(CBM) – In a recent Twitter post and during a September 27 news conference remembering slain San Diego County resident Alfred Olango, noted civil rights activist Reverend Shane Harris criticized state Attorney General Xavier Becerra saying the Department of Justice leader is not focused enough on issues of policing.
“California AG Becerra is quick to sue Trump admin over border wall but has the full power to investigate police shootings and won’t do it,” said Harris in a tweet.
Harris and National Action Network (NAN) president Reverend Al Sharpton lobbied for AB 284. Authored by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), the proposed law would have required all police shootings to be investigated by independent prosecutors assigned by the California Department of Justice.
Critics say police officers involved in fatal shootings rarely go to jail since local prosecutors, who often work with law enforcement, are reluctant to prosecute them. Sharpton also says district attorneys usually rely on the support of police unions during campaign season.
Facing stiff opposition from multiple law enforcement associations, the bill stalled in the Legislature and was held in the Senate Appropriations Committee. Police Officers Research Association of California, also known as PORAC, described AB 284 as a “waste of taxpayer dollars.”
Sharpton accused California of not living up to its liberal reputation by failing to pass AB 284.
“California has this image of progressivism, but is not up to par with other states in the union, like New York, like Wisconsin, who have moved toward a special prosecutor,” said Sharpton.
California has had its share of police shootings. According to British newspaper The Guardian, the Los Angeles Police Department recorded the highest number of shootings in 2016.
Last year, Alfred Olango, an unarmed black man, made national headlines after being shot and killed by El Cajon police officer Richard Gonsalves. A judge ruled the shooting was justified. During a protest over Olango’s shooting, Harris demanded the city of El Cajon set up an independent review board to look into police shootings.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that Gonsalves is still on the El Cajon police force and has been assigned to a desk job.
Becerra said he supported AB 284, but believes the issue needs further study.
“In order to create targeted and effective solutions, we need to understand the facts. I will continue to do everything in my power to help achieve safer outcomes and reduce the likelihood of future incidents. This isn’t the end. We’ve just begun.”
But Harris said, “What else is there to study? It’s time to take the test.”
By Manny Otiko
California Black Media
CBM exists to facilitate communication between the black community, media, grassroots organizations, and policy makers by providing fact-based reporting to a network of over 21 Black media outlets on leading public policy issues