BPD review these policies carefully in light of recent times?  One suggestion: Minneapolis Police Chief Arradondo announced today (June 10) that the MPD will begin tracking disciplinary data as compiled by Benchmark Analytics, and that the Department will rely on this data rather than the authority of a supervisory officer when making decisions related to hiring and firing.  Perhaps the BPD hiring and disciplinary policies could be reviewed in light of this?
  3. Questions about race and gender: How many BPD officers are there, and how many are Black, how many Hispanic, how many Asian, how many White, etc.? How many male and female officers?  The BPD Policy Manual is clear in opposing all forms of discrimination (§328.2, p. 156).  But is the Department under any obligation or philosophical intent to achieve racial and gender balance?  Does the BPD have any official goal statement on recruiting women and minority officers?

City of Vallejo and CA Dept of Justice join to reform Vallejo police policies and practices

Vallejo mayor Bob Sampayan welcomes Department of Justice help

Jorge and Lynda Moreno, former roomates of Sean Monterrosa, protest in front of City Hall prior to a Friday afternoon march. Monterrosa was killed by a Vallejo police officer on Tuesday morning. (Chris Riley — Times-Herald)
Vallejo Times-Herald, by John Glidden, June 6, 2020

“We need a police department our community can trust.”

Vallejo Mayor Bob Sampayan said Saturday he fully supports a partnership between the city of Vallejo and the California Department of Justice to put together a policing plan that will reform the department’s policies and practices.

“We need to have an objective and impartial eye to look at the police department,” added Sampayan, a retired sergeant with the Vallejo Police Department.

On Friday, both the city and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced the collaboration three days after Sean Monterrosa, 22, was shot and killed outside a Vallejo Walgreens.

Monterrosa is the fourth person to be fatally shot by Vallejo police during the past four years.

“Our communities are safer when our police departments can build public trust through good policies, practices, and training. This review and reform agreement we announce today with the City of Vallejo represents a critical step the Vallejo Police Department must take to build trust with people who have lost faith in them,” Becerra said in a news release. “When our communities speak up, we must listen — and, in recent days, people across California and the nation, and in Vallejo have bravely come together to make their voices heard. This is only a first step in our broader fight for racial justice. We must all do our part, and we must do it now.”

The Bay Area News Group, along with the Times-Herald, and Open Vallejo reported Friday that Vallejo officer Jarrett Tonn shot and killed Monterrosa after the officer mistook a hammer in Monterrosa’s waistband for a gun. Tonn fired his service weapon at Monterrosa through the windshield of his police cruiser outside the Walgreens on Redwood Street.

Police were responding to a call of looting at the store as the entire city of Vallejo was under a curfew.

Vallejo police Lt. Michael Nichelini, president of the Vallejo Police Officer’s Association, couldn’t be reached for comment on Saturday about the collaboration between the city and the California Department of Justice.

The union did release a statement on Friday in response to the Monterrosa shooting, stating “the officer is facing multiple death threats to him and his children. We ask the public to support this officer and the good work the overwhelming majority of all officers perform to keep our communities safe.”

“Throughout the night officers were responding to groups of armed looters all over the city. Seconds before this confrontation in the parking lot of a Walgreens, an officer put on the radio that it appeared the looters were armed. As officers arrived, Mr. Monterrosa was attempting to flee with others in a vehicle. Rather than continuing his escape, Mr. Monterrosa chose to engage the responding officers,” the VPOA statement reads. “Mr. Monterrosa abruptly pivoted back around toward the officers, crouched into a tactical shooting position, and grabbed an object in his waistband that appeared to be the butt of a handgun. At no time did Mr. Monterrosa make any movements consistent with surrendering. Fearing that Mr. Monterrosa was about to open fire on the officers in the vehicle, the officer was forced to fire multiple rounds through his windshield. The officer used deadly force as a last resort because he had no other reasonable option to prevent getting shot.”

Sampayan said he’s confident the comprehensive policing plan will help improve the relationship between the community and police department.

“This will help to bring back the public’s trust, having an open and transparent police department,” he added. “Our police chief, Shawny Williams, has been tasked with change — I have a lot of faith in Chief Williams.”

Sampayan confirmed by signed the Mayor’s Pledge issued by former President Barack Obama to address police use of force policies. He also said he’s pursuing the policies in “8 can’t wait,” which include banning police choke holds, requiring de-escalation, requiring a warning before police shoot, exhausting all other methods before shooting, having a duty to interfere, banning shooting at moving vehicles, requiring use of force continuum, and requiring comprehensive training.

“I want to start a dialogue with the community,” Sampayan previously said.

Following a closed session of the Vallejo City Council on Friday, it was announced councilors had directed city staff to place an item on Tuesday’s council agenda to ratify an agreement with the California Department of Justice (Cal DOJ).

The seven-person council will also vote on directing staff to a letter to Becerra, asking his office to conduct a thorough and independent criminal investigation into the Monterrosa shooting.