Category Archives: Racial bias

Benicia Black Lives Matter – CALL TO ACTION!

Do you believe Black lives matter? Then answer this call to action

By email, October 29, 2021

Benicia Black Lives Matter (BBLM) is a values-driven, grassroots, volunteer organization that is dedicated to affirming and improving Black lives in Benicia and beyond. Designing and monitoring accountability structures within local government and institutions—including law enforcement—is an essential part of achieving this mission.

Incidents demonstrating a sustained pattern of racial bias, excessive force, and misconduct within the Solano County Sheriff’s Office, along with Sheriff Tom Ferrara’s open unwillingness to observe accountability and transparency norms, are too numerous to recount here. These allegations of excessive, often racialized violence as well as documented support among his staff for anti-government and white supremacist ideologies, together with the sheriff’s refusal to discipline his staff for misconduct even when recommended by neutral investigatory bodies such Internal Affairs, should concern every Solano County citizen.

When it became clear that the sheriff was not meeting the requirements of his position, BBLM initiated a cross-organizational call to action spanning multiple municipalities, collecting volunteers and allies across many diverse groups and organizations. This coalition now requests help from this same community—your help—at the upcoming Board of Supervisors meeting, to voice our shared concerns and call for change.

This Tuesday, November 2, at 9 am, the Solano County Board of Supervisors will meet to consider utilizing Assembly Bill 1185 to create a community-based civilian oversight board for the sheriff’s office. Such a board would provide a communication channel between the Board of Supervisors and the sheriff’s office, allowing the supervisors to respond to non-criminal complaints from their constituents when the sheriff’s office is involved; create a process to file complaints independent of the sheriff’s office when public trust has eroded; give our community the reassurance that review processes are thorough and bad actors are held accountable for misconduct; strengthen the sheriff and his staff’s relationships with the community they are in service to; and improve trust in law enforcement in Solano County in general.

Anyone can attend the board meeting in person or via Zoom; the details to attend are available on the Solano County website ( You may also submit written comments to

BBLM strongly encourages anyone who has ever considered themselves to be an ally, supporter, or accomplice in the march toward equity for all in this city, this county, and this country to take this opportunity to be heard. Solano citizens cannot have confidence in Sheriff Ferrara’s leadership and authority until there is an open, fair discussion about the value a community-based oversight board could create when confidence in Sheriff Ferrara and the sheriff’s office is at an all-time low. We all deserve more.

At the meeting, or in your email, ask supervisors to authorize county staff to move forward with research and evaluation of an oversight board, or to allow Solano voters to weigh in.

This is your chance to be heard, and to be a part of making change happen here in Solano County, in support of Black lives, and in support of the community and the spaces we share together. Please act.

Benicia Black Lives Matter, BBLM

Benicia Mayor Steve Young on racism in Benicia: ‘We do, in fact, have a problem’

Steve Young on Facebook, April 18, 2021

On the hate crime last weekend and the arrest

Benicia Mayor Steve Young

I recently received an email from a member of the community asking me to push back against the idea that Benicia has a problem with racism. They argued that Benicia Black Lives Matter is overstating the degree of racism in our town. I responded by saying that there was, in fact, a problem here that needed to be acknowledged. They politely, but firmly, disagreed.

The incident on April 10 in the Raley’s parking lot, where three young Black teenagers were subjected to racial slurs by a white Benicia resident who later threatened them with an airsoft pistol, showed that an idealized version of Benicia is not the reality. It was the most recent and overt example of racism here, but it was not the only one. A white Benicia fisherman was captured on camera berating a group of Asian-Americans on the pier for fishing in “his” spot, and asking where “they” came from.

The young victims at the Raley’s center are understandably traumatized by this act of racist hate and intimidation. The alleged perpetrator was quickly arrested by Benicia police on several counts, including perpetrating a hate crime. He is currently out on bail, and charging decisions will be made by the District Attorney.

There are clearly too many people in Benicia, be they citizens or visitors, who still suffer from racial bias (both conscious and unconscious), and too many people of color who suffer direct and indirect discrimination. Whether the bias comes from blatant hatred, ignorance or lack of education/information, it is real and it needs to be acknowledged before it can be meaningfully addressed.

The City has taken the first steps by hiring a part-time Racial and Equity Manager to help us review our own practices. Benicia is approximately 30% minority, but the makeup of our various Boards and Commissions, as well as our overall city employment, does not reflect that level of representation.

Clearly, there is work that needs to be done to make our community more inclusive and welcoming to all of our residents. But that work must start with acknowledging that we do, in fact, have a problem.
We can do better as a community by opening our mind and listening to each other. Hate and racism have no place in Benicia, and we must do our best to make this a more welcoming and inclusive city.