This past Tuesday, the Eureka City Council had a meeting which seemed pretty dull and uncontroversial, at least from what was written in the agenda packet. However, two local residents took the time to show up and speak truth to power. We commend you for your efforts, and your time wasn’t wasted. We and others were paying attention.
During the public comment period, two citizens told the council about their concerns regarding the “Community Shooting Review Board” of the Tommy McClain killing. Both made it clear that having city staff review the shooting without any public participation was, by definition, the opposite of being transparent.
The first speaker, Ama Tierney (sorry if we got that wrong), asked when the “report” would be made public, and the only answer from the chambers were……crickets. Mayor Jager finally spoke and said to call or email the council for more information.
The second speaker, who didn’t identify herself, asked about how the lawsuits (or lawsuits) were going and spoke about her surprise that there wasn’t more information available. She told the council there was a recent study regarding officer involved shootings in California, which the council might want to look at. The study was by Mike Males. We were eager to see what was held in within the pages of that study (given that Males is not from Eureka and holds no real ties to the area). The study should be shocking to that powerful block of people who believe they live in the quaint “Victorian Seaport” of Eureka. Here are some links to an article regarding the study:
The first article related to the study starts out with a bang, unfortunately. Eureka is on the map…..for all the wrong reasons:
Who do cops shoot in California? The most powerful, tragic images are of young African Americans like Oscar Grant in 2009 and Ezell Ford last August, victims of harsh policing in racially segregated and underserved areas like east Oakland and south central Los Angeles. Yet in remote towns like Eureka and a cluster in the southern deserts (Desert Hot Springs, Vista, Perris, Hemet, and Indio), people are much more likely to be killed by officers — not just in per capita rates, but often in raw numbers.
Let’s repeat that. In small towns like Eureka, people are much more likely to be killed by officers than in East Oakland and South Central Los Angeles. The article also points to another elephant in the room regarding “police culture”. Do other cities in Humboldt have murders, robberies, rapes and high property crimes? Duh, of course. Arcata isn’t always just drum circles and cannabis. They have heroin, gangs, murders, stabbings, violent crimes and everything else prevalent in Humboldt. However…..did you ever hear of APD shooting anyone in the past decade or two? Even though they arrest armed bad guys and gang members? Very strange, and the study picks it:
“Likewise, on the surface, Eureka and Arcata would seem fairly similar towns, as would (say) Moreno Valley and Santa Clarita. Yet, Eureka and Moreno Valley suffer regular police killings while Arcata and Santa Clarita have recorded none in recent years.”
The secrecy, lack of transparency and culture of the Eureka Police Department has left the citizens of Eureka in a horrific mess. Crime is up, including the worst types of violent crime. On the flip side, you are more likely to be killed by an officer in Eureka than if you were living in the ghetto’s of Oakland and LA.
Hey Natalie, we love you, but enough with the silence.
It’s time for a “real” civilian review board. It’s time for a “real”change.