Four of New York City’s district attorneys say they will file motions in coming weeks to toss out 700,000 old warrants issued for low-level offenses like drinking in public and riding a bicycle on a sidewalk, reports the New York Law Journal. Prosecutors in Queens, the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan will move to dismiss warrants that are 10 years old or older that stem from NYPD summonses. The mass clearance will dismiss a significant portion of the city’s roughly 1.5 million outstanding warrants.
When warrants aren’t cleared, those who have them are subject to automatic arrest for years and decades to come, even if they come in contact with police because they were involved in a minor traffic accident or while reporting a crime. Bronx DA Darcel Clark said the motions for clearance should not be viewed as mass amnesty. “We’re not telling everyone it’s OK to get a summons and not show up,” Clark said. But she said many of the cases are unprosecutable because of legal sufficiency issues.
The fired Balch Springs cop who fatally shot 15-year-old Jordan Edwards was indicted Monday on a murder charge by a Dallas County grand jury.
Jordan’s family and their attorney said they were “cautiously optimistic” after Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson announced the indictment against 37-year-old Roy Oliver.
Oliver was also indicted on four counts of aggravated assault by a public servant for firing his rifle into a car full of teenagers leaving a party April 29. Jordan, who sat in the front passenger seat, was struck in the head. His two brothers and two friends were also in the car.
Balch Springs Police Chief Jonathan Haber originally said the Chevrolet Impala was aggressively reversing toward Oliver and Officer Tyler Gross, but body camera footage contradicted that story. Oliver was fired and arrested on the murder charge in May.
Johnson said prosecuting Oliver is not a “political statement” but rather the right thing to do, something she believes most police officers would agree with.
“I think our police officers would stand with us and say, ‘We do not condone bad behavior,'” she said. “Hopefully, it is a message we are sending to the bad police officers. If you do wrong, we will prosecute you.”
Oliver’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment.
Lee Merritt, the family’s attorney, said he was pleased to see Johnson go forward with plans to prosecute Oliver, something that other district attorneys might not do in similar police shootings.
“Far too often we see cases where there’s been a lack of comparable effort in cases that are equally deserving,” Merritt said after the announcement. “We are satisfied with this step.”
That case was investigated more thoroughly after Jordan’s death. Originally Dallas police said no crime occurred.
The attorneys for Jordan’s family have been critical of how Dallas police handled the road-rage incident.
“Had Dallas taken some action on that particular night when they knew that this officer placed a gun to someone’s head, Jordan would be with us here today,” said attorney Daryl Washington, who also represents the family.
Oliver faces up to life in prison for each of the seven felony charges against him. Although no date has been set for Oliver’s trial, Johnson said prosecutors will first pursue the murder charge against Oliver.
Johnson declined to elaborate on the details of the case, but said she is dedicated to “seeking justice for Jordan.”
“We believe we have a very strong case,” Johnson said. “We’re planning to win this case.”
Many who have been strongly advocating that prosecutors move forward with the case have questioned whether the district attorney’s office could win a conviction after so many officers nationwide have been acquitted in shootings of unarmed black men.
But another attorney for Jordan’s family, Jasmine Crockett, said she is no longer one of them.
“There’s no question now in my mind whether he’s going to be locked up,” she said.
In the meantime, Oliver is free on a $700,000 bond related to the murder charge and aggravated assault charges stemming from the road-rage incident. A judge did not increase that bond for the four new aggravated assault charges.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Monday complained about a “disturbing trend” in which the U.S. Supreme Court appears more likely to intervene on behalf of police officers than the people they shoot.
Sotomayor lobbed her complaint in a dissent from a cert denial (PDF) in an excessive force case. The dissent, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, included a footnote that read, “Some commentators have observed the increasing frequency of incidents in which unarmed men allegedly reach for empty waistbands when facing armed officers.”
Sotomayor argued that the court should have accepted a case that involved Ricardo Salazar-Limon, who was shot in the back by a Houston police officer as he walked back to his car. The officer said he shot Salazar-Limon in October 2010 because the suspect ignored his order to stop, turned toward the officer, and raised his hands toward his waistband. Salazar-Limon had said he was trying to walk away from a confrontation.
The shooting happened after Salazar-Limon was pulled over for suspected drunken driving and then resisted being handcuffed. Salazar-Limon sustained “crippling injuries” as a result of the shooting, according to Sotomayor.
Because there were competing accounts of the incident, the case should not have been decided by summary judgment, Sotomayor said.
The cert denial, Sotomayor wrote, “continues a disturbing trend regarding the use of this court’s resources. We have not hesitated to summarily reverse courts for wrongly denying officers the protection of qualified immunity in cases involving the use of force. … But we rarely intervene where courts wrongly afford officers the benefit of qualified immunity in these same cases.”
Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. concurred in the cert denial in an opinion joined by Justice Clarence Thomas. Alito said Salazar-Limon never refuted the officer’s claim that he had reached with his waist.
“It is clear,” Alito wrote, “that the lower courts acted responsibly and attempted faithfully to apply the correct legal rule to what is at best a marginal set of facts.”
Alito also said that Sotomayor had not cited any cases in which the Supreme Court failed to grant cert on behalf of an alleged victim of unconstitutional police conduct that was similar to the cases in which it granted relief for police officers.
“This is undeniably a tragic case,” Alito wrote, but the court rarely grants review when a petitioner alleges a lower court erred in applying a settled rule of law to particular facts.
The case is Salazar-Limon v. Houston. SCOTUSblog has coverage.
Twenty-three years after the fact, incontrovertible evidence that officers at both the street and command levels allowed their professionalism to be compromised by the cavalier treatment of evidence at the scene of a murder is on the brink of being put on the public record as the result of a lawsuit brought by two current members of the Fontana Police Department.
The mishandling of evidence – the body of the deceased – was the product of, at best, a racially insensitive moment of jest on the part of one or more officers and, at worst, a manifestation of racism that may have allowed the perpetrator of murder to escape being brought to justice.
The larger implication of the incident, now nearly a quarter of a century in the past, is that not only the members of the department who were involved, many of whom are now retired but the department’s administration and now by extension the city’s municipal management, political leaders and its attorneys have been brought in on what amounts to 23-year running cover-up, which they are seeking to perpetuate into the future.
What all this comes down to at this point is whether Superior Court Judge Wilfred J. Schneider, Jr. will permit the evidence that will establish the tampering with evidence took place, delineating the Fontana Police Department as a bastion of racism that is devoted more to perpetuating a culture of prejudice than to ensuring equal protection under the law.
On June 30, 2016, David J. Moore Sr. & Andrew Anderson, represented by attorneys Bradley C. Gage and Milad Sadr, filed a lawsuit in San Bernardino Superior Court against the City of Fontana, alleging discrimination, retaliation and failure to take corrective action.
According to the suit, the 189-member Fontana Police Department is comprised of sworn officers who are predominantly white, such that it has never had more than four African American officers on the force at any given time, despite African Americans comprising more than 10 percent of the city’s population, while employing fewer than thirty Latino officers – roughly 15 percent – even though Hispanics comprise nearly 70 percent of the city’s population. According to the suit, the police department’s administration is even more lopsidedly out of step with the city’s demographics, which has perpetuated an atmosphere in which the department has condoned the mistreatment of minorities.
