Militant Journalism

Sacramento Sheriff on the defensive

Sheriff Scott Jones is once again in the headlines for his outright unprofessionalism. This time, he has literally locked his doors to Inspector General Rick Braziel after the release of a report critical of the department’s killing of Mikel McIntyre last year in Rancho Cordova, just east of Sacramento.

The 32-year-old McIntyre, whose family stated he had struggled with mental illness, was killed by Sheriff’s deputies who fired nearly 30 shots as he ran away across Highway 50 in May 2017. No audio or video was released to the public despite a version of events presented publicly by law enforcement that did not add up.

Jones and Braziel: Partners in crime

Braziel and Jones may present themselves as opponents, but the two have a long history of cooperation in the interests of preserving police
terror on the streets of Sacramento.

Braziel, who was the Sacramento Police Chief from 2007 until 2013, still collects a $200,000 a year pension check from the City of Sacramento. The office of Inspector General was created by the Sacramento Board of Supervisors in 2007, supposedly to be an office responsible for holding the Sheriff’s Department accountable. In 2015, Braziel was named Inspector General by the BoS, a position earning him an additional salary of $100,000 of taxpayer money. His job: provide oversight to the Sheriff’s Department.

Business as usual

Within months of Braziel taking office, on October 22, 2015, the Sheriff’s department took part in the killing of 36-year-old Adriene Jamarr Ludd.

Initially profiled for driving with an expired registration and a loud exhaust, Deputies chased Ludd down the side streets of Madison Avenue in North Sacramento. Of the 62 shots fired by Deputies McEntire, Green  and Mohler, only 13 struck Ludd, further endangering the surrounding community with stray gunshots. Likely for this reason, both Braziel and Sheriff Scott Jones agreed that no video or audio from the incident would be released to the public.

Instead, they presented images of several guns, including a jammed Tec-22 that they claim Ludd was crawling for when they proceeded to execute him. Although Ludd’s autopsy identified gunshot residue on his right hand, it is important to note that according to Braziel’s own report of the incident, gunshot residue, “can result from discharging a firearm, proximity to someone who fired a gun, or contacting a surface that contained gunpowder residue.” In other words, pointing out the gunshot residue on his hand was yet another attempt to criminalize and demonize a dead man without proving his guilt. Despite the barrage of bullets fired at Ludd, all of the shots fired that night came from Sheriff’s Deputies, a fact conveniently absent from both Braziel and Jones’ reports and statements which instead emphasized the “threat” that Ludd presented.

A history of violence

Having overseen his own department take part in numerous killings with impunity, Rick Braziel is no stranger to killer cops. In 2012, his department participated n the killing of 17-year-old Asencion Herrera Jr. while he was guiding his blind friend down a Meadowview sidewalk on a summer evening. Sacramento Police officers claimed they saw a weapon on Herrera that later turned out to be unloaded. Hererra’s family questioned why he was stopped in the first place and why police did not identify themselves before killing the teenager. Their wrongful death suit against the city was denied and the family still awaits justice.

Years later, the city saw another police killing in Meadowview, this time of unarmed 22-year-old Stephon Clark. Killed by Sac PD on the ground with
the help of Sac Sheriff’s department from the air in March, the case resulted in  a different reaction from the city’s population than Herrera’s 2012 murder.

Thousands poured into the streets demanding justice for Stephon Clark. In the days that followed Clark’s killing, protesters blocked the busy I-5
freeway as well as multiple NBA basketball games hosted by the Sacramento Kings.

It was this spontaneous reaction by the masses along with the collective inaction of the Mayor, District Attorney  and Attorney General in the months
that followed that has led to Braziel’s report condemning the Sheriff’s killing of Mikel McIntyre. Business as usual is no longer an option for Sacramento.

O22: #EndPoliceTerror

On October 22, people around the country marked the National Day Against Police Terror. In Sacramento, the day was used as an opportunity to shine a
light on the crimes of the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department.

At an outpost located near the busy Florin Mall on the 65th Street Expressway, protesters gathered led by Anti Police-Terror Project, ANSWER Coalition, Black Lives Matter Sacramento, Brown Berets de Califas & SacrAztlan, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, Party for Socialism and Liberation, Students for Justice in Palestine UCD and  the Black Student Union of Sac City College. The families of Oscar Grant, Desmond Phillips, Michael Barrera and Stephon Clark were joined by members of the community to renew the struggle to build a movement against police terrorism.

The action also marked three years after the murder of Adriene Ludd and only months after Jones’ Deputies hit Wanda Cleveland with their police cruiser and drove off. After hearing from families directly affected by police terror, the crowd then marched a short distance to the front of the Sheriff’s outpost and proceeded to redirect traffic.

Jail abuses continue, #JusticeforMarshallMiles

One week later on October 28, Sheriff’s deputies in Sacramento’s main jail oversaw the death of Marshall Miles in their custody. After being arrested for public intoxication on Watt Ave. in North Highlands, deputies claim that a fight broke out between them and Miles during intake at the jail. Moments later, Miles was reported as not breathing in his cell.

Medical reports claim he died of a heart attack; the family and community refuse to take these conclusions at face value. One day after his death, protesters led by Black Lives Matter Sacramento and Build Black gathered in front of the jail to demand answers. Jones has responded predictably by denying any responsibility and instead demonizing the victim.

The whole system is guilty!

Fresh off of an electoral victory that granted him a third term in office, Jones is pressing the gas on his ultraconservative agenda of street terror, jail expansion, and indiscriminate deportations. Inspired by Trump, Jones is a reminder that California’s progressive image masks conservative institutions dedicated to rolling back any gains made by the movement for justice.

Efforts continue to break the iron grip of Scott Jones around the neck of the Sacramento valley. But how his grip got so tight was not the result of his efforts alone. He has been enabled every step of the way by both the City Council and Board of Supervisors who share the same goal as the Sheriff: silencing working class dissent and making sure real estate developers and agribusiness can continue exploiting the environment and its people for sky high profits.

On December 4 there will be another showdown between the Board of Supervisors and the Sheriff. With the blood of Marshall Miles still fresh on their hands, it is likely that the two sides will continue their long winded debate about bureaucratic structure while the people of Sacramento city and county continue to mourn their losses and put forth demands for transparency and accountability. These reforms are necessary to stop the current crisis but the problem can only be solved by a new structure of governance that doesn’t prioritize profit over people’s lives.


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