Where is Kamala Harris on this Mario Woods Killing?

Davey-D-purple-frameIn the wake of last week’s brutal police execution of Mario Woods by San Francisco police in Bayview Hunters Point, many are asking where is California State Attorney General Kamala Harris?

She was elected with the hope and expectation, naive as it may be, that she of all people would be out there weighing in and demanding justice for Mario. The hope and expectation was not only would she be sympathetic, but legislatively effective and politically impactful to issues of concern from the communities that backed her. In this case the issue front and center for many in California is police terrorism.

Shelly Tatum addressing the capacity crowd at Shipwreck

Shelly Tatum addressing the capacity crowd at Shipwreck

Kamala got her political jump off in the Bayview as was noted last week by her good friend and long time SF activist and promoter Shelly Tatum. He stood before a standing room only crowd of more than 500 people inside the St Paul of the Shipwreck Church and talked about how before anyone really knew who Kamala was, she had reached out to his family for help.

Tatum talked fondly of Harris. He talked about how he saw her go from assistant district attorney in Oakland to two term district attorney of San Francisco of San Francisco to two term state Attorney general of California. She is perched to replace out going US Senator Barbara Boxer. “She was someone to believe in”, he noted.

Gwendolyn Woods

Gwendolyn Woods

Shelly told, Mario’s grieving mother Gwendolyn Woods, what took place was beyond egregious. He added, that he had never asked Kamala for any favors but promised he would personally call her and press her to get involved with this case.

Tatum then turned to the audience and somberly stated: “Kamala, I say this to you. I love you. We love you. Bayview Hunter’s Point, the Black community of San Francisco, helped get you to where you are today… and today, we need you.”

He then asked the capacity crowd to repeat loudly in unison: “Kamala Harris!…. We need you today!”.

Kevin Epps

Kevin Epps

In the days that followed we seen and heard a number of other prominent folks from the Bayview public call for Harris to step up including ‘Straight Outta Hunter’s Point’ film maker Kevin Epps as well as Minister Christopher Muhammad of Mosque 26. He is on widely circulated video calling for Chief Greg Suhr to his face to step down and calling for Kamala Harris to get involved.  Sadly Harris has thus far been pretty much absent from the fight.

https://vimeo.com/148163570

Now in the past, people have given Kamala  Harris a bit of a pass when she was running for State Attorney General where she would replace then outgoing Jerry Brown who is now our governor. People figured they’d hold back and not upset the proverbial apple cart so she could get into the top position and then make moves. Once she became State Attorney General, instead of going hard on police accountability, Harris has been currying favor with police unions.

Here’s a breakdown on this…

THE RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN DAs & POLICE

kamala Harris

Kamala Harris

Back in January of this year (2015) during her inauguration Kamala Harris  pledged to do a series of reforms to help restore trust between police and communities of color. She gave the usual line of calling for more sensitivity training, pushing body cameras and insisting on community policing.

She completely sidetracked the main police accountability measure that has been vigorously pushed up and down the state by damn near every organization fighting for police reform which is special prosecutors in cases of police shootings. Folks have been crystal clear, that the day to day relationship local prosecutors have with police puts victims of police terrorism at a severe disadvantage. There’s an inherent conflict of interest.

This conflict was glaring during the Oscar Grant case back in 2009. Many forget that in the beginning Alameda County prosecutor Tom Orloff refused to investigate, much less charge BART cop Johannes Mehersle. I was present when over 100 black ministers, elected leaders and community activists came to his office on the morning of Grant’s funeral and demanded he step up and press charges on Mehersle.

At first Orloff refused to meet, with folks.  Alameda County supervisor Keith Carson convinced him otherwise. He then tried to hand pick two or three people to speak with and that was rejected by the crowd at hand. Finally everyone piled into his conference room where he dragged his feet and made no commitment to go after Grant’s killer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=biU2Eza9p50

It was only after intense political pressure both locally and nationally that Orloff finally pressed charges. It was an unusual move but resulted in a conviction. That was the first time that had happened in California history. Mehesrle was due to get 14 years, but the pro-cop judge Robert Perry down in LA where the trial was moved, vacated 10 years, claiming he ‘made a mistake’.