Manifestations of the culture include, according to the suit, officers referring to African Americans as “niggers, “silverbacks” and “wild monkeys” and to Hispanics using derogatory terms such as “wetbacks and beaners and pink panties.”
The suit maintains that because of the general dearth of minority officers on the force and because of the growing reluctance of the department’s white officers to engage in certain enforcement activities involving blacks and Latinos, Moore, who is African-American, has been detailed to an overwhelming number of calls involving Fontana’s minority community. Among those are what the lawsuit designates as difficult and politically sensitive cases such as those referred to by department members as Acute Political Emergency (“APE”) cases. It is alleged that several of these APE cases are racially charged. If these cases are not handled properly and with the utmost care and correctness, it could cost the investigator his or her career. Other corporals in the department are not assigned to these cases. This has led to the perception that the department’s upper chain of command is engaging in some “strategic planning” to better the chances of Corporal Moore making a mistake and being terminated, according to the suit.
Anderson, who is of mixed background but self-identifies as a Latino, has sought to become a field training officer with the department. Those efforts have met with rejection, based upon the department’s assertion he lacks the requisite experience. Several Caucasian officers with less experience than Anderson have been given field training officer assignments.
Moreover, according to the lawsuit, the Fontana’s Police Department’s administration has reserved plum assignments and its most prestigious positions for white officers, with just a few token promotions of Hispanics. One such example cited in the suit is that of the Special Enforcement Detail (SED), the most hallowed of the department’s divisions and from the ranks of which all, or nearly all, of the department’s commanders, are promoted. Currently, in the SED, there are 19 white members and one Hispanic. There are no African American Members.
The suit alleges that in 2006, upon receiving an electronic Martin Luther King doll which played the “I have a dream” speech as a retirement gift, Lieutenant Tim Newsome mutilated the doll’s speaking mechanism and Lieutenant Bob Morris tied a noose around the doll’s neck and then lynched it in effigy from a ceiling rafter inside the department’s crime prevention unit.
Moving beyond atmospherics, one element of the case Gage and Sadr are attempting to present is how the ingrained racist policies in the department endangered public safety by interfering with a murder investigation. According to the suit, in 1994 an African American male murder victim, Jimmy Earl Burleson, was discovered behind the Kentucky Fried Chicken eatery on Sierra Ave in Fontana. A cop while at the scene of the murder thought it would be funny to place a piece of chicken in the Burleson’s hand, to make it look like he was stealing a chicken from the restaurant before he was killed. A photograph was taken, and then circulated around the department for years.
This behavior by a Fontana Police Department officer or officers would potentially have been prosecutable as a felony under PC 141, which pertains to the planting or tampering of evidence, which is an obstruction of justice crime. In the specific instance of the deceased man at KFC, the manipulating of his body could be viewed as tampering with evidence.
In this case, the tampering with evidence was done as some order of a joke or prank, intended to be taken in a comical spirit among police officers. This action on the part of a police department member or members was also potentially prosecutable as a violation of the California Health and Safety Code Section 7070.5, which states that every person who knowingly mutilates, disinters, wantonly disturbs, or willfully removes any human remains in or from any location is in violation of the law.
Best Best & Krieger attorneys Howard B. Golds and Joseph Ortiz, who are seeking to defend the City of Fontana and the police department in the face of the Anderson/Moore lawsuit, will be filing court papers, referred to as motions in Limine, seeking to exclude certain evidence from being considered at the trial. One of those items of evidence for which exclusion will almost certainly be sought is the photo of the deceased Burleson, Kentucky Fried Chicken leg in hand.
Coming as it does at this time, the Anderson/Moore suit has even greater implication than it might at another point. In April, a date for the trail will be determined. The case will go before a jury in April, even as advocates of removing Fontana Mayor Acquanetta Warren from office will be turning what is anticipated to be the final corner in attempting to obtain a sufficient number of signatures of Fontana voters to put a recall question against her on the ballot.
In most city governments, municipal departments work hand in hand with one another to ensure the safety of the city and its citizens. The fire department and the police department usually function as a well oiled machine under the ultimate control of municipal administration and in unison with the other city divisions to make sure this happens. The fire and police departments, along with the city government, work collaboratively and with the best interest of the other departments in mind. In Fontana this is no different. Fontana’s mayor, Acquanetta Warren, as commander and chief of the city, works with the city council, the city manager, Ken Hunt, the police department, fire department, as well as other entities to make sure that the city is protected, prospering and, as the mayor is often quoted as saying, on the, “up and up.”
Ethics in any type of government is a pillar of its success. When the people in the important positions like mayor, city manager, city council, and police chief have a sense of duty and ethics in the way they conduct themselves, it shows in their productivity. At all stages of government, there is an occasional occurrence of unethical behavior. The philosopher David Hume stated that the mental faculties, secret propensities and animal passions of man are so interwoven, it is sometimes difficult from his actions to detect the impulses, or nominate the emotions, by which he is incited or induced to act; and he often acts under a combination of influences. Because there are so many different forces and factors that encompass a person and weigh on him, such as societal, social, and behavioral elements, making the rightful and honest choice in any decision is difficult.
Hume also stated that man is naturally selfish and this quality of human nature is dangerous to society and seems on a cursory view incapable of remedy; and there is no element in human nature which causes more fatal conduct than that which leads us to prefer what is present to the distant, which makes humans desire objects more according to their immediate situation than their intrinsic value. Because of this, men will falsify reports, steal, be negligent, or engage in a host of other wrong actions to do anything that assures their continuity in the present. The problem with this is that they are not worried about the important intrinsic fundamental values that are overall more important than one individual, especially in the community sense. Those values are honesty, trust, fairness, respect, responsibility, and courage.
Some see in the Anderson/Moore lawsuit an attempt to hold government officials accountable, to register in the public record that the leaders of a city government – in this case Fontana – have been presented with information about a systemic problem – racism – within the city. Whether Judge Schneider will permit Gage and Sadr to paint as stark of a picture of that systemic problem as they intend is a yet outstanding question. Whether Mayor Warren and other city officials such as city manager Ken Hunt will choose to close their eyes and look the other way is another question that is pending. Given the current accusations of negligence lodged against her as a consequence of the recall, Warren is in the position of being perceived as an accessory after the fact to the activity in the police department that is now about to go under a microscope.
Penal Code 32 states the definition of accessory: When a person not actually or constructively present but contributing as an assistant or instigator to the commission of an offense —called also accessory before the fact. Second, a person who knowing that a crime has been committed aids or shelters the offender with intent to defeat justice —called also accessory after the fact.
Gage and Sadr are looking to make a case that police department supervisors knew a crime occurred but failed to act, or failed to report the illegal actions of the racist officer who altered a crime scene. Later they aided in the crime by demanding or otherwise arranging that the evidence of the altered evidence – the photos of Burelson – be removed from booking, Gage and Sadr allege. They maintain this cover-up formed into a major conspiracy to obstruct justice. California Penal Code Section 182 PC makes it illegal to be part of a criminal conspiracy. Conspiracy is a felony-level offense that can carry severe consequences for those convicted.
