Scaled-back plans to arm park rangers Speakers differ on whether guns aid park safety

photo by Karen LasloElaina McReynolds

photo by Karen Laslo

Elaina McReynolds

by Dave Waddell

A proposal to turn Bidwell Park’s three rangers into Chico police officers was scaled back Tuesday to arming just two of them as cops and having the third ranger work to bolster park volunteerism.

The so-called “hybrid” plan, outlined by Chris Constantin, assistant city manager, drew mixed reactions from members of the Bidwell Park and Playground Commission, as well as mostly skepticism from citizens who spoke at a public hearing.

In an oddity at such hearings, one speaker, Dan Everhart, was interrupted twice during his brief testimony by commissioners who disagreed with his comments – first, pointedly, by Tom Nickell and a second time by Jeffrey Glatz. Commission Chair Marisa Stoller reminded commissioners that the purpose of the hearing was to receive public comments, and Glatz later apologized. read more

Professor blasts Chico cops in fatal shooting Police should act as 'peacekeepers,' not 'gunslingers'

Diane E. Schmidt
Diane E. Schmidt

by Dave Waddell

In an unusually pointed letter, a veteran professor in Chico State’s criminal justice program has blasted the killing of Desmond Phillips by Chico police as showing “extraordinarily poor training, flawed judgment, and gross ineptitude.”

Phillips, a 25-year-old mentally ill black man, was shot 10 times by two officers in his father’s living room just 21 minutes after medical aid was first called to help him March 17.

In a letter dated May 15 to Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey, Professor Diane E. Schmidt called Phillips’ shooting both a failure of training by Chico PD and of oversight by officials such as Ramsey. The district attorney did not immediately return a call from ChicoSol seeking response to Schmidt’s letter. read more

Student challenges mental health stigma College can be tough time for those with disorders

Alexa Thornblad

photo by Hannah Panten

Studying at the coffee shop

By Hannah Panten

“I’m bipolar,” Chico State freshman Alexa Thornblad says casually, sipping her white mocha. Thornblad uses the tattooed back of her arm to wipe milk froth from her lip. Giggling, she holds up a No. 1 with her tiny index finger, then explains: “Bipolar 1 Disorder.” Tugging on her four-sizes-too-large corduroy pants, she sits in the corner of Naked Lounge — an eccentric cafe she frequents sometimes when she feels no drive to go to class.

Thornblad, an 18-year-old Los Angeles native, is majoring in sociology and liberal studies. Contrary to popular practice, she has no issue speaking up about her recently diagnosed mental disorders. Her first glimpse of depression came in 10th grade, soon after realizing she’s bisexual, but it wasn’t until last winter that she got diagnosed with Bipolar 1 and Borderline Personality Disorder. Thornblad attributes her late diagnosis to her parents not believing in mental disorders. She also believes that her parents’ lack of concern about mental health is not unusual. read more

When Hate Speech Became a Movement

Image via Flickr Creative Commons
Image via Flickr Creative Commons

by Andrew Lam,   New America Media 

Just over a year ago Microsoft introduced Tay, an AI chatbot that was designed to learn from and replicate online chatter. Tay, according to Business Insider, “responds to users’ queries and emulates the casual, jokey speech patterns of a stereotypical millennial.”

But within 24 hours, Tay was gone, the casualty of an online universe of hate a bigotry that is now shaping America’s political and social landscape.

“bush did 9/11,” and “hitler would have done a better job than the monkey we have now.” That’s just a sampling of some of Tay’s choicest quips. read more

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Police-the-park plan is a “fork in the road” Public safety, park rangers and disposable people

photo by Karen LasloSome rangers are not interested in undergoing police training.

photo by Karen Laslo

Some rangers are not interested in undergoing police training.

by Steve Breedlove

“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stomping on a human face forever” – George Orwell.

At this moment, Chico’s unelected city bureaucrats are in the process of moving Park Rangers into the Police Department, arming them and sidelining their function as naturalists and stewards of our recreational commons. Apparently, “broken windows” enforcement of minor infractions is the preferred method of addressing very real and material social problems.

In a public hearing (April 24 Parks Commission), the assistant city manager tried to deflect the dissent of citizens in attendance, advising us that the Council had not approved it. Curiously, he also argued it was imperative to set Police Academy dates this calendar year. read more

Group may ask for CPD citizen oversight board David Phillips pushes for independent probe of police killing

photo by Karen LasloDave Phillips at a recent meeting of Chico City Council

photo by Karen Laslo

Dave Phillips at a recent meeting of Chico City Council

by Dave Waddell

In the wake of the killing of Desmond Phillips, community activists expressed support Monday for establishing a citizen board to review the Chico Police Department’s internal investigations.

Pastor Vince Haynie said proponents of citizen oversight are researching the practice in other cities and gathering support from various community groups.

“In light of recent events, we really need that,” Haynie said at the May 1 meeting of the Human Relations Network of Butte County.

Haynie’s reference was to the killing of Phillips, who was black, mentally ill and 25 years old. Phillips was shot 10 times by officers Alex Fliehr and Jeremy Gagnebin on March 17 in his father’s living room. read more