​​The ​mural controversy ​at the​ ​SDPD Southeastern ​Division​​The ​mural controversy ​at the​ ​SDPD Southeastern ​Division


Dr. John E. Warren

​​Recently we all​ ​experienced the tragedy of Don Sterling and his position on African Americans. We witnessed an outcry of rejection, a demand that he lose his franchise​ ​(which is happening as we speak) and a demand by some, that he apologize. The outcry has been as though Sterling was the first ​white person to make such a private/public confession of what many consider are his real thoughts.

Now by contrast, take a look at the San Diego Police ​Department’s Southeastern Division facility where a decision was made to allow some student​s​ to paint a mural on a wall within the department​, ​which included a ​depiction​ of four  prominent African Americans. The project was stopped, not because the students couldn’t paint, or the project ran out of money, but because a number of “​white” police officers assigned to that facility expressed concern that there were too many “Black ​people” in the mural, ​which includes ​the outgoing ​division ​​​captain​,​ Tony Mc​Elroy, along with Fourth District ​City Council​member Myrtle Cole. As a result of this complaint, it is our understanding that Police Chief Zimmerman has directed that the mural should be painted on panels so that it can be easily removed.​ Question: Why would there be concern over the removal of the mural before the mural is even completed? Would it be ​because Captain Mc​Elroy is leaving in June due to the DROP Program and that there are no other African Americans in the pipeline as possible candidates to replace him. And what about the fact that there is a mural in the women’s locker room at the same facility ​that no one has complained about it; there is also a mural, we understand at the Southern Division location of the San Diego Police Department, ​with ​no complaints o​n record.

Is there a difference between Sterling​’​s position and the “unknown” ​police officers’​ who expressed concern that there were “too many” Blacks in the mural​, especially when it highlights Captain ​McElroy? A man ​who has served the city and that very community in particular from which he came​,​ and in which he continues to serve to this day. It is not like ​McElroy insisted that a mural of him be painted as a condition​ for it to be done.

Question​:  ​A​re these the same police officers who took an oath to “Protect and Serve​,​” or should we infer from this conduct that there are some officers that do not see all of us as equal.

To​​ many of us as residents of the City of San Diego​,​ it would appear that Donald Sterling is not the only one with a problem of race. He just happens to be the one that got caught. It also serves as a reminder that racism can come in many forms and it should not be ignored when raises its head.