The Sentinel has confirmed that the photo of Burleson, with a chicken bone in his hand, does in fact exist. The half-eaten chicken leg was visible in the decedent’s hand as the autopsy was being performed. One photo taken during the autopsy clearly depicts an African American man cut open on the coroner’s table, while the chicken bone remained in his hand. According to witnesses at the time, the bone was placed in Burleson’s hand as a cruel, racist joke.
The photos in question were brought to the attention of, and submitted to, Fontana Police officials. Once this information reached the command level, there was no investigation of the incident. Instead, the offending photos were removed from the compendium of photos which were to be booked into evidence. This was the first attempt to cover-up the crime of tampering with a corpse and police evidence. Nevertheless, the photos were allowed to circulate within the department and many cops passed the photos around and made fun of the horrible crime. This showed, according to Gage and Sadr, the openly racist environment of the Fontana Police Department during that time. The supervisors who covered up the crime rose in ranks and were promoted at the Fontana Police Department, composing what is today the police department’s top administration.
Moreover, the incident has implication beyond the confines of the Fontana Police Department. In one picture, the deceased, an African American with the partially eaten chicken bone clenched in his hand, is shown lying filleted on an autopsy table at the San Bernardino County Morgue. The photo shows the corpse on the examiner’s table and that an autopsy was conducted or is in the process of being conducted. The photo was taken from behind his head while he was lying on the autopsy table.
This crime occurred while those who perpetuated it were on duty, during the time, while, as agents of the law, they were sworn to professionally investigate the Burleson’s violent death. Unknown, precisely, was when the chicken bone was placed into the deceased’s hand, whether it was prior to or after arrival at the morgue, where a licensed doctor was present.
One Fontana police officer would go on record, or at least attempt to do so, protesting the desecration of a human corpse and the tampering with evidence. Former police Corporal Ray Schneiders did bring the incident to the attention of his supervisors, but he was ignored. Later he found himself targeted for retaliation for speaking up.
Schneiders was ostracized and harassed for years. Ultimately, he filed a civil lawsuit against the department and was subsequently granted a medical retirement. Using taxpayer money, the city used its hired legal guns – the law firms of Best Best and Krieger and the Jones and Mayer – to keep the word of the alteration/destruction of evidence relating to a homicide under wraps. Burleson’s murder was never solved.
According to sources inside and outside of the Fontana P.D, information pertaining to the police department’s alteration of evidence impacting a homicide investigation and the racist motivation behind it was provided to Mayor Acquanetta Warren, city manager Ken Hunt, the city council, former chiefs of police Larry Clark and Rodney Jones and other police officials.
Warren finds herself in a dilemma. She stands at a political crossroads, with a growing number of her constituents seeking to remove her from office. At the same time, she has wedded herself to the city’s establishment, which includes the police department. It is unclear what political, personal and ethical calculations she will make. She can maintain her alliance with the establishment, which might offer her support against the grass roots organizations looking to dislodge her. At the same time, she lives in a city where 81 percent of the population is either Hispanic or African American. If, on behalf of Anderson and Moore, Gage And Sadr succeed in pushing into the public consciousness the details about how the police department has operated, political expedience and her own desire for political survival may persuade Warren to join the chorus seeking reform in the Fontana Police Department and show, in her own words, that she really is on the “up and up.”
Written by Carlos Avalos
Carlos is an Investigative Journalist focusing on Police Corruption. A graduate of Cal State San Bernardino-B.A Political Science/ International Relations. California Democratic Delegate 47th District 2012-2016 Arizona State University- Masters in Public Policy.
The history of marijuana (or cannabis/THC) stems back over 10,000 years and is widely recognized as one of the most useful plants on the planet. Yet it was made illegal in the United States in the early 20th century due to political and economic factors.
History of The Drug
Let’s get one thing clear: marijuana was not made illegal because it caused “insanity, criminality, and death” as was claimed by Harry J. Anslinger. It was made illegal in an attempt to control Mexican immigration into the United States and to help boost the profits of large pharmaceutical companies.
Humans have been using the plant for almost 10,000 years to make necessary items such as clothing and pottery. But the first direct reference to a cannabis product as a “psychoactive agent” dates back to 2737 BC in the writings of the Chinese emperor Shen Nung.
Southern states feared the plant so much, it was called the “marijuana menace.”
The focus was on its healing powers, primarily how it healed diseases such as malaria and even “absent-mindlessness.” The plant was used recreationally by Indians and Muslims as well.
Marijuana in America
The drug was introduced into America by the Spanish in 1545, where it became a major commercial force and was grown alongside tobacco. Farmers mostly grew hemp instead of cannabis (a form of the plant that is very low in THC), and by 1890 it had replaced cotton as the major cash crop in southern states.
Hemp continued to flourish in the States until the 1910s when Mexicans began popularizing the recreational use of cannabis.
At the time, cannabis was not primarily used for its psychoactive effects. However, and quite frankly, many “white” Americans did not like the fact that Mexicans were smoking the plant, and they soon demonized the drug.
Around 1910, the Mexican Revolution was starting to boil over, and many Mexicans immigrated to the U.S. to escape the conflict. This Mexican population had its own uses for cannabis, and they referred to it as “marihuana.” Not only did they use it for medicinal purposes, but they smoked it recreationally – a new concept for white Americans. U.S. politicians quickly jumped on the opportunity to label cannabis “marihuana” in order to give it a bad rep by making it sound more authentically Mexican at a time of extreme prejudice.
It worked. Southern states became worried about the dangers this drug would bring, and newspapers began calling Mexican cannabis use a “marijuana menace.”
During the 1920s, many anti-marijuana campaigns were conducted to raise awareness about the many harmful effects the drug caused. These campaigns included radical claims stating that marijuana turned users into killers and drug addicts. They were all obviously fake, made up in an attempt to get rid of Mexican immigrants.
“A widow and her four children have been driven insane by eating the Marihuana plant, according to doctors, who say that there is no hope of saving the children’s lives and that the mother will be insane for the rest of her life,” read a New York Times story from 1927. It was clear the newspapers and tabloids were building a campaign against the plant, and much of it has been said to be based on racist ideologies against Mexican immigrants.
The “war against marijuana” arguably began in 1930, where a new division in the Treasury Department was established — the Federal Bureau of Narcotics — and Harry J. Anslinger was named director. This, if anything, marked the beginning of the all-out war against marijuana.
Anslinger realized that opiates and cocaine would not be enough to build his new agency, so he turned towards marijuana and worked relentlessly to make it illegal on a federal level. Some anti-marijuana quotes from Anslinger’s agency read:
“There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz, and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others.” “…the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.” “Marijuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality, and death.” “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.” “Marihuana leads to pacifism and communist brainwashing” “You smoke a joint and you’re likely to kill your brother.” “Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind.”
Yes, every single one of these claims is outrageous, but the strategy worked.
(Harry Anslinger got some additional help from William Randolph Hearst, owner of a huge chain of newspapers. Hearst had lots of reasons to help. First, he hated Mexicans. Second, he had invested heavily in the timber industry to support his newspaper chain and didn’t want to see the development of hemp paper in competition. Third, he had lost 800,000 acres of timberland to Pancho Villa and blamed Mexicans. Fourth, telling lurid lies about Mexicans [and the devil marijuana weed causing violence] sold newspapers, making him rich.)
