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THE ORIGIN OF 'PROTECT YOUR PEOPLE'
2015 was when De-Bug first met Laurie Valdez, whose partner Antonio was killed by San Jose State University Police Department. We at De-Bug had been supporting her and her family seek justice for Antonio through rallies, meetings with decision-makers, and pushing for accountability for Antonio.
At the same time, as part of De-Bug's participatory defense work, De-Bug was also supporting Lamar Noble, a 45 year old Black father who was assaulted by Santa Clara County sheriffs during a traffic stop and then was charged with resisting arrest. We were supporting Lamar, his mother Gail, and the family to drop the charges on Lamar.
In late 2015, SJPD Officer Phillip White tweeted a statement disrespecting the life of Eric Garner who was killed by New York police. He disrespected Eric's last words of "I Can't Breathe" and disrespected the Black Lives Matter movement.
These three moments came to a head for us - and our phrase "Protect Your People" was born. It was born out of the lack of will of our elected officials to hold law enforcement accountable -- while at the same time bearing down to assault and incarcerate our Black, Brown and poor communities. It came out of an awareness that it is up to our community to protect ourselves from the violence of the system. We saw that every week at De-Bug when families came to us for support on their loved ones' cases - either the attacks from police weaponry, or the carceral actions states use of incarceration and deportation. "Protect Your People" was born as a call for our own communities to protect each other because we know we are stronger together than alone. And our people, collectively, are more powerful than these entrenched racist institutions.
In December 2015, under the banner "Protect Your People" we held a rally in front of the DA's office and the San Jose Police Department - bringing these three moments together to hold all systems accountable for our loved ones lost to police violence as well as loved ones being fed into the incarceration system.
Since then, families who lost loved ones to police violence have been meeting at De-Bug. We are a family that sees each other through the highs and lows. We are a movement upon which any change we seek comes from the transformation of pain to power.
READ ABOUT OUR CAMPAIGNS
This is a 'club' that no family chose to be part of. But by organizing together, by affirming each other's stories and pain, by treating each other like family, we have grown stronger together.
We meet monthly at De-Bug and hold healing retreats with families who have gone through the unimaginable pain we have. In 2017, from the imagination of Justice for Josiah, we held a healing retreat for families who lost loved ones to police violence here in California. We are thankful to Colin Kaepernick for supporting that retreat! We also held a forum highlighting the voices and experiences of our families here in San Jose.
From this healing, we find family. We find strength, and our voice. We continue to do this in the safe space that we've carved at De-Bug where our leadership is honored and followed.
FIRST 100 DAYS
The City of San Jose has selected a new police chief. The transition of power comes in the wake of the largest uprising against systemic racism in San Jose history, ignited from the murder of George Floyd, and tapping into the local struggle for police accountability. In such a dynamic time, we expect a new chief to be responsive to the needs and calls of the most impacted by police violence - and to act on their demands.
Read the following set of policies are a listing of priorities laid-out by families who have lost loved ones to police in San Jose.
FIRST 100 DAYS
TRANSPARENCY IN POLICE RECORDS
In 2018, De-Bug families fought for the passage of SB 1421 - a law that expanded the California Public Records Act to make public records -- including any disciplinary records of officers involved in critical incidents of serious or deadly use of force. We also pushed for the passage of AB 748, which created uniform standards for law enforcement to release body cam footage of critical incidents, pending investigation. This came out of a concern of a lack of knowledge of the history of officers involved in critical incidents.
De-Bug families were part of statewide coalitions, met with legislators, held rallies, and pushed for its passing.
On January 1, 2019, SB 1421 became law. On July 1, 2019, AB 748 became law. Families began filing SB 1421 requests on January 2, 2019.
Watch this video of why we believe SB 1421 should be passed.
For some De-Bug families, their loved ones were killed by police during calls for help - when there was a clear mental health crisis happening and yet police responded with guns to loved ones' homes.
In 2015, De-Bug families led by the parents of Diana Showman organized to help pass SB 11 and SB 29 which called for increased crisis intervention training for police officers.
De-Bug families are organizing for alternatives to police when responding to mental health crises. Police can never be our healers.
Already, the County of Santa Clara has established a different hotline for mental health calls. We want to expand these services to ensure no cooperation with police. We are also looking to pass AB 2054 - the "C.R.I.S.E.S. Act" which will allow for the creation of community alternatives to police, especially in mental health calls.
COMMUNITY RESPONDERS IN
MENTAL HEALTH CRISES
COMMUNITY RESPONDERS IN MENTAL HEALTH CRISES
DEFUND THE POLICE
By reviewing their own cases of loved ones killed by police, De-Bug families developed a plan that defund the police and reallocate those resources to the community.
De-Bug families and the supporting community dissected the 2020 San Jose City budget and offered demands to divest from police and invest in community. While the City rejected calls to defund the police, the families will continue to organize to push for policy changes to defund the police.
Read the families' letter here that was signed by over 30 organizations, and over 5,000 individuals.
DEFUND THE POLICE
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