The death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police officers has not only drawn further attention to police brutality within the black community, it’s provoked some soul-searching within the police community.
Officers are increasingly breaking ranks from their common position of solidarity within their profession and calling out injustice. This includes our own Chief Jennifer Tejada who expressed outrage in the method of restraint that led to Floyd’s death and called for accountability of the four officers involved (all who have now been charged in Floyd’s death).
“NO excuses. [The Emeryville Police Department] do NOT train our officers to do this. Every fiber of my being is rattled, disgusted, horrified, deeply saddened, & embarrassed. Chauvin, Lane, Thao & Kueng need to be held accountable for this injustice against Mr. Floyd #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd
NO excuses. @EmeryvillePD We do NOT train our officers to do this. Every fiber of my being is rattled, disgusted, horrified, deeply saddened, & embarrassed. Chauvin, Lane, Thao & Kueng need to be held accountable for this injustice against Mr. Floyd #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd pic.twitter.com/Vm5z5GGsAa
— Jennifer Tejada (@ChiefTejada) May 28, 2020
After a long evening of defending her city from looting, Tejada took a moment to reflect on the state of affairs of justice, policing and what it meant to her city and profession.
Below is a letter by retiring Police Chief Jennifer Tejada reprinted with her permission in its entirety.
I started work today at 6:30 am. It’s 2:10 am and I’m still here. The looters are still looting. 100s of young people, 4-5 to a car driving around our commercial districts – all but the driver jumps out and they loot. Then they move on to the next target. I noticed they are driving nice cars.
If you know me, you know I am deeply disturbed by the killing of George Floyd. I have spent a great deal of my career finding ways to build bridges, give voice to those who are marginalized, reduce violence, and nurture peace, justice, and equality for all.
I am retiring in 2 weeks and could not be more disappointed, saddened, and angered in how George Floyd died. I understand the ensuing anger and protests and support the right to protest and give voice to the outrage felt across the country, particularly by people of color. Racism is real- it exists.
At one point early in the evening I saw one person standing by herself holding a sign. One protestor. Literally hundreds of looters were running past her to get into Bay Street Mall to commit crime. She was the only protester we saw since this started at 7 pm. The looters ranged in age from 14 to mid-twenties.
We had 2 shootings – In one a 16 year-old was shot and is in hospital. In the other incident, 8 officers were shot at. The shooter is 17 years old. Several times throughout the night, rocks and bottles were thrown at the officers.
“We had 2 shootings – In one a 16 year-old was shot and is in hospital. In the other incident, 8 officers were shot at. The shooter is 17 years old. Several times throughout the night, rocks and bottles were thrown at the officers.”
Many of our store owners are minority small business owners barely surviving the economic impacts of the COVID pandemic. The news coverage in the Bay Area this evening is mostly about the looting. George Floyd is barely mentioned. Our business owners face unimaginable losses. I have no doubt that people will lose their jobs and who knows what else, their homes? I know some will say that the looting is “a form of protest” because of the anger and frustration over Mr Floyd’s killing. The anger and frustration was apparent in much of yesterday’s protest, and I think we could all empathize, and we at EPD always strive to ensure that 1st Amendment rights are protected.
What I am seeing tonight is not a protest in the name of George Floyd. They are not exercising their 1st Amendment right… these people are committing crimes using George Floyd’s death as a cover.
The men and women of Emeryville Police Department are some of the finest you will ever encounter. Their professionalism is remarkable as is their ability to show compassion, to care and reach in to their own pockets to help someone in need.
I have no answers. It’s 2:20 am and they are still looting. I just thought I would share some of what we are experiencing here and my sadness that these criminals are stealing not just items, they are stealing people’s incomes, and stealing the attention that George Floyd should be receiving.
It’s a sad day.
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Thank you for sharing this perspective. Nobody can dispute Chauvin is guilty of brutality because he continued kneeling on George Floyd’s neck after he stopped struggling and started saying he couldn’t breathe.
Why did it happen? Is there evidence Chauvin did it because of racism?
We know Mr. Floyd was trying to pass a counterfeit bill and was argumentative with the shop owner. We know the initial arrest and handcuffing of Mr. Floyd for a minor crime was without struggle. We know Mr. Floyd was bigger than Chauvin. We know Mr. Floyd was a bouncer and therefore knew how to fight. I don’t know why Mr. Floyd decided to use these skills to kick the officers while outnumbered and sitting in the back of the police car.
Smart people know police officers deserve respect because of their service but also because their training, numbers and tools give them overwhelming force to subdue perpetrators. Why can’t people understand this? Why has the cowardly murder of David Patrick Underwood gone relatively unnoticed?
I wish good luck to Chief Tejada in her future endeavors.