With regards to district attorneys  we’ve seen time and time again from place to place, a reluctance for prosecutors to go after ‘killer cops’. From Ferguson to Staten Island to Cleveland to LA, to Houston to Chicago and beyond, the bonds between cops and DAs are too strong. Their political ties are even stronger.

We saw those strong political ties in Ferguson in the case around Mike Brown and DA Bob McCulloch.  We’ve seen this playing out in Cleveland around the Tamir Rice case with DA Timothy J. McGinty.

THE ANDY LOPEZ CASE

RIP Andy Lopez

Andy Lopez

Here in the Bay Area, we witnessed how the political interests of district attorney Jill Ravitch and Sonoma County sheriffs trounced over justice around the case of Andy Lopez.

For those who are unaware, in October of 2013, 13-year-old Andy Lopez was gunned down in Santa Rosa, California by a Sonoma County deputy sheriff named Erick Gelhaus as he was walking in field to return a toy gun that a friend had left at his home.

The field Andy was walking by was a well known spot where neighborhoods kids frequently do target practice with their pellet guns. It’s the same field where they hold pellet gun and paint ball leagues. In short holding an Airsoft rifle like the one Andy was holding, was not an unusual site in Santa Rosa.

Erick Gelhaus

Erick Gelhaus

Gelhaus upon seeing Lopez claims he thought the gun was real because it didn’t have an orange tip. He drove his patrol car up behind him and told the kid to stop. As Lopez turned around, the officer claimed he ‘feared for his life’ and shot him 7-10 times. Month’s earlier, Deputy Gelhaus had penned an article in a police trade publication instructing officers how they can clear themselves of wrongful shootings especially if it involves toy guns…

The shooting set off 60 days of protests in Santa Rosa, led mostly by Lopez’s middle school classmates who were devastated at the loss of the popular student. It was 54th killing in 10 years in that area with the Brown/Latino community being disproportionately on the receiving end of many of those deaths. They had enough and pushed the for the DA Jill Ravitch to press charges. Initially she stalled on making a decision and then she flat out refused.

Santa Rosa DA Jill Ravitch

Santa Rosa DA Jill Ravitch

It was revealed there was this political relationship between the sheriff and Jill Ravitch, meaning they were both campaigning and pushing for each others respective re-election bids and attending each others fundraisers. In fact the sheriff directly contributed to Ravitch’s campaign…

According to Civil Rights lawyer Jon Melrod who was key organizer around the Justice for Andy Lopez efforts, numerous calls were placed over and over asking for Kamala Harris to intervene. The community called for an independent special prosecutor to eliminate what they perceived as conflict of interest.. Those calls were met with deafening silence.

KAMALA’S  SILENCE GETS POLICE UNION SUPPORT

Kamala HarrisMany figured Kamala who was gearing up for the 2014 re-election was trying to stay above the fray and not piss off California police unions whose endorsement she wanted but did not actually need. Many forget that in her first election, most police unions in Cali got behind her opponent and she still won.

Police were upset with Harris and avoided endorsing her because as San Francisco district attorney she refused to seek the death penalty against David Hill a man from the Bayview who was accused of killing police officer Isaac Espinoza back in 2005. They held that against her in 2010 when she first ran for State Attorney General.  This time as she is running for US Senate, she wanted police union support in hand. This is important to note and here’s why …

Kevin McCarthy

Kevin McCarthy

In January of 2015 around the same time Kamala announced her package of police reform proposals, Sacramento Assemblyman Kevin McCarty proposed bill AB 86 the Peace Officers: Department of Justice: independent Investigation bill. Basically his bill would mandate that the Attorney General’s office would review and handle all police shootings. This is what folks had been fighting for all these years. The California Peace Officers’ Association opposed the bill before it even hit committee.

Kamala side stepped it and by publicly stating she is ‘philosophically disinclined to take away the discretion of local elected officials’. In short,  lets keep the status quo and lets not piss off the police unions.