The war on marijuana intensified in 1970, when the Controlled Substances Act was passed.
The two were then supported by the Dupont chemical company and various pharmaceutical companies in the effort to outlaw cannabis. Pharmaceutical companies were on board with the idea because they could not standardize cannabis dosages, and people could grow it themselves. They knew how versatile the plant was in treating a wide range of medical conditions and that meant a potentially massive loss of profits.
So, these U.S. economic and political powerhouses teamed up to form a great little act called The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937.
This act testified to the many harmful effects of marijuana and was obviously opposed by many. But it was ultimately the committee chairman who got this act passed in congress.
The chairman decided that
“high school boys and girls buy the destructive weed without knowledge of its capacity of harm, and conscienceless dealers sell it with impunity. This is a national problem, and it must have national attention. The fatal marihuana cigarette must be recognized as a deadly drug, and American children must be protected against it.”
And there you have it: 1937 marks the year where marijuana became illegal in the United States of America.
A man by the name of Harry Anslinger became the director of the newly established department — the Federal Bureau of Narcotics.
Anslinger teamed up with William Randolph Hearst (a newspaper company owner) and some big-time pharmaceutical companies, and together they launched an anti-marijuana campaign to profit off of manufactured medicine and deport thousands of Mexicans.
Marijuana was not made illegal because of its negative health impacts. It was these men who manipulated the public into believing the herb was deadly, and their impacts are still felt even today.
The war against marijuana intensified in 1970, when the Controlled Substances Act was passed. The future for marijuana is looking very bright.
During this time, marijuana, heroin, and LSD were listed as “schedule 1” drugs (having the highest abuse potential and no accepted medical use). Obviously, this goes against thousands of years of human knowledge where it was widely known that cannabis was one of the most beneficial herbs on the face of the planet.
Congress has repeatedly decided to ignore history to the benefit of big pharmaceutical companies, which bring in billions of dollars annually from selling cheaply manufactured medicine.
The “zero tolerance” climate of the Reagan and Bush years resulted in the passage of stricter laws, mandatory minimum sentencing for possession of marijuana, and heightened vigilance against smuggling at the southern borders. The “war on drugs” brought with it a shift from reliance on imported supplies to domestic cultivation.
It wasn’t until 1996 when California legalized marijuana for medical use. Alaska, Oregon, and Washington eventually followed suit. However, it has taken well over a decade for marijuana to reach recreational legalization in these states.
With all this being said, the future for marijuana is looking very bright. Marijuana advocates believe there is a chance for at least 11 more states to legalize recreational marijuana in the near future, which would be a huge leap forward in the grand scheme of things.
It has taken far too long to break the stigma attached to marijuana. Yes, like any drug, it can be abused. But to ignore its obvious health benefits in order to maintain large scale pharmaceutical operations and a monopoly on the health industry is ludicrous.
What started out as an undergraduate paper at my alma mater Cal State San Bernardino has turned into an obsession and quest for the truth. I still remember my professor, Dr. Al Mariam, one of the brightest individuals I have ever had the opportunity to meet, tell me, “You should get this published or start your own blog.” What Dr. Mariam was referring to was a paper I prepared for the Fontana Police Department. The class was Judicial Process and little did I know at the time this paper would transcend the classroom and lead me into me talking about issues that have and continue to impact the people who live in the city where I was raised, and put a spotlight on the corruption, racism, nepotism, and unethical behavior of a police department that has been in place and intact for more than five decades. At the end of 2014, I dug up my ten-page paper and decided to adhere to the opinion of my old professor Dr. Mariam.
It is well known in academia that it is relatively hard to get one’s work published in a scholarly forum or write a book. I set about fluffing my resumé and taking a crack at trying to add more to my undergraduate paper to see if I could get it published. I had no idea where to start. So I decided that I would write about the Fontana P.D and the Fontana city government, beginning with the Fontana P.D. So I started by requesting the names of all of the police chiefs in Fontana’s history.
I started with Henry Youngue. I decided to go online, type in the names of the chiefs and see what popped up. Not real scientific, but I had to start somewhere.
The information I have gathered was astounding. I have come across everything from billboards in Fontana being used to recruit Ku Klux Klan members, killing after killing at the hands of the Fontana P.D being labeled as within policy, blatant racism, and a host of other things. On October 22, 2015, my first letter to the editor at the Fontana Herald News was published. It was entitled Fontana Is Still Affected By Racism. I put this out because I felt compelled N. I knew it was the right thing to do, and although I knew I was not reinventing the wheel, I felt like I was heading down uncharted territory. In this article, I touched on Fontana’s KKK history and issues that I had received from my social media acquaintances about people’s opinions and or problems with the department. The people responded with accounts of sobriety and insurance check points that are suspected of targeting minorities through racial profiling, corruption, abuse of power, and a history of racism in the police department and local city government.
On March 18, 2016, I wrote my second letter to the editor. It was entitled Police Force Should Resemble Community. In this article, I wrote about the ethnic, racial disparity in law enforcement. I looked at the city of Colton, Rialto, San Bernardino, Pomona, and Fontana. I took into account the total number of these cities’ minority populations and compared them to the number of minorities working on each specific city’s police force. The cities mentioned do not have police forces that resemble the communities they serve. Even cities with a smaller minority population and sworn police force have more African American officers than Fontana and, with the exception of Colton, more Hispanic officers. The result of my findings was that Fontana had fewer minorities by percentage working on its police force than any other city mentioned, despite the fact it boasts a larger minority population overall.
Before I put out this second article, I came in contact with current and retired people in law enforcement, specifically the San Bernardino County Sheriff and the Fontana P.D.
I told them that I was researching and planning on publishing something hopefully about Fontana and its police department, and they responded that they could help me. I told them cops do not tell on cops and inquired as to what was going on. They said we are on the same mission that you’re on. “What is that?” I asked. As one put it, “To reveal the true nature of the Fontana Police Department.” At this very moment, I was reminded of that scene in the Matrix where Morpheus asked the Keanu Reeves character Neyo, “Do you want to know the truth?” Morpheus gave Neyo the option to take the blue pill, and the story ends and he believes whatever he wanted to believe, or if he takes the red pill he stays in never land, and he gets shown how deep the rabbit hole goes. Without hesitation, I took the red pill.
My third letter to the editor came out on April 28, 2016; it was entitled Back at The Lion’s Den, 13 years Later. This article was a little more personal because it had to do with my personal encounter with the Fontana P.D. In 2003 I was a senior at Henry J. Kaiser High School. That same year a South Fontana native named Jose Galvez was murdered at an ATM on Cherry Avenue and Live Oak. For weeks after the murder of this man, there were no suspects or leads in finding the person or persons responsible for this murder. About one month after the killing of Jose Galvez, I had a knock on my door. The Fontana P.D wanted to question me about something at the station. They did not give me a reason or say I was under arrest, but they did want to speak to me. Being young and naïve, I accompanied and accommodated them when I shouldn’t have. During the interface, it became apparent to me that the investigators were trying to frame me for the murder of Jose Galvez. They told me they had my fingerprints at the scene of the crime. I was interrogated and bullied for hours and eventually let go because one of my friends corroborated my story and timeline.
