Recent protests sparked by police killings of blacks across the country have escalated to a level that has put metropolitan mayors in the crosshairs of protesters who don’t believe they’re doing enough to bring about change and others – including the President Donald Trump – who say they should take action against the unrest.
And for some of them, the dispute has taken the form of vandalism near their homes.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, who has largely defended the city’s police force in recent months and spoken out against the defounding police movement, became the latest target of demonstrators this weekend when about 100 of them marched to his house, which The recent Wisconsin police gunfire sparked Black Jacob Blake.
While there, some protesters sprayed messages including “F *** 12” relating to the police and “San Jose Will Be Free” on his house, threw eggs on it, and burned an American flag and blue Lives Matter flag brought on site, according to police.
Later that evening, police reported a second incident of vandalism at San Jose City Hall in which a suspect was arrested, booked and detained for a crime. San Jose Police Department detectives are investigating both incidents.
“Having someone in my house with graffiti is only part of the job,” Liccardo said on Monday after he and his neighbors removed all the remains of the graffiti from his house. “I understand that this is the nature of leadership in troubled times, but what concerns me more is a pattern of violent and criminal behavior that the police are supposed to attract.”
The vandalism at Liccardo’s home occurred just a month after the home of Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf was also splattered with graffiti messages such as “Defund OPD” and “Cancel Rent”.
Although police did not come to Liccardo’s home at the time of the vandalism, they made it to town hall in time to find a suspect who is still scribbling messages on a wall, according to San Jose Police Department Sgt. Christian Camarillo.
“All the signs indicated that this should be a peaceful protest, just like the second week of George Floyd’s protests. So we really didn’t have to be out there,” Camarillo said in an interview on Monday. “We support 110% of people who want to organize and carry out peaceful protests, but if a crime occurs and blatant acts of vandalism take place, we will respond.”
The US representative Ro Khanna described the recent acts of vandalism against the city leaders of the Bay Area as “appalling and outrageous”.
“I understand that there are many people who are frustrated with the system and don’t see it change, but the answer to that is to get away from Dr. (Martin Luther) King and John Lewis to be inspired and to take the higher ground, ”Khanna said in an interview on Monday.
LaToya Fernandez, a founder of the community’s nonprofit youth hype, said she understands protesters’ anger but does not tolerate harm to people’s property.
Fernandez, who is currently working with the mayor’s office to create a Black Lives Matter banner for City Hall, said the measures may be “counterproductive” to the lasting effects currently being used by activists and organizers working with city officials to achieve, to drive forward.
Since the Mayor murder of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, tensions have increased between the mayor and advocates of police accountability.
Despite demands from hundreds of parishioners to divert funds from the city’s police department and invest in more equitable resources for marginalized residents, Liccardo has been a staunch critic of the movement to devalue police departments. The city voted to keep the police budget at $ 449 million, and city officials have pushed ahead with plans to build a police training and academy complex for more than $ 43 million. While the mayor unveiled a nine-point police reform plan, many proponents said it did not go far enough to address systemic friction between the community and the police.
And now the mayor is getting a backlash from parishioners for branding those responsible for the demolition of his home and allegedly threatening his neighbors as “threatening thugs”, even though he has pointed out that their behavior is not the larger movement of the Representing Black Lives Matter.
In a tweet on Saturday following the vandalism at his home, Liccardo replied to someone by saying, “Feel free to redefine the (Black Lives Matter) movement by including menacing thugs if you want, but our community supports that Not.”
Liccardo, who said he found it surprising that his words were viewed as racially targeted, took off his tweet after lawyers and community members described him as “shameful” and “the definition of a dog whistle.”
“I understand that different people perceive different things and I didn’t want it to be a distraction or offense,” said the mayor. “It was more important to me to get a clear message across.”
The mayor’s message was that a small group of protesters – whom he believes are not a symbol of the overarching movement – “are engaging in much more aggressive and frankly criminal activities to lure the police, and in many cases this leads to.” real damage.
“We all know that change can only happen when there is an opportunity for real dialogue and not encouraged by intimidation,” he added. “I will in no way respond to attempts at intimidation, nor should elected leaders.”
However, Raj Jayadev of Silicon Valley De-Bug called the mayor’s comment “incredibly dangerous and irresponsible”.
“If you have a mayor who excels as a middle-of-the-road or progressive politician who calls young black and brown people threatening thugs, then set the gasoline on fire,” Jayadev said.
This is not the first time the mayor has taken the heat off activists and local residents in recent months over comments he has made on Twitter about recent protests and opposition to police movements.
In July the mayor wrote in a tweet: “To save black lives – and all lives – there are better alternatives to defusing the police.”
Although the mayor did not directly say “All life matters” – a phrase commonly used to counteract “Black Lives Matter” – many residents pointed out the resemblance and called it “deaf”.
“I don’t think he was necessarily trying to say ‘All Lives Matter’, but the fact that he couldn’t predict the reaction to it is worrying,” said Aaron Zisser, the former San Jose Independent Police Investigator. “The problem is more than just the police department culture, it has to do with the politics and messages of the mayor and other elected leaders.”