Souza Admits “Inconvenient Truth” Racial Profiling Does Exist in Davis

It was somewhat surprising to see in the California Aggie on Tuesday that City Councilmember Stephen Souza acknowledged “that racial profiling exists in Davis.”

This follows a year where several of his colleagues — repeatedly — stated that they had reviewed a number of recent complaints against the police department and found them to be totally without merit.

One of the people who came forward during that time was Jamal Buzayan. Another was Bernita Toney who has now had her complaints against the police department vindicated and validated in a court of law as she now awaits an attorney to take up a civil suit on her behalf against the city of Davis.

Recently Mr. Souza suggested on this blog, that the issue for him “is not should the City have oversight [but rather it] is what type we should have.”

The California Aggie quotes him as wondering how often racial profiling occurs.

“What I want to know is if there are cases that have been specifically cited by individuals in the community,” he said. “I want to know if there’s truth to those allegations. If we find cases of racial profiling in Davis, I want make sure they are dealt [with] appropriately and they will never happen again.”

While I have generally been a proponent of transparency in governmental actions, especially law enforcement, my biggest concern has always been that those in government acknowledge that we have a problem. It was always clear that neither former councilmember Ted Puntillo nor current councilmember Don Saylor acknowledged that there was a problem. Mr. Puntillo used words like “forced” to describe the council’s move to install even an Ombudsman.

Without an acknowledgment that there exists a problem, it is difficult to enact policy that will lead to a solution for a problem. It is for that reason I was heartened to hear Mr. Souza acknowledge a problem.

The Davis Enterprise last night described an assembly at Davis High School on Tuesday for Black History Month. The keynote speaker was Ron Tyler of the ACLU. He called the issue of racial profiling another “inconvenient truth.”

The Davis Enterprise reports:

He focused on the issue of racial profiling and told the crowd they didn’t have to be people of color to experience profiling.

“Every teen who has gone to the mall has experienced age profiling,” he said, referring to young shoppers who are sometimes closely watched by store personnel.

Tyler, who is a lawyer, shared his own story of profiling. Going to a jail to meet with a client, he was stopped and searched by a police officer who didn’t know him.

While he chuckled at his own situation, he said, “For some people, the consequences of racial profiling are much more severe.”

“Take action,” he told his listeners, “beginning with self-awareness.”

Tyler warned the students to not let personal prejudices interfere. He also told them to speak up and to support one another, as well as support efforts to completely outlaw racial profiling.

“When we don’t stand up to inconvenient truths, everyone suffers,” he said.

Last May around 150 African American UC Davis students marched from the UC Davis Memorial Union to the Davis Police Station. For around two hours, student after student got up and gave testimonials about personal incidents where they believed they were racially profiled. I would estimate at least 20 to 30 students spoke about cases of harassment—many of them not minor.

The sad thing about this incident is that it could have brought about community dialogue. Not one of the city councilmembers at that time were at this rally. The Davis Police Officers for the most part stood behind the glass, often snickering and joking with one another rather than listening to the very credible accounts of racial profiling. The police chief at the time, refused to come out and address the concerns of the crowd.

Recently the Ombudsman Bob Aaronson lamented on the lost opportunity that the Buzayan Case represented to the community.

“As I was quoted in a recent Sacramento Bee article, the Buzayan matter was a missed opportunity to begin a meaningful community dialogue around law enforcement issues… Every honest person who played a role in the Buzayan matter must, in hindsight, admit that he’d/ she’d do some things better, more circumspectly, if a ‘do over’ were possible. Healing requires acknowledgment of as much by everyone. Those who haven’t benefitted (sic) from hindsight will simply repeat their mistakes, to the community’s and their own detriment.”