There was a four-month gap between my previous article and my next one which was published by the San Bernardino County Sentinel on August 22, 2016. The reason for this was because the two outlets I was using to publish my work stopped accommodating me. Inland Empire Politics, I.E Politics is an online type newspaper/blog that was run and created by a woman named Sharon Gilbert. I had contacted her and told her that I had valuable information I was receiving about the Fontana P.D. and I wanted to publish the information on her website. She told me sure thing, and for a series of two months, I published one article on her website. Gilbert had built a reputation with her website that she was not a person afraid to tell it how it is and put people on blast for their unethical behavior.
I released an article on I.E politics that was entitled “The Fox Is Now Guarding The Hen House.” This article was about Robert Ramsey getting a promotion to become Fontana’s chief of police after the former chief of police Rodney Jones was forced to resign. This article specifically talked about the off-duty behavior of Robert Ramsey. Pictures surfaced of him providing alcohol to women who could have been minors, but Chief Ramsey did not care to find out or even ask the young woman their age, according to sources.
After this article, I emailed a submission for another article, and she did not respond to me. I went online to the I.E politics website, and my article had been taking down, and I no longer had access to it or was able to publish as I had previously. I continued emailing her and got no response. Since Gilbert was still allowing other work to be published, in my mind, the only logical explanation is that the Fontana P.D compromised her by threatening her. To this day I no longer speak to her nor have I written anything for her website.
On August 22, 2016, the San Bernardino County Sentinel published an article by me entitled 14 Years Later; Questions Remain Over Spate of FPD In-Custody Deaths.
This article was about three deaths in the matter of six months in 2002. Ismael Banda, David Michael Tyler, and Fermin Rincon were the names of the three men who died. My sources strongly conveyed to me that the deaths of these three men were due to an unjustifiable use of force; all police reports were withheld from the public’s view, and this incident was not investigated by an outside agency. What is odd about the three deaths of these men was that the same three officers were involved in all three deaths; which were Obie Rodriguez, who retired prematurely; William Green, and Robert Ramsey, who was not directly involved in the deaths but did play an advisory or supervisorial role.
On September 4, 2016, the Sentinel released an article of mine that was entitled Two Fontana Cops Allege FPD Is Riddled With Racism. This article was about a current lawsuit that is making its way through the San Bernardino Courts. Case number CIVDS1610471 is David J. Moore v Fontana. This particular suit brought forth by two Fontana P.D officers alleges racism, corruption, unfair hiring practices, retaliatory practices by an employer, along with many other disturbing events.
Supposedly there is evidence that shows a Martin Luther King Doll was tied with a noose around its neck and hung from a rafter in the Fontana P.D. This lawsuit makes mention of an African American man who was murdered at a Kentucky Fried Chicken on Sierra Avenue in Fontana. There is supposedly a picture of this man with a partially eaten chicken leg was strategically placed in his hand after he was dead, put there as a joke to make it look like the man was killed but still managed to hold onto a piece of chicken. This picture was supposedly taken by law enforcement and was circulated around the department for years.
The Sentinel reached out to David Moore and Andre Anderson, to obtain proof regarding the allegations of their lawsuit, but they refused to produce tangible evidence to support the serious allegations of the lawsuit. Is there any proof that this crime was more than an isolated incident or set of incidents? What would happen if the murder victim family learns that a relative’s corpse was desecrated and the crime scene was contaminated by a racist crime? Has the crime of tampering with a corpse ever been properly investigated?
My next article came out on September 17, 2016, and it was titled “Culture Clash Sent Former FPD Officer of the Year Packing.” This article told the story of a Mexican American Iraq War Veteran who was a Fontana P.D officer; who experienced racism at the department and gave an account of the nepotism that characterizes the department.
On November 19th, 2016 I wrote an article called “FPD Nepotism: One-Third Of Officers Related By Marriage, Blood, or Sex.” This article touched on the fact that the Fontana P.D is filled with nepotism, back scratching, and sexual relationships that police departments are not expected to engage in.
All of these articles that I have written are facts that can be confirmed by police officers. These police officers want the truth to be revealed about a corrupt police department and are prepared to engage in the uphill battle to fight against an entity that has never been held accountable for its members’ violation of the law.
This behavior that has taken place in the Fontana P.D takes place every day all over the United States in police agencies. What I have uncovered and am still in the process of uncovering is only the tip of the iceberg.
I encourage anybody listening who wants to know more information about what is going on at the Fontana P.D to please contact the San Bernardino County Sentinel. I also encourage news and media outlets to contact the Sentinel.
I especially hope and encourage people in Fontana, San Bernardino County, and anyone interested in following the civil lawsuit against the city of Fontana, David J. Moore v. Fontana, which starts on January 9 in San Bernardino Superior Court. Will Fontana settle the case quickly and make it go away as it has in many other cases? Will the two plaintiffs if they are paid money to keep quiet, take it and run, and forget about the slogan that runs across the Fontana P.D police vehicles – Service With Integrity? Only time will tell. One way or the other the truth will eventually set you free, and the darkness will always come to light.
According to the Sentinel’s sources the Fontana P.D has engaged in activity that includes but is not limited to murder, falsifying documents, engaging in and promoting racism, unfair hiring practices, retaliatory practices against employees, physical abuse of citizens, racial profiling, falsely accusing citizens of murder, providing alcohol to minors, excessive force, tampering with dead bodies, tampering with evidence, promoting a racist work environment and falsifying evidence.
There is a very clear reason as to why law enforcement has so diligently defended the routine use of civil asset forfeiture: it’s extremely profitable.
A recentfederal audit of Indiana law enforcement agencies has shown just how beneficial this practice has been to its officers by revealing that the state used more than $400,000 of seized assets to pay for salaries, “fringe” benefits, and overtime pay.
This controversial practice has earned the nickname policing for profit.As lax as thefederal guidelines on asset forfeiture are, using seized funds to pay for personnel is strictly prohibited. But that didn’t stop Indiana law enforcement from finding creative ways to move the money around.
Policing for Profit
The controversial legal tool of asset forfeiture allows police officers and other law enforcement entities to seize money and physical property from anyone suspected of wrongdoing.
Unfortunately, as the Drug War and the War on Terror have both escalated over the last decade, national security has trumped liberty and the threshold for determining suspicious behavior has been lowered to include just about anyone.
Conveniently enough, routine traffic stops now frequently turn into “suspicious” situations as soon as the officer on the scene discovers that the driver is carrying large amounts of cash. This is precisely why the practice earned the nickname policing for profit. Since officers are “entitled” to keep a portion of the spoils, there are very few safeguards in place to protect innocent people from becoming victims of institutionalized highway robbery.
Officers of the law are profiting from the theft of innocent Americans.While many states have been successful in placing limitations on this practice over the years, the federal Equitable Sharing Program provides a loophole, allowing state law enforcement to act on behalf of the federal government, in exchange for a cut of the forfeited property, which is usually around 80 percent.
It was this same federal asset forfeiture program that allowed Indiana law enforcement to pay its officers with stolen money.
The Innocent Pay the Price
According to the federal guidelines on the Equitable Sharing Program, state agencies are prohibited from using forfeited funds to pay personnel costs “so that the prospect of receiving equitable sharing funds does not influence, or appear to influence, law enforcement decisions.”
