Tag Archives: Public protest

Year of calamities taking toll on mental health

Mental health professional: “In the past two weeks, my practice has exploded.”

San Francisco Chronicle, by Steve Rubenstein and Nora Mishanec, Sep. 11, 2020
Michael Waddell, a professional dog walker, out in Alamo Square Friday. He said the loss of dog-walking business has caused him more stress than the recent meteorological calamities.
Michael Waddell, a professional dog walker, out in Alamo Square Friday. He said the loss of dog-walking business has caused him more stress than the recent meteorological calamities. Photo: Nora Mishanec / The Chronicle

In a year of wondering what could possibly come next, the next things just keep on coming.

After eight months, they’re starting to add up, say mental health experts. And there’s lots of 2020 left, plenty of time for more next things.

“I’ve been hearing the word ‘apocalyptic’ a lot,” said San Francisco psychiatrist Scott Lauze. “I’m doing a tremendous amount of hand-holding these days. You can’t even rely on the color of the sky anymore.”

Lauze, in private practice for three decades, said he had never seen the call for his services take off like right now.

“In the past two months, there was a significant uptick in demand,” he said. “In the past two weeks, my practice has exploded.”

Pandemic, social unrest, heat waves. Wildfires. Smoke. Mass evacuations. Therapists call them stressors, and there has been no shortage of things to get stressed over.

And this just in: ash raining from the heavens, and darkness at noon.

“I couldn’t fall asleep,” said San Francisco nurse Valieree MacGlaun, who works the night shift and was walking home Friday on Divisadero Street from the VA hospital in her scrubs.

She said she feels overwhelmed, though her job is to help other people overcome feeling overwhelmed.

“This is my calling,” she said. “But you have to take care of yourself.”

Connie and Michael VonDohlen flew from their home in Tennessee to San Francisco on Wednesday to attend their daughter’s wedding, just in time for the dark orange daytime skies that made some locals say it felt like living on Mars. Streets were deserted. The VonDohlens, who don’t seem to shock easily, said they were shocked.

“We thought we had gone into the Twilight Zone,” Michael VonDohlen said. “I was expecting zombies to jump out from every doorway.”

“The fires, added to the pandemic, and the inability to escape — all that adds to the potential for hopelessness,” said emergency room psychiatrist Yener Balan, head of behavioral health services at Kaiser Permanente Northern California.

Calamity and malaise are part of the human condition, he said, and pondering the world wars endured by prior generations can put a virus or a wildfire in perspective.

Coronavirus live updates: SF urges people to stay inside due…
“As a species, we are resilient,” he said. “Many generations have seen this level of calamity.”

Taking care of oneself, living in the moment, checking in with family and friends, getting enough exercise and sleep — those are the keys to coping, Balan said. And turning off the TV and the computer when enough is enough — that helps, too. It also reduces exposure to the added stresses of a national election and its apocalyptic nuances.

“Just when you think you’re beginning to deal with one disaster, another one comes along,” said David Spiegel, a psychiatry professor at Stanford University. “Patients who have been stable are experiencing an exacerbation of depression and anxiety.”

The year 2020, he said, is turning out to be a “remarkable test of everyone’s ability to cope.”

Trying to cope in Alamo Square, while holding three dogs on a leash, was professional dog walker Michael Waddell. He used to wear a plain mask, for the virus. Now he wears a mask with an air filter, for the virus and the smoke. Different disaster, different mask.

Two in 5 U.S. adults say they are “struggling with mental health or substance abuse” since the pandemic hit, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And the “prevalence of symptoms of anxiety disorder” were triple those of last year, the report added.

Even if psychiatrists are doing more business these days, Waddell said, dog walkers aren’t. Business has largely fallen off as people staying home can walk their own dogs.

Waddell’s usual complement of dogs is six. Losing half his income, Waddell said, “has added more to my immediate stress than the smoke or the wildfires.”

Dogs, who have no problem living in the moment, help. So do hobbies, said Melissa Smith, who was waiting for 5-McAllister bus. She said her therapy was to try “old lady hobbies.”

“This is the perfect excuse to take up knitting,” she said. “It’s a good outlet for the frustration. You need something to channel your energy.”

Smith was on her way home, where the knitting was waiting.

“What better place to practice peace than the middle of a storm?” she said. “I just think, after this, we are all going to be so resilient.”

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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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.

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.