9:17 am UPDATED: To include a statement from Geneviéve Jones-Wright
Here’s what we know: An event honoring past and present police officers planned for Saturday, February 24 at the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation didn’t happen as scheduled.
The keynote speaker for the event was to be public defender Geneviéve Jones-Wright, whose candidacy for County District Attorney has provoked a strongly negative response from the law enforcement establishment.
City Council candidate Monica Montgomery and black community activists have announced plans to address the circumstances surrounding the Black History Month event at San Diego City Hall prior to a Council meeting that includes confirmation of a new Chief of Police.
The party line inside the department, I’m told, is the Black History Month event was postponed due to insufficient notices being given to dignitaries and community members. A meeting with new chief police David Nisleit is reportedly scheduled for March 7 to discuss possibly holding the event at a later date. The SDPD has not responded to a request for a statement on this matter.
In the hours following cancelation/postponement, I received a half-dozen messages from individuals pointing the finger at an individual in District Attorney Summer Stephan’s office, whose objections about the keynote speaker were blamed for the decision to pull the plug.
Members of the committee charged with planning the Black History Month event were reportedly upset by what they saw as politics being allowed to influence an event dedicated to highlighting African American Law Enforcement personnel.
Jones-Wright, who is challenging the appointed incumbent in the DA’s office in the June 5 primary, would be the first black DA in San Diego history.
Sgt. Arthur Scott, vice president of the San Diego Black Police Officers Association, was listed as the organizer in an announcement for the event posted to Facebook. Scott’s Facebook page has been made private over the weekend and attempts to get a statement from him have been unsuccessful.
Sergeant Arthur Scott resigned as the Vice President of the San Diego Black Police Officers Association last year. He no longer a member of the organization according to Benjamin A. Kelso, President, San Diego Black Police Officer’s Association
I’m told Geneviéve Jones-Wright will, for now, likely be included in any future rescheduling of the event, which now won’t happen during Black History month.
Jones-Wright wasn’t having any of the SDPD/DA’s party line about what didn’t happen on February 24:
It is a truly unfortunate and childish abuse of power to interfere with a community event just to stop your opponent from having time to speak.
The event was meant to honor the accomplishments of past and present African-American personnel, and instead, it’s being politicized by my opponent and her cronies.
For someone who calls herself “law enforcement’s choice,” she clearly doesn’t mean all law enforcement, especially when it does not fit her political narrative.
Let’s be clear, the action’s of San Diego County’s stand-in DA show a readiness to misuse her power to further her personal interests.
Her candidacy has provoked a strong reaction from the law enforcement establishment, in part because she’s advocated for reforms in the way the District Attorney’s office pursues justice.
The DA’s office has been involved in opposing reforms in the criminal justice system approved by California voters in recent years.
As I said in a profile of Jones-Wright last fall:
The issue with San Diego County’s District Attorney and the criminal justice system nationally is ending the mistaken practice of trying to incarcerate our way out of crime. It is local prosecutors who drive mass incarceration, and it is local prosecutors who can end it.
There are some types of crimes the County District Attorney has been unable or unwilling to prosecute, namely those like to infringe on the local (partisan) political establishment.
Opposition to her candidacy includes a shadow social media account posting near-daily accusations of Jone-Wright being funded by liberal billionare George Soros, and suggesting she’ll unleash dangerous criminals to roam the streets of San Diego. (FYI – In extreme right-wing circles Soros name is a codeword for ‘Jews.’)
Following are some examples of their handiwork:
On a related note, there will be a press conference Tuesday evening prior to the meeting of the Community Review Board On Police Practices (CRB) at Cherokee Point Elementary School.
Speaking at the press conference will be Bishop Cornelius Bowser from San Diego’s Charity Apostolic Church; Reverend Shane Harris, Ordained Baptist Minister Civil Rights & Social Justice Activist; Yusef Miller, with Mosques Against Trafficking and Board member of the SD Regional Interfaith Collaborative; Christie Hill (ACLU); Robert Branch III, a local survivor/victim of the Chokehold protocol performed on him by an off-duty Sheriff’s Deputy in 2015; Marc Kohnen, Branch’s attorney; and Desiree Grant whose son was put into a vascular restraint (Chokehold) in 2014 while a student at Lincoln High School.
At issue is a recommendation from the CRB relating to the continuing practice of using chokeholds by the SDPD. Tonight’s agenda includes an SDPD presentation by those who train officers on the use of the chokehold protocol.
The CRB meeting begins at 6pm.
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