This makes perfect sense; after all, it would be unjust to give officers incentive to accuse innocent people of criminal acts, since they stand to directly benefit from the situation.
While this safeguard may seem like a solid checks-and-balances system on paper, it hasn’t done much to stop local departments from using the money at their own discretion, which has often meant using it to pay for its officers’ salaries.
The federal guidelines do allow for one exception to the salary rule, however: if the funds are used to pay for the wages of an officer who has stepped in to replace a vacancy left by another officer leaving to join a special task force.
While this was true of an officer in Henry County, Indiana, the department had been using forfeited funds to pay the replacement over $40,000 more than the officer he was replacing. Since the base salary was, in fact, “allowable” or under the federal guidelines, the Inspector General only marked the extra $40,000 as “unallowable” on the part of Henry County.
Civil asset forfeiture will always be ripe for abuse.However, a recent Washington Postinvestigation found that 81 percent of those who have had money or property stolen through asset forfeiture have never actually been charged with a crime. Considering this, it is appalling that law enforcement is using this money to fund even a cent of their personnel costs at the expense of innocent bystanders.
No matter how the federal guidelines are framed to prevent abuse, at the end of the day officers of the law are profiting from the theft of American people, many of whom will never get their day in court because there were never any official charges filed.
In addition to the overpaid officer, the Inspector General found $165,000 of “unallowable” expenses within the state’s expenditures. This included an instance in Richmond County, where a $91,000 salary was being funded solely by forfeited funds. Henry County, as it turns out, had transferred around $380,000 to other departments and counties. Richmond was just one of several recipients.
Unfortunately, this federal program is not likely to go away anytime soon. Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, Jeff Sessions has been a huge advocate for this program which he believes to be integral to maintaining domestic law and order.
However, as Indiana’s audit has demonstrated, civil asset forfeiture will always be ripe for abuse because the entire system relies on incentivizing police officers to steal from those they have sworn an oath to protect.
Two very different factual scenarios surround the June 7, 2010, death of a 15-year-old Mexican boy at the border where Juarez, Mexico, meets El Paso, Texas.
But only one set of facts will be before the U.S. Supreme Court as it takes up an important case about deadly force by law enforcement and whether the Constitution’s protections reach across the border to a non-U.S. citizen.
The case of Hernandez v. Mesa comes amid the wider debate about illegal immigration and the call to strengthen the U.S.-Mexico border, and against a background of a troubling number of cross-border shootings by U.S. agents. The case is scheduled for argument Feb. 21.
“There is a very human story here,” says Deepak Gupta, a Washington, D.C.-based lawyer for the parents of Sergio A. Hernandez Guereca. “There was a boy who was killed by a border guard. Unfortunately, there are many others like him. This case is about whether they can get a remedy in U.S. courts.”
According to the lawsuit filed by Hernandez’s parents, the boy was a soccer lover who wanted to become a police officer. On the day in question, he was playing a game with his friends, which involved daring one another to run up the U.S. side of a concrete culvert that separates Juarez and El Paso to touch a border fence before they ran back down.
While the boys were playing, a border guard on a bicycle seized one of the them, and the others fled across the culvert back to the Mexico side of the narrow stream of the Rio Grande that runs through the culvert, according to court papers.
Hernandez ran past Jesus Mesa Jr., a U.S. Border Patrol agent, toward a pillar beneath a bridge on the Mexican side. Mesa quickly drew his firearm and shot Hernandez in the head, court papers say. Mesa and other Border Patrol agents who swarmed the scene didn’t provide the boy medical aid of any kind. Instead, they got back on their bikes and left, the lawsuit says. Hernandez died on the spot.
The Hernandez family’s version of events will come before the high court as it weighs three legal questions that stem from the family’s civil rights lawsuit in federal court, which seeks to hold U.S. agencies and Mesa, individually, liable in the youth’s death.
Because the defendants—Mesa and the government—won dismissal at an early stage of the case, federal civil rules require appellate courts to accept the plaintiff’s version as true for the purpose of deciding the legal questions before them.
“The pitch here is quite modest,” Gupta says. “It is asking the court to rule that when an officer is standing on the border and using lethal force, there is at least some minimal constitutional protection to the right to life and the right to be free from an extrajudicial execution.”
In Mesa’s version of events, Hernandez threw rocks at the agent when confronted about what might have been the boy’s involvement in the smuggling of aliens into the United States.
Randolph J. Ortega, an El Paso lawyer who represents Mesa, said in a preliminary Supreme Court brief that Department of Justice records show Hernandez had been arrested twice in the United States for alien smuggling and been returned to Mexico because of his juvenile status.
“In this case, you have persons attacking a law enforcement officer on an international border with rocks—the choice of weapon for alien smugglers,” Ortega said in the brief. “When looking at the facts available to Agent Mesa at the time of his encounter with Hernandez, … it is plain to see that, at the time of the shooting, it could be reasonably assumed by Agent Mesa that Hernandez was breaking the law as an alien smuggler.”
NO KNOWN REMEDY
The main legal question in the case concerns the prohibition on unjustified use of lethal force by law enforcement agents as construed under the Fourth Amendment. The Hernandez family’s suit also raised Fifth Amendment protections, but their appeal in the high court relies primarily on the Fourth Amendment.
In the Hernandez family’s case, Gupta asks whether a “formalist” or “functional” analysis applies to the extraterritorial application of the Fourth Amendment right to be free of unjustified lethal force.
Gupta argues that the decision in this case by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at New Orleans—that a non-U.S. citizen who stands just outside the U.S. border and is shot and killed by a law enforcement agent on U.S. soil may not assert a Fourth Amendment claim—is an extreme example of the formalism that the Supreme Court rejected in its 2008 decision in Boumediene v. Bush.
In Boumediene, a case about the rights of detainees of the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the Supreme Court held in an opinion by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy that the Constitution’s extraterritorial applications “turn on objective factors and practical concerns,” not a “formal sovereignty-based test.”
Gupta argues that the 5th Circuit mistakenly applied the reasoning of a four-justice plurality in a 1990 decision, United States v. Verdugo-Urquidez, which embraced a formalistic test that required sufficient connections to the United States for extraterritorial application of a U.S. constitutional right (in that case, the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement).
“We’re not arguing for a global Constitution or a global Fourth Amendment,” Gupta says. “It would not be anomalous to our traditions to apply the constitutional protections in this case.”
James E. Pfander, a law professor at Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law who co-wrote an amicus brief on the Hernandez family’s side, says that as in Boumediene, and unlike the situation in Verdugo-Urquidez, there does not appear to be conflict of laws between Mexico and the United States about this case.
“In other words, applying the U.S. Constitution here would not project U.S. law into Mexico in a way that would disrupt expectations there or interfere with any Mexican regulatory interests,” Pfander says.
The government of Mexico also filed a brief on the Hernandez family’s side, saying that it respects the right of the United States to interpret its own constitution. But the 5th Circuit’s decision in this case “effectively means the families of those killed may not obtain any remedy, no matter how unjustified the agents’ actions, if the victims happened to be on the Mexican side of the border when the agent opened fire.”
The DOJ investigated the border shooting and concluded in 2012 that there was insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution of Mesa. The federal government also declined Mexico’s request to extradite the agent for prosecution south of the border.
