Tom Butt for Richmond City Council The Tom Butt E-Forum About Tom Butt Platform Endorsements of Richmond Councilmember Tom Butt Accomplishments Contribute to Tom Butt for Richmond City Council Contact Tom Butt Tom Butt Archives
E-Mail Forum
Tension Grows Over Police Mailer

First of all, this is not about checkpoints, drivers licenses or insurance. At least my position has been clear on these issues (see Political Mud Slinging Begins - Link Fixed, October 3, 2008). What this is about is dirty campaigning that involves the Richmond Police Officers Association and, by association, the candidates they are supporting – Bates. Marquez and Sandhu.


To his credit, the fourth candidate supported by RPOA, Chris Tallerico, joined six other candidates at a forum last Thursday night in condemning the flyer. Bates, Marquez and Sandhu stood their ground and refused to criticize their benefactors, the RPOA, which is helping to fund their campaigns for re-election.


Police Chief Chris Magnus was quoted in the October 6, West County Times: “I find the flier to be racist, without factual basis, insensitive and inappropriate.”


According to a witness, while the Thursday night forum was going on in Richmond, Councilmember Viramontes and her husband Bob Campbell were at the Contra Costa Democratic Central Committee meeting trying to fend off attacks on their Chevron 5 associates, Bates, Marquez and Sandhu, and defeat a motion before the Central Committee to denounce the mailer. In the end, Campbell and Viramontes lost, and the Central Committee unanimously adopted the denouncement.


Today, the Guardians of Justice (Black Police Officers Association) issued the statement “The Guardians of Justice do not support the statements made in the political mailer distributed by the RPOA Board of Directors. The Guardians of Justice do not support any form of Race-based policing. The statements made in the political mailer were improper, divisive, unprofessional and contrary to all American Policing Philosophies. Click here for the letter.


At this time, that pretty much leaves Bates, Marquez and Sandhu tacitly supporting the RPOA and the flyer that the police chief labeled as “racist, without factual basis, insensitive and inappropriate.”


For more information, see the West County Times story below:

Council may denounce police union mailer

By Katherine Tam
West County Times

Article Launched: 10/20/2008 05:32:04 PM PDT

Outcry over a campaign flier that some say wrongly blames immigrants for crime in Richmond will reach the City Council tonight.

Mayor Gayle McLaughlin will ask the council to formally denounce the flier from the Richmond Police Officers Association and support a local group's demands, which include a formal apology and removing two council candidates from city commissions if they do not condemn the mailer.

Some city officials, including the city manager and police chief, have criticized the flier publicly. But this would be the first statement from the council as a whole, which includes members heavily backed by the police association.

The four-page RPOA mailer, which arrived in mailboxes early this month, attributes the city's crime problem to drugs and adds, "Drugs come to Richmond from across the Mexican border." It states that city leaders who oppose driver's license checkpoints hold "public safety hostage." It urges voters to reject council candidates Jovanka Beckles and Jeff Ritterman, and to back candidates Nat Bates and Chris Tallerico.

The piece ignited a firestorm among some residents, particularly in the Latino community, who say the mailer unfairly blames the immigrant population for the city's crime.

Richmond Community United for Peace wants the RPOA to issue a second mailer apologizing for the first, and the group is asking city leaders to apply political pressure. The coalition also wants the 10 council candidates to denounce the piece and reject RPOA endorsements and campaign contributions if no apology is given.

The RPOA gave $1,500 to $2,500 each to Tallerico and Councilmen Bates, John Marquez and Harpreet Sandhu for the council race, according to campaign finance reports.

In addition, the local group demands that the Contra Costa Democratic Central Committee withdraw endorsement of candidates who do not echo the call for an apology; that the Police Commission investigate Detective Kevin Martin, the RPOA's president, and Sgt. Andre Hill, its vice president; that Tallerico be removed from the Police Commission; that the Richmond Human Relations and Human Rights Commission investigate the RPOA leadership; and that Sandhu resign as a commission liaison if he does not support demands for an apology.

Andres Soto, a spokesman for Richmond Community United for Peace, referenced the flier in a complaint last week lodged with the Police Commission against Martin and Hill. He claims the officers, both of whom were identified as contributing to the mailer, made "unsubstantiated claims about Latinos. These claims are racist in nature and constitute racial abuse."

The flier implies that Latinos are "the only and unique source of illegal drugs coming into Richmond and that Latino gangs are the masterminds," Soto wrote in the Oct. 16 complaint.

The Police Commission, a mayor-appointed advisory panel, investigates claims of excessive force and civil rights abuses against police officers. A City Council vote is required to remove someone from the commission.

Beckles and Ritterman have said that statements in the flier about them are not true. Tallerico has said he did not make or see the mailer before it was issued.

The Human Relations and Human Rights Commission is scheduled to hear the issue at its Monday meeting.

Staff writer Karl Fischer contributed to this report. Reach Katherine Tam at 510-262-2787 or ktam@bayareanewsgroup.com.

If you go

·  WHAT: The Richmond City Council is slated to consider formally denouncing a recent campaign mailer from the Richmond Police Officers Association

·  WHEN: 7 p.m. today

·  WHERE: Richmond City Council chambers, 1401 Marina Way South