This march was another lost opportunity for dialogue. Councilmember Souza is unsure how widespread the problem of racial profiling is in Davis? He was on the Human Relations Commission for a number of years and undoubtedly heard many complaints over the years. He was on the watch, when a State Senator’s Staffer endured a racial profiling incident several years back while precinct walking in Davis. And had Mr. Souza been at the rally he would have heard many credible stories and complaints. Furthermore Mr. Souza has sat behind the dais and heard even more as individual after individual came forward last March to press their complaints. And then previously in February. And yet again in April.

The African Americans in this community would tell Mr. Souza, if he asked, that this has been a problem not for years but for decades. That it arises as a public issue every few years but rarely is something done to change it. Hiring an Ombudsman was a good first step, but it remains the first step rather than the completion of the solution. There is much more work that needs to be done.

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

Author

  • David Greenwald

    Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

Categories:

Civil Rights

92 comments

  1. I partially disagree with your assessment that: “Without an acknowledgment that there exists a problem, it is difficult to enact policy that will lead to a solution for a problem.”

    On racial profiling specifically, why cant we enact a solution even though there is little or no acknowledgement?

    If what we seek is some adjudication sustaining an act of racial profiling against a generally sophisticated profession (cops), before we can find solutions, we will be waiting a long time. It is doubtful that there would ever be such a finding by a city or quasi-city body. (other than civil rights lawsuits – which are far and few between because of lack of damages to support the actions like those reported to have occurred in Davis.)

    How would there ever be a finding that there was racial profiling (absent some overt provable racial evidence- a slur, etc)? It would mean the termination of the career of the offending officer (followed by the officer’s own employment lawsuit), etc.

    Why dont we be practical and skip the sole pursuit of trying to get internal affairs to admit to a case of racial profiling and work to address it as if racial profiling is occuring.

    Answer: Training. How come no one in this community mentions training. It is legally mandated for all cops by California state law.. have your cops had the required training? Most small police outfits dont comply with training requirements.

  2. I partially disagree with your assessment that: “Without an acknowledgment that there exists a problem, it is difficult to enact policy that will lead to a solution for a problem.”

    On racial profiling specifically, why cant we enact a solution even though there is little or no acknowledgement?

    If what we seek is some adjudication sustaining an act of racial profiling against a generally sophisticated profession (cops), before we can find solutions, we will be waiting a long time. It is doubtful that there would ever be such a finding by a city or quasi-city body. (other than civil rights lawsuits – which are far and few between because of lack of damages to support the actions like those reported to have occurred in Davis.)

    How would there ever be a finding that there was racial profiling (absent some overt provable racial evidence- a slur, etc)? It would mean the termination of the career of the offending officer (followed by the officer’s own employment lawsuit), etc.

    Why dont we be practical and skip the sole pursuit of trying to get internal affairs to admit to a case of racial profiling and work to address it as if racial profiling is occuring.

    Answer: Training. How come no one in this community mentions training. It is legally mandated for all cops by California state law.. have your cops had the required training? Most small police outfits dont comply with training requirements.

  3. I partially disagree with your assessment that: “Without an acknowledgment that there exists a problem, it is difficult to enact policy that will lead to a solution for a problem.”

    On racial profiling specifically, why cant we enact a solution even though there is little or no acknowledgement?

    If what we seek is some adjudication sustaining an act of racial profiling against a generally sophisticated profession (cops), before we can find solutions, we will be waiting a long time. It is doubtful that there would ever be such a finding by a city or quasi-city body. (other than civil rights lawsuits – which are far and few between because of lack of damages to support the actions like those reported to have occurred in Davis.)

    How would there ever be a finding that there was racial profiling (absent some overt provable racial evidence- a slur, etc)? It would mean the termination of the career of the offending officer (followed by the officer’s own employment lawsuit), etc.

    Why dont we be practical and skip the sole pursuit of trying to get internal affairs to admit to a case of racial profiling and work to address it as if racial profiling is occuring.

    Answer: Training. How come no one in this community mentions training. It is legally mandated for all cops by California state law.. have your cops had the required training? Most small police outfits dont comply with training requirements.