In an initial Supreme Court brief, the U.S. solicitor general’s office said that Hernandez’s death was “tragic,” and that the 5th Circuit correctly concluded that the Constitution did not protect the boy in these circumstances.
The solicitor general’s office argues that the family’s Fourth Amendment claim would fail even under the functionalist approach they urge on the court.
“Since Boumediene, other courts of appeals have recognized that Verdugo-Urquidez continues to govern the extraterritorial application of the Fourth Amendment,” the office said in its brief.
(The Department of Justice has filed criminal charges against a Border Patrol agent in another fatal cross-border shooting.)
PROTECTION FOR THE PEOPLE
The second question granted by the high court involves qualified immunity for Mesa. His lawyer, Ortega, argues that it is undisputed that the 15-year-old victim was a non-U.S. citizen without presence in, or substantial connection to, United States territory when he was killed.
The family “has failed to prove, at the time Agent Mesa found himself in the alleged incident, that any Fourth or Fifth Amendment rights were ‘clearly established’ to protect Hernandez,” Ortega says.
Gupta argues that Mesa learned only after the fact that Hernandez was a Mexican citizen with no connection to the United States. “Here, no reasonable officer in Mesa’s shoes would have thought it lawful to open fire on an unarmed civilian posing no threat to anyone,” Gupta says.
The final question in the case is one added by the Supreme Court when it granted review: whether the family’s claims may be asserted under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents, the 1971 high court decision that found an implied cause of action for those who allege violations of certain constitutional rights by federal agents.
Pfander of Northwestern says that in recent years, the Supreme Court “has been quite reluctant to recognize ‘new’ rights to sue under Bivens, although there’s good reason to believe that Congress has offered some legislative support for more routine rights to sue” for constitutional violations under the Westfall Act of 1988.
This case comes with tragic facts; multiple, complex legal issues; and a charged backdrop against an often-tense U.S.-Mexico border.
At a minimum, Pfander says, “we may learn about the law that applies to interactions along the Mexican border. The officer here faces a challenge in arguing essentially that no law governs his actions, at least no law that might give rise to a civil action for damages. A similar argument for a law-free zone in Guantanamo Bay helped to persuade Justice Kennedy that the Constitution did indeed apply.”
Adolf Hitler once said, “If you tell the masses a lie enough times, they will soon believe it.” Unfortunately, people chose to accept what is told to them rather than seeking out the truth. Often the vast majority of people do not like to be inconvenienced by reading or researching facts surrounding crucial issues within our society. Many people wait to be spoon feed a particular doctrine or information without validating the source or the facts. Not all but much of society sits complacently while others diligently seek the truth and battle for justice. As a result, we as a society suffers as the powerful fists of reality continue to beat us into submission over and over again.
If you ask most people in the United States if they have heard of Fontana, CA you get a few responses that say isn’t that a town next to Los Angeles? But most people will have no idea what or where the city is let alone the history of it. To understand the racism and corruption that has been living in the city of Fontana, its city government, and police department one must connect the dots and signs that show how Fontana got to its current situation. The current situation I speak of is as of 2017 Fontana’s police force, and city government is racist and corrupt. This is not something that just happened mid-1800, but something that is ingrained into the fabric of Fontana and other cities neighboring it. San Bernardino County is notorious for having some of the worst air quality in the United States, as well as being known for being one of the most corrupt countries in the world. San Bernardino County is the biggest county in the U.S, with 31 cities in the county.
Specifically, Fontana has been known to be one of the racist and corrupt out of all of the cities in the county. Although no one can exactly pinpoint when the corruption started in the Fontana P.D or its city government, the pre cursor for racism in Fontana as a whole depending on whom you ask can be pinpointed to around the mid 1800’s on the famous Route 66.
On the close outskirts of Fontana entering into its neighboring city to the west, Rancho Cucamonga on Route 66 still lays Sycamore Inn, which as of today is a steakhouse. During this period of time, the dirt road that ran past the Sycamore Inn’s became the main thoroughfare from the city of San Bernardino to the growing areas of Los Angeles and further west. William Rubottom realized the significance of having a strategically placed inn where travelers could stop to eat and wet their whistle, as well as sleep. William Rubottom known as “Uncle Billy” was a Southerner from Missouri. Soon his stage coach stop became a favorite meeting place for Southern sympathizers during the Civil War. Uncle Billy can also be accredited for introducing slavery into the area. This is extremely significant in the history of Fontana and neighboring cities for many reasons. If Sycamore Inn was known to be Southern Confederate friendly then one could assume that many people friendly to the Southern cause and mindset came to this inn and area because they knew that they would not be shunned away.
After the Civil War Southern loyalists could not just move and start a new life anywhere, especially if they still had their views and mindset about slavery despite losing the war. They needed to go to places and start a new way of life in places that were gentle to their cause or where like-minded people were. Thus, it can be assumed that if there was an influx of people coming to Fontana and neighboring areas who were Southerners, there was a good chance that they stayed local in the area and started a new life after the Civil War. California was not only getting these new people to the area, they were also getting their religion, beliefs, and mindsets as well. It is not farfetched to believe that this is in fact how and when the racist views of the city of Fontana and its police department started.
Fontana was founded in 1913 by Azariel Blanchard Miller. Within a few short years, Fontana became known for its chicken ranches, vineyards, and citrus orchards. Fontana originally was an agricultural town.
During World War II Fontana was greatly transformed when Henry J. Kaiser built one of the only two steel mills west of the Mississippi River in Fontana. Kaiser Steel was a large producer of metal parts and steel framing for Liberty Ships during the war. In the 1980’s Kaiser Steel filed for bankruptcy after a revenue loss of over 125 million dollars. Over 5,000 people were employed in the small city of Fontana, which upset many blue collar workers, who were predominantly White.
Racial tension during this time and years before were already high in Fontana between Blacks and Whites. The Ku Klux Klan established its headquarters in Fontana. KKK Grand Wizard George Pepper and White Aryan Resistance (WAR) leader Tom Metzger claimed Fontana and the Inland Empire as their California Eastern Territory for White Supremacy. Around this time sub groups such as the Hells Angels Biker Gang which originated in Fontana, Nazi Low Riders (NLR), all began to flourish in the city of Fontana, without being eradicated by the Fontana P.D. Many incidents of discrimination and hate crimes were unsolved and poorly investigated, if any investigations were conducted at all. Many African Americans and Hispanics complained of the racial tension within the city of Fontana, but their complaints fell on deaths ears.
The story of O’Day short is one of the most horrific tragedies to happen in the city of Fontana. O’Day H. Short, his wife, and two children purchased a home in Fontana, and they were threatened with violence to move to a Negro Ghetto area outside of Fontana. O’Day short was African American. Short stood his ground and refused to move. Two weeks later his home burned to the ground. His wife and kids succumbed to burns, O’Day Short held onto life for a few weeks but he later died. O’Day Short moved his family from Los Angeles to Fontana because of a housing shortage. He bought a lot in Fontana; when he started building his home he was approached by two Deputy Sheriffs Tex Cornelison and Joe Glines.
