By Dr. John E. Warren
First let it be said that a number of individuals and organizations have been at work in the San Diego African American community on issues of health, jobs, safety and police issues on a continuous basis much longer than the recent occurrence of police violence and civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri. The local Chapter of the NAACP has met for months with the ACLU, the San Diego Police Department, District Attorney and Pastors on issue of police conduct in particular. One of the first community meetings with Chief Zimmerman and the community at the Jacob’s Center had Mr. Mario Lewis of 100 Strong as the Moderator on these key issues. More recently the NAACP held a rally