We remain open and steadfast in our commitment to helping our clients during these difficult days.

Proven Approach With Results Forged Through Experience

Image of attorney Mark L. Deniz

New San Diego Police Department controversy: New police station mural

On Behalf of | May 9, 2014 | Firm News |

Is this really a controversy?  It is a mural at the police station.  Is this the media blowing up a comment by one officer?

The main thing to note is this is being done by young persons.  It is not an assigned agenda from anyone.

Anyways have a great Friday and weekend.  Read the issue below.

Three active-duty officers talked to Team 10 on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation. One source said the other officers complained about the mural and said it has “too many black faces.”

A group of artists has been painting a mural inside the Southeastern Division police station. Sources said up to four officers complained about the mural.

“If they feel this way about a mural, how are they going to treat the public?” one officer said.

According to the 2010 census, Southeast San Diego has the highest density of African-American population — more than 20 percent of residents are African-American.

Team 10’s sources would only be interviewed on the condition of anonymity, out of fear of retaliation.

“They actually went around the captain,” an officer said about the mural complaints.

San Diego NAACP Chapter President Lei-Chala Wilson told 10News Tuesday morning that she was informed that work on the mural was stopped because of the complaints.

“It was my understanding that they had to stop because they got some complaints from some of the officers to Chief Zimmerman,” Wilson said.

Southeastern Captain Tony McElroy is one of the African-Americans featured in the artwork, along with City Council Member Myrtle Cole, who reviewed the plans for the mural before the first brush stroke was painted.

The third African-American featured is civil rights leader and humanitarian Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“One of the comments that was made was, ‘What does Martin Luther King have to do with this; what has he done for this community?’” a source said.

At the top of the mural is a picture of Officer Christopher Wilson, who was killed in the line of duty in 2010.

“My main concern is of course the youth, who started this project, and then were told halfway through they had to stop,” Wilson said.

Area residents accuse SDPD of racial profiling

In January, some residents from Southeast San Diego described what they called widespread racial profiling in a meeting with city council members. Former police chief William Lansdowne was there, along with current Chief Shelley Zimmerman.

The residents held signs, some of which read, “Why do I always fit the description?”

“If these officers are uncomfortable with a mural that depicts African-Americans, and then they’re patrolling a community that’s predominantly African-American and Latino, there’s a great concern,” a source said.

Wilson reflected similar concerns to 10News.

“If they feel there’s too many black faces on that mural, how do they feel about the black faces of the citizens who are a high percentage in that area?” Wilson asked. “How do they interact with those citizens?”

But even though the sources said they disagree with the officers who complained, they said they have not seen those officers act out of line.

Team 10 asked one source if they had any reason to believe the officers who made the complaints have done anything wrong against African-Americans in the community.

“No, I don’t have any reason to believe that,” the source said.

The sources also said that after the officers complained and asked for the mural to be changed, work on the painting has stopped.

The department responds

Police spokesman Lt. Kevin Mayer said the chief wants to investigate the claims of complaints about the mural.

Mayer said any officer who had a complaint about anything, including alleged racist comments, is urged to call the chief’s anonymous hotline at (619) 531-2672. He said reporting allegations is the first step for internal investigations.

“The claims that there are too many black people on it are absolutely false,” said Mayer. “This mural should have been on panels.”

Mayer said murals at all stations need to go through the facilities management department, but in this case, that did not happen. He said if the art is on panels, it can be preserved indefinitely if there is a change in leadership or if a wall is refurbished.

“The chief wanted all of this preserved,” Mayer said. “That was her main concern … because there are a lot of important people being depicted on them.”

He said the panel policy for murals had been in place for a while.

Asked about what other stations have similar artwork on panels, Mayer said he did not have specifics in front of him during a phone conversation with Team 10 Monday night. However, he believed there was a military mural at the Northern Division, and a border team scene at the Southern Division.

“Whoever made the allegations (should come forward) because we would love to investigate,” Mayer said.

Other problems facing the San Diego Police Department

The Department of Justice and FBI are investigating San Diego police for other issues related to sexual harassment charges and convictions against police officers. There is no word on when those investigations will be complete.

One long-time federal law enforcement officer involved in the arrest and prosecution of high profile cases in the region said former chief William Lansdowne destroyed the “investigative functions of the San Diego police department.”

Lansdowne resigned days after Team 10 broke the news about allegations of sexual harassment against former officer Chris Hays. Hays resigned to fight the charges.

The full article can be found here.

FindLaw Network
Share This