The two officers told O’Day Short that “he was out of bounds and to avoid problems he should move his family to a northern part of the city where African Americans lived.” There was no legal basis for the Sheriff’s meeting with O’Day Short and telling him this. This visit and warnings of these two Deputy Sheriffs are recorded in the Sheriff’s office in San Bernardino. Short reported the threats to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I), and also told his story to the Los Angeles Sentinel an African American Newspaper on December 6, 1945. Ten days later on December 16th, the horrible incident took place. Two days later the tragic incident of the Short family was reported in the newspaper as an accidental fire. O’Day Short’s sister in law Carrie Morrison asked for an inquest into the death of the family; she was met with resistance from the County Coroner. The Coroner resisted because they claimed that the incident was clearly an accident. Only after constant pressure was an inquest into the fire granted. Many African American newspapers bringing light to the incident called on California Attorney general at the time Robert Kenny to get involved. Because of this, the San Bernardino County District Attorney Jerome B. Kavanaugh allowed the inquest.
District Attorney Kavanaugh interviewed Short personally about the incident while Mr. Short was in the hospital because of his injuries from the fire. Mr. Short told the D.A that he was in no condition to answer any questions concerning the incident until he was competent to do so and with the help of his attorney. The D.A wanted to know if the fire in Short’s mind was accidental or a criminal act. Documents show that Short was pressured into admitting that this incident could have been an accident. That was all the D.A wanted to hear. Later when O’Day Short was in better condition he conveyed to representatives of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People N.A.A.C.P that the fire was an “incendiarist act of vigilantes.”
The only physical evidence that was involved in this case was a lantern that supposedly malfunctioned and caused the fire of O’Day Shorts home. The biggest piece of physical evidence was discarded by the by the police and not looked upon as having any significant value.
Many times during the trial friends of the family and family of the Short’s spoke up and wanted to talk about the threats made to O’Day Short and his family that was well documented, but the police or the D.A for some mysterious reason did not want to talk about it. Very quickly the verdict was given and the inquest was closed. The only sole survivor was O’Day Short and instead of waiting for him to recover and give a competent statement; the statement taken from him by the D.A when he was in horrible physical condition was used. An arson investigation was conducted on behalf of the N.A.A.C.P, not on behalf of the authorities. Paul T. Wolfe had over 25 years of arson experience with the Los Angeles Arson Bureau. He conducted a highly extensive analysis of the burnt remains of the Short’s house, as well as a chemical analysis. His report concluded that there was another highly flammable substance found at the Shorts house other than Kerosene which was claimed to have been the reason the lamp exploded. Mr. Wolfe also stated in his professional opinion and entire time conducting arson work has never ever seen an incident where kerosene caused such a huge explosion. The explosion at the Short’s house caused the walls of a home to blow out.
The facts of this incident are simple. In Fontana we have an African American man trying to create a life for him and his family. O’Day Short and his family were threatened by members of the community to move because of the color of their skin. They were also warned or somewhat threatened by local law enforcement to move because their mere presence would create a problem because Fontana at this time was primarily filled with white residents who did not look to kindly upon African Americans. The District Attorney in this case who is supposed to seek the truth and hold people who break the law accountable did everything but that.
Important evidence was mishandled, and proper investigation skills were not conducted to find the truth. Expert testimony was ignored, and the all around handling of this case was mediocre at best. I believe in this particular incident we were not dealing with an incompetent police force, but we were dealing with a corrupt and racist police force and D.A at the minimum. This incident still lingers in the minds of Fontana residents. Although this type of blatant racism is not happening in Fontana as of 2017, it is happening in more covert ways.
On July 1st, 1980 Pacific Bell Lineman Dovard Howard while working on an elevated line in Fontana was shot with a shotgun, which left him paralyzed. Howard’s son reported that at this current point in time he could remember crosses being burnt on lawns in Fontana. This type of behavior is something that most people only witness through a cinematic experience, but in Fontana decades ago, this was real life. And this was not in the South where this type of behavior is attributed. This was on the West Coast. Around this point and time and earlier there was an unwritten rule in Fontana. African Americans were not welcome south of Baseline Street in the northern part of the city. The Northern part of Fontana was agricultural. It had grape and citrus groves, as well as hog farms. Larry West Deane was arrested for this incident. It was later discovered that Deane was part of the Hells Angels motorcycle club, not the KKK. Fontana Police Sergeant at the time Mickey Carns stated that Fontana “in fact did not have a race problem, that they have a good ethnic mixture of diversity.” During this period and time, the initials KKK could easily be found throughout Fontana spray painted onto benches, bus stops, and on the side of liquor stores.
Cross burnings, segregated neighborhoods, KKK rallies and marches on city hall were all a part of the dark history of Fontana. One must ask why KKK and other white supremacist groups felt comfortable establishing their organizations in the city of Fontana? The answer is simple, what a person or city tolerates or finds acceptable is what they allow.
From the inception of the Fontana police department in the early 1950’s until the present time, there has been a deep-rooted stench of supremacy which haunts the halls of the city, its government, and the police department. Like the hatred and bigotry passed on from generation to generation by the Nazi parties, racist fathers and grandfathers chose to share their tainted views with their friends and family in an effort to keep segregation alive. The only difference between racism now and in the past is that in many cases it is still institutionalized, but now it is covert.
Members of the Fontana P.D whom are current active officers and retired have told me that the racism in Fontana is shrewder. In regards to the police department the white hierarchy of the department will organize behind closed doors to prevent a minority or person they do not like from getting hired. They hire their family members and recruit their friends. They will ostracize anyone who does not think like them. This is a little history of the dark city that I call home, Fontana. While conducting research about Fontana and its police department I have came across but is not limited to billboards being used for KKK recruiting devices, chiefs of police having Nazi swastikas tattooed on them, unfair treatment of minority officers, murder, corruption, and falsifying documents. The problem with racism in Fontana is that it is institutionalized. The problem with corruption in Fontana is that it is the norm in the city and the entire San Bernardino County. I encourage people to pay attention to what is going on in Fontana, CA. The truth is starting to be revealed, and the truth is something that shows the darkness that still lives in Fontana, CA.
A Colorado lawyer is name plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit that claims police used excessive force against a group of legal observers, lawyers, journalists, medics and peaceful protesters during the inauguration of President Donald Trump.
The suit (PDF), filed on Inauguration Day, claims police surrounded the group “without warning and without any dispersal order.” Then the police “proceeded to indiscriminately and repeatedly deploy chemical irritants, attack the individuals with batons, and throw flash-bang grenades at the kettled individuals,” the suit says.
“None of the plaintiffs who are members of this class destroyed or attempted to destroy property, assaulted or attempted to assault any individuals, rioted, or in any way would have appeared to the police to have been breaking the law” when they were arrested, the suit says. “Further, many of the members of the class were peacefully protesting.”
Members of the group were not involved in criminal conduct, and there was no probable cause for their arrests, the suit says. Politico, the National Law Journal (sub. req.) and the Washington Post are among the publications that covered the suit.
Name plaintiff in the suit is Colorado criminal defense lawyer Benjamin Christopher Carraway, a National Lawyers Guild volunteer who was providing legal support for protesters.
The suit does not name other plaintiffs who were arrested by police. But at least six journalists covering the protests have been charged with felony rioting, the New York Times reports. According to the Guardian, two of the journalists arrested were standing around 12th and L streets at the time. That is the location where Carraway says police rounded up and wrongly arrested a group of people, including himself.