  4. I partially disagree with your assessment that: “Without an acknowledgment that there exists a problem, it is difficult to enact policy that will lead to a solution for a problem.”

    On racial profiling specifically, why cant we enact a solution even though there is little or no acknowledgement?

    If what we seek is some adjudication sustaining an act of racial profiling against a generally sophisticated profession (cops), before we can find solutions, we will be waiting a long time. It is doubtful that there would ever be such a finding by a city or quasi-city body. (other than civil rights lawsuits – which are far and few between because of lack of damages to support the actions like those reported to have occurred in Davis.)

    How would there ever be a finding that there was racial profiling (absent some overt provable racial evidence- a slur, etc)? It would mean the termination of the career of the offending officer (followed by the officer’s own employment lawsuit), etc.

    Why dont we be practical and skip the sole pursuit of trying to get internal affairs to admit to a case of racial profiling and work to address it as if racial profiling is occuring.

    Answer: Training. How come no one in this community mentions training. It is legally mandated for all cops by California state law.. have your cops had the required training? Most small police outfits dont comply with training requirements.

  5. “On racial profiling specifically, why cant we enact a solution even though there is little or no acknowledgement?”

    While I understand your point, I also think a solution requires follow through and vigilance and without acknowledging the problem it seems difficult to do the hard work.

  6. “On racial profiling specifically, why cant we enact a solution even though there is little or no acknowledgement?”

    While I understand your point, I also think a solution requires follow through and vigilance and without acknowledging the problem it seems difficult to do the hard work.

  7. “On racial profiling specifically, why cant we enact a solution even though there is little or no acknowledgement?”

    While I understand your point, I also think a solution requires follow through and vigilance and without acknowledging the problem it seems difficult to do the hard work.

  8. “On racial profiling specifically, why cant we enact a solution even though there is little or no acknowledgement?”

    While I understand your point, I also think a solution requires follow through and vigilance and without acknowledging the problem it seems difficult to do the hard work.

  9. Sometimes, publicly overly- pressing an issue after it has been “won” can be counterproductive. The hard work and SACRIFICE of the “fired” HRC, this blog and the facts that have been put before the good citizens of Davis in the past year or two are bearing fruit. Souza(and Saylor, I suspect),up for reelection next year,are reading the political handwriting on the wall
    and hope that the Davis voters will not notice that they are reinventing themselves.

  10. Sometimes, publicly overly- pressing an issue after it has been “won” can be counterproductive. The hard work and SACRIFICE of the “fired” HRC, this blog and the facts that have been put before the good citizens of Davis in the past year or two are bearing fruit. Souza(and Saylor, I suspect),up for reelection next year,are reading the political handwriting on the wall
    and hope that the Davis voters will not notice that they are reinventing themselves.

  11. Sometimes, publicly overly- pressing an issue after it has been “won” can be counterproductive. The hard work and SACRIFICE of the “fired” HRC, this blog and the facts that have been put before the good citizens of Davis in the past year or two are bearing fruit. Souza(and Saylor, I suspect),up for reelection next year,are reading the political handwriting on the wall
    and hope that the Davis voters will not notice that they are reinventing themselves.

  12. Sometimes, publicly overly- pressing an issue after it has been “won” can be counterproductive. The hard work and SACRIFICE of the “fired” HRC, this blog and the facts that have been put before the good citizens of Davis in the past year or two are bearing fruit. Souza(and Saylor, I suspect),up for reelection next year,are reading the political handwriting on the wall
    and hope that the Davis voters will not notice that they are reinventing themselves.

  13. I want to point out that Souza is admitting that there is a problem.

    I agree that training is important, but leadership and setting an example by our veteran officers is also important. We really need to restore community pride in our police force; a belief that our officers are defending the constitutional rights of all citizens.

    The Davis police department has had diversity training, but it may have been resented by the officers. Training on racial profiling should be part of a normal training program; the same way firearms training is required annually.

