Graduate Assembly discusses police accountability, policy advocacy

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Amudha Sairam/Staff
At a virtual Graduate Assembly, or GA, event titled "Analysis Pending Revolution" on Saturday, the GA led panels where experts discussed police accountability and advocacy. The event came in response to instances of police brutality against the Black community.

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As a mother and a grandmother, California Secretary of State Shirley Weber expressed the pain she feels when faced with the stark reality of police violence in the United States during a virtual Graduate Assembly, or GA, event Saturday.

The event, titled “Analysis Pending Revolution,” was developed in response to recent instances of police brutality against the Black community. It was held on the 50th birthday of Kayla Moore, a Berkeley resident who was killed in police custody in 2013.

At the event, the GA hosted a series of panels during which experts examined both policy advocacy regarding police violence and how to hold the police force accountable for its actions.

“I’ve seen a lot. I’ve fought a lot. I’ve heard a lot,” Weber said during the event. “I’ve seen the long picture of how much progress we’ve made and yet how far we still have to go. And it is not an easy life to live in this country and be conscious.”

Jared Knowles, former research analyst from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, drew parallels between the way schools and the police are held accountable. Similar to the way schools are assessed through standardized exams, Knowles suggested that the community be annually surveyed on their interactions with the police to determine whether a community is safe or not.

He added that he is skeptical about police accountability and views it as a stepping stone to defund the police and invest in social welfare programs.

Bulmaro “Boomer” Vicente, former UC Berkeley student and former commissioner of the city of Berkeley’s Police Review Commission, described his experience during a ride-along with the Berkeley Police Department. Vicente alleged that he was harassed by on-duty police officers who directed racist slurs toward him and challenged his role as commissioner.

“My title didn’t save me from these acts of intimidation and this police culture,” Vicente said during the event. “Berkeley, in a sense, became my training ground to really learn how to tackle these institutions.”

Marshal Arnwine, police practices and criminal justice associate at the ACLU of Northern California, discussed the importance of policy advocacy. For instance, AB 392, a bill authored by Weber, authorizes police officers to use deadly force only when necessary, according to Arnwine.

Sheila Bates from Black Lives Matter Los Angeles described two bills that her organization is co-sponsoring, including one that creates funding for community-based responses to local crises related to public health, mental health and homelessness. The second bill works to decertify police officers who engage in misconduct and end qualified immunity.

“The system is working as it was intended,” Bates said during the event. “It just wasn’t intended for all of us, so the only path forward is abolition. We seek to do this by defunding the police, using a divest and invest strategy.”

Contact Amudha Sairam at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @AmudhaSairam.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Marshal Arnwine said AB 392 authorizes police officers to use deadly force only when reasonably necessary. In fact, he said it authorizes police officers to use deadly force only when necessary rather than reasonably necessary.