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Why the rash of Bay Area police shootings?

May 30, 2017

by Davey D

Last week I noted that there had been a rash of police shootings all over the Bay Area and some of y’all thought I was literally seeing or making up things. Well over the Memorial Day weekend we had three people shot by Bay Area police in two days.

Angry Oaklanders marched along Lake Merritt on June 12, 2015, to protest the OPD murder of Demouria Hogg, 30, who left behind three children, ages 10, 8 and 1. – Photo: Mathew Sumner, SF Chron

One person was shot and killed Monday morning in Vacaville after an officer followed a man who has yet to be identified in a stolen car. According to reports, the officer was waiting for back up when he felt it was necessary to shoot and kill the man.

A man who was described as mentally ill was shot and killed by police in San Jose. Police say the man had an ax, dropped it, didn’t react to tasers and then picked up the ax again and charged officers.

When KNTV out of San Jose reported the story, they noted that this was the third police officer shooting in the month of May and that six people with mental illness have been shot and killed by police in San Jose this year. Y’all sit with that sobering thought for a minute.

Again, in almost all the cases described these mentally ill folks have charged police with a knife or some sort of club causing them to be shot.

When current San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia spoke at his press conference, he noted that the public needs to understand the toll all these shootings have on police officers. Again, shooting mentally ill folks is taxing.

Despite these tweets plainly threatening to murder Black Lives Matter protesters, Phillip White was rehired by the San Jose Police Department.

Folks should be reminded that last year San Jose Police rehired a racist cop named Phillip White who sent out tweets threatening to shoot and kill Black Lives Matter protestors. His tweets set off a storm of outrage. He was fired and then reinstated, leaving folks to wonder if Officer White’s comments reflect the culture embraced by many on that force. I posted White’s tweets below.

The other police-involved shooting took place in Fremont. According to police, the suspect, a Black man who was 20 years old, was being chased by an officer in the parking lot off Mowry Ave and Blacow Road. The man in question was said to have threatened folks with a pipe. He ran when an officer arrived on the scene.

According to a couple of witness interviewed on local news outlets, the man had his hands in the air when the officer shot him. You can watch KNTV or KTVU to see the story. Police say they found the pipe. One witness said she didn’t see a pipe when he was shot. The officer was said to be waiting for backup when he shot dude.

Also, I’m reminded that no one came to help the guy who was shot for a while. It was almost as if police wanted him to bleed out. Remember in SF how they did that with Kenneth Harding back in 2011? The man shot in Fremont is in the hospital as we speak.

For Fremont, this is their fourth police shooting this year, which is highly unusual. One of the shootings took place in March when Fremont police were 20 miles away in another city, Hayward, looking for a stolen car.

Despite these tweets plainly threatening to murder Black Lives Matter protesters, Phillip White was rehired by the San Jose Police Department.

They wound up shooting and killing a pregnant 16-year-old girl who was a passenger in the car. According to the police, the driver attempted to flee and backed into a police car in his attempt. That’s when officers fired. Alameda County DA Nancy O’Malley has not pursued any charges.

Three police shootings in two days is a lot. Ten police shootings in six months by two police departments is a lot. One doesn’t have to look to places like Texas, St. Louis or Louisiana or other Trump-loving states to see questionable police shootings. A lot is happening right here in the Bay Area.

On another note, two years ago, on June 6, 2015, Oakland police shot and killed a sleeping Demouria Hogg near the 580 freeway exit off Lakeshore Ave. They tried to wake him up and he was unresponsive even when police shot beanbags in his back window.

Police saw a gun on the side of his seat. In full view of scores of onlookers at the nearby Farmers Market, police swarmed the car and shot Hogg while he slept. I have photos of the incident, since I was one of the onlookers.

Anyway, that shooting was highly upsetting for many in the community. It touched off lots of demonstrations. On the two-year anniversary of Hogg’s shooting, Starbucks on Lakeshore Ave, which is a block away from where Hogg was killed, had posted signs advertising a “Have Coffee with a Cop” event.

This is the same Starbucks which removed all its electrical outlets and put locks on the bathroom doors in their attempt to get rid of homeless folks. It hasn’t worked. Homeless are still there and customers are angry.

One has to wonder: Is this cop-and-coffee event Starbucks or OPD’s attempt to heal wounds in a city still grieving and reeling from Hogg’s death and a sex abuse scandal involving dozens of officers? Will bridges be built, or is this just gentrifying newcomers to the city being tone deaf to what long-time residents are experiencing and feeling?

Davey D can be reached at mrdaveyd@gmail.com or on Facebook. Visit his website, Davey D’s Hip Hop Corner, and his blog, Hip Hop and Politics, and listen to him weekdays at 4 p.m. on KPFA’s Hard Knock Radio.

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