  14. I want to point out that Souza is admitting that there is a problem.

    I agree that training is important, but leadership and setting an example by our veteran officers is also important. We really need to restore community pride in our police force; a belief that our officers are defending the constitutional rights of all citizens.

    The Davis police department has had diversity training, but it may have been resented by the officers. Training on racial profiling should be part of a normal training program; the same way firearms training is required annually.

  15. I want to point out that Souza is admitting that there is a problem.

    I agree that training is important, but leadership and setting an example by our veteran officers is also important. We really need to restore community pride in our police force; a belief that our officers are defending the constitutional rights of all citizens.

    The Davis police department has had diversity training, but it may have been resented by the officers. Training on racial profiling should be part of a normal training program; the same way firearms training is required annually.

  16. I want to point out that Souza is admitting that there is a problem.

    I agree that training is important, but leadership and setting an example by our veteran officers is also important. We really need to restore community pride in our police force; a belief that our officers are defending the constitutional rights of all citizens.

    The Davis police department has had diversity training, but it may have been resented by the officers. Training on racial profiling should be part of a normal training program; the same way firearms training is required annually.

  17. I think that there is a simple explanation for Souza’s remarks to the Aggie: it was African American history month.

    Now, that the calendar has turned to March, we can anticipate a return to the old head in the sand attitude.

    Given the hostility that Saylor, Souza and Asmundson has shown towards this issue, it is probable that the ombudsperson and the new chief will implement procedures to insulate the historic practices of the DPD from the need to change.

    Researchers at Rice University recently published a study to the effect that whites look to the presence of blacks in schools as the primary basis for deciding to live in a community, independent of other socioeconomic factors, such as class and median income.

    The DPD conducts itself in such a way to make Davis appealing to such people, and it was not much of a transition to focus their attention on a Muslim family like the Buzayans.

    –Richard Estes

  18. I think that there is a simple explanation for Souza’s remarks to the Aggie: it was African American history month.

    Now, that the calendar has turned to March, we can anticipate a return to the old head in the sand attitude.

    Given the hostility that Saylor, Souza and Asmundson has shown towards this issue, it is probable that the ombudsperson and the new chief will implement procedures to insulate the historic practices of the DPD from the need to change.

    Researchers at Rice University recently published a study to the effect that whites look to the presence of blacks in schools as the primary basis for deciding to live in a community, independent of other socioeconomic factors, such as class and median income.

    The DPD conducts itself in such a way to make Davis appealing to such people, and it was not much of a transition to focus their attention on a Muslim family like the Buzayans.

    –Richard Estes

  19. I think that there is a simple explanation for Souza’s remarks to the Aggie: it was African American history month.

    Now, that the calendar has turned to March, we can anticipate a return to the old head in the sand attitude.

    Given the hostility that Saylor, Souza and Asmundson has shown towards this issue, it is probable that the ombudsperson and the new chief will implement procedures to insulate the historic practices of the DPD from the need to change.

    Researchers at Rice University recently published a study to the effect that whites look to the presence of blacks in schools as the primary basis for deciding to live in a community, independent of other socioeconomic factors, such as class and median income.

    The DPD conducts itself in such a way to make Davis appealing to such people, and it was not much of a transition to focus their attention on a Muslim family like the Buzayans.

    –Richard Estes

  20. I think that there is a simple explanation for Souza’s remarks to the Aggie: it was African American history month.

    Now, that the calendar has turned to March, we can anticipate a return to the old head in the sand attitude.

    Given the hostility that Saylor, Souza and Asmundson has shown towards this issue, it is probable that the ombudsperson and the new chief will implement procedures to insulate the historic practices of the DPD from the need to change.

    Researchers at Rice University recently published a study to the effect that whites look to the presence of blacks in schools as the primary basis for deciding to live in a community, independent of other socioeconomic factors, such as class and median income.

    The DPD conducts itself in such a way to make Davis appealing to such people, and it was not much of a transition to focus their attention on a Muslim family like the Buzayans.