One month after stating her position the Los Angeles Police Protective League came out and endorsed her bid for US Senate. Many political pundits feel that move derailed any chance of former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa who was threatening to challenge Harris in her Senatorial bid to jump into the race. Read about that HERE- http://lat.ms/1R9Ukzz

More police unions are expected to line up behind Harris as the latest newspaper headlines detail her opening up campaign offices on Sacramento K Street, the Democratic Party expressing concern that she is spending too much money on her campaign and medical marijuana clubs throwing weight behind her republican opponent because she is distancing herself from them.  What we have not seen or heard publicly is Kamala Harris weigh in the Mario Woods killing. See for yourself HERE- http://bit.ly/1R9UcAf

She hasn’t even weighed in on the recent major 5 part expose by the UK Guardian that shows the most dangerous police department in all the US is located here in Cali’s Kern County. What routinely takes place here is heart wrenching. 13 people have been killed by police in 2015. 79 have been killed since 2005. The expose has been met with stone walled silence Read about that HERE-http://bit.ly/1jO27oa

Robert Murray

Robert Murray

Perhaps we should not be surprised when you consider that Kamala Harris has a rather interesting relationship with law enforcement in that county. Earlier this year Kern County deputy prosecutor Robert Murray admitted to falsifying a confession transcript that he provided to a defense attorney during plea negotiations.

The false confession would’ve sent the defendant away for life. When this false confession was realized, the judge threw out the case and Murray was facing possible suspension from the state bar.

In this particular case,  Kamala Harris did intervene. She stated to the appeals court that the prosecutor’s actions were “not outrageous” and that only physical abuse would warrant the dismissal of the charges. Yes indeed she said that. The courts rejected her arguments. You can read about that HERE- http://bit.ly/1SO2gnK

CONCLUSION

Kamala HarrisKamala Harris in her political ascent has attempted to remain above the frey and absent from some very important fights. Her absence leads one to wonder, what good is it to have Black and Brown faces in high places if they are not going to step in and change the game when the community needs them most?

Harris has the power to change the game right now as state Attorney General, not as US Senator where she has to obtain favorable votes from the majority of 49 other senators to get a bill passed. As AG she can jump into controversial cases where the community is crying out and level the playing field.

When running for her current position, Kamala Harris said she was there to protect the most vulnerable and voiceless people. From Santa Rosa, to Kern County and now the Bayview, vulnerable people are crying out.  We should not forget that vulnerable and voiceless people came out for her big time in 4 major elections. There is no doubt Kamala is expecting folks to come out and generously support her bid for Senate. When will Kamala come out for them is the 64k question?

PS Today Dec 9th 2015, The SFPD Police union has just come out backing the actions of the officers who executed Mario Woods..Will Kamala  back the unions or the people who voted for her??

written by

Davey D

People are urged to call or write to Kamala Harris Let her know the following

The San Francisco Police Department has lost our confidence after the shooting death, recorded on video, of Mario Woods. We demand that California Attorney General Kamala Harris immediately appoint a special prosecutor in this case. The San Francisco Police Department cannot police itself.” How’s that?

Attorney General’s Office
California Department of Justice
Attn: Public Inquiry Unit
P.O. Box 944255
Sacramento, CA 94244-2550. Public Inquiry Unit
Voice: (916) 322-3360 or
(Toll-free in California)
(800) 952-5225
Fax: (916) 323-5341.
Email contact form: https://oag.ca.gov/consumers

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Opb-LNkFXng

 

Comments

  1. LaQuisha Beckum says:

    We had this conversation earlier in the week Dave. ..she doesn’t and would NEVER get my vote for Senate! I stand firm in that and like how you laid this all out for people to see. ..

  2. She’s with Clinton and Newsom, counting votes and waiting to see which way the wind blows. While he’s still just a politician and not perfect, Bernie Sanders is the pick of the litter. Just my 2c.
    https://berniesandewrs.com/issues/racial-justice