“Crimes against humanity” underway in police killings George Gold: Reform must proceed

Reform advocate George Gold

by George Gold
guest commentary

We live in unprecedented times. Pandemic. Impeachment. Insurrection. Police across the United States killing American citizens, repeatedly.

In Chico, the killings must be properly named: Desmond Phillips, Tyler Rushing, Stephen Vest. According to the United Nations, crimes against humanity are defined as “… certain acts that are purposely committed as part of a widespread or systematic policy, directed against civilians, in times of war or peace.”

These days, with so many opportunities, people often say, I want justice for Desmond, or justice for Tyler, or justice for Stephen, but rather than some sort of homily of sorrow or regret, justice will be served when we have change. The Chico Police Department must change its tactics, its operating procedures, its mindset, its culture, its behavior. Stephen Vest was shot and killed by Chico police eight seconds after they arrived on the scene; he was shot 11 times. read more

Homeless evictions continue in southeast Chico Chico police block media from watching; upset citizens decry policy

photo by Karen Laslo
An officer tells a homeless woman at Humboldt and Forest to be out by evening on Feb. 16 as she stares into a small mirror.

by Leslie Layton

Chico Police Department today blocked the media from Boucher Street as officers informed homeless people camping there and at Forest and Humboldt streets that they had to move.

Unhoused people at both sites had been given 72-hour eviction notices that had expired. And as the rain ceased and the sun broke through today, police moved in on the encampments.

At Boucher and Wisconsin streets, community members offered to help campers load tents and possessions into trucks and move them if they had someplace to go. A few people chose to move to beneath the Highway 99 overpass in lower Bidwell Park. But with no shelter space available in the city, many didn’t know what to do. read more

Citizen group unveils Chico PD reform steps Calls for police culture in which ‘all Chicoans feel safe’

photo by Karen Laslo
CC4J Coordinator Emily Alma explains an eight-step police reform proposal.

by Dave Waddell

Akin to this year’s killing of George Floyd nationally, the gunning down of Desmond Phillips by Chico police in 2017 outraged and galvanized a community. That local movement came together last week to unveil what is called a plan for transforming policing in Chico.

The eight-step proposal for reform of the Chico Police Department includes calls for greater community oversight of the police and better use of de-escalation strategies in mental health and other crises, among other priorities. Emily Alma, coordinator of Concerned Citizens for Justice (CC4J), spoke Thursday (Sept. 24) of the group’s aims, standing in front of the sculpture of hands outside City Hall and while flanked by a couple dozen supporters. read more

Third anniversary of Rushing killing observed Family files quick appeal after lawsuit tossed in federal court

photo by Dave Waddell

by Dave Waddell

Scott Rushing, wearing his only son’s blue polo work shirt, had a question Thursday evening for two dozen people attending a sidewalk vigil on the third anniversary of Tyler Rushing’s death.

How many people have Chico police killed since Tyler died on a bloody bathroom floor inside a title company on July 23, 2017? The answer, as many in the group knew, is zero.

“Is that a coincidence? I don’t think so. … I believe we’ve saved lives,” Rushing said of the activism that followed the killings of his son and Desmond Phillips, a young Black man in mental crisis who was gunned down by Chico police on March 17, 2017. read more

What do Chico councilors seek in new top cop? Q&A on priorities, Floyd killing fallout, community policing

photo by Leslie Layton

Mayor Ann Schwab

by Dave Waddell

In Chico’s way of government, the city manager selects the chief of police. Since the city manager, Mark Orme, takes his marching orders from the City Council, ChicoSol thought community members would like to hear from council members about their priorities for the selection of Mike O’Brien’s successor.

O’Brien retired last week after five years as chief. His deputy, Matt Madden, is serving as interim chief.

All seven council members were asked to answer three questions via email and given a week to do so. ChicoSol received responses from five councilors – Sean Morgan, Scott Huber, Alex Brown, Ann Schwab and Randall Stone. Karl Ory and Kasey Reynolds did not respond. read more

Chico responds: Who are police protecting? Vice mayor proposes police reform

photo by Leslie Layton
Darrisha Daniel

by Leslie Layton

Darrisha Daniel attended the police brutality protest at City Plaza Friday for a simple reason: She believes policing in this country needs a “whole overhaul.”

Daniel, an African American psychology major who recently transferred to Chico State, says too many blacks get caught up in “routine” traffic stops and end up “arrested or even dead for no cause.”

“These days it becomes a question as to, who are they protecting and who are they serving?” Daniel said of police. Law enforcement, she noted, swallows up huge chunks of local budgets and government should ensure that “people in those uniforms are there to protect the community.” read more