    –Richard Estes

  21. I have mentioned training in interviews, reports, and in discussions.

    Not only do officers need more training and proper training, but we need to have the city recruit officers with experience and education. Then, there can be a better pay associated with the positions and more ongoing training as opposed to just a one time training.

    The work that our officers do is very important and very challenging. I’m all for helping to ensure that we recruit the best officers that will uphold the law and in turn provide the officers incentives for doing so.

    There of course should be no rewards for profiling or for poor work such as that which was done on the Buzayan case or on Bernita’s case where information was falsified on a police report.

  22. I have mentioned training in interviews, reports, and in discussions.

    Not only do officers need more training and proper training, but we need to have the city recruit officers with experience and education. Then, there can be a better pay associated with the positions and more ongoing training as opposed to just a one time training.

    The work that our officers do is very important and very challenging. I’m all for helping to ensure that we recruit the best officers that will uphold the law and in turn provide the officers incentives for doing so.

    There of course should be no rewards for profiling or for poor work such as that which was done on the Buzayan case or on Bernita’s case where information was falsified on a police report.

  23. I have mentioned training in interviews, reports, and in discussions.

    Not only do officers need more training and proper training, but we need to have the city recruit officers with experience and education. Then, there can be a better pay associated with the positions and more ongoing training as opposed to just a one time training.

    The work that our officers do is very important and very challenging. I’m all for helping to ensure that we recruit the best officers that will uphold the law and in turn provide the officers incentives for doing so.

    There of course should be no rewards for profiling or for poor work such as that which was done on the Buzayan case or on Bernita’s case where information was falsified on a police report.

  24. I have mentioned training in interviews, reports, and in discussions.

    Not only do officers need more training and proper training, but we need to have the city recruit officers with experience and education. Then, there can be a better pay associated with the positions and more ongoing training as opposed to just a one time training.

    The work that our officers do is very important and very challenging. I’m all for helping to ensure that we recruit the best officers that will uphold the law and in turn provide the officers incentives for doing so.

    There of course should be no rewards for profiling or for poor work such as that which was done on the Buzayan case or on Bernita’s case where information was falsified on a police report.

  25. Community pride in our police department will be restored when there is some acknowledgment of wrong doing and apologies given to families and individuals who have been wronged by false police reports and Gina Anderson’s faulty internal investigative process.

    And the commission members and chair who had the finger pointed at them for supposedly making law enforcement look bad.

    I think the voters will have to take these matters to the polls, since Souza and Saylor are up for re-election.

    We’ll watch and see them spin themselves out of this one as the Buzayan case plays out in court beginning in April.

  26. Community pride in our police department will be restored when there is some acknowledgment of wrong doing and apologies given to families and individuals who have been wronged by false police reports and Gina Anderson’s faulty internal investigative process.

    And the commission members and chair who had the finger pointed at them for supposedly making law enforcement look bad.

    I think the voters will have to take these matters to the polls, since Souza and Saylor are up for re-election.

    We’ll watch and see them spin themselves out of this one as the Buzayan case plays out in court beginning in April.

  27. Community pride in our police department will be restored when there is some acknowledgment of wrong doing and apologies given to families and individuals who have been wronged by false police reports and Gina Anderson’s faulty internal investigative process.

    And the commission members and chair who had the finger pointed at them for supposedly making law enforcement look bad.

    I think the voters will have to take these matters to the polls, since Souza and Saylor are up for re-election.

    We’ll watch and see them spin themselves out of this one as the Buzayan case plays out in court beginning in April.

  28. Community pride in our police department will be restored when there is some acknowledgment of wrong doing and apologies given to families and individuals who have been wronged by false police reports and Gina Anderson’s faulty internal investigative process.

    And the commission members and chair who had the finger pointed at them for supposedly making law enforcement look bad.

    I think the voters will have to take these matters to the polls, since Souza and Saylor are up for re-election.

    We’ll watch and see them spin themselves out of this one as the Buzayan case plays out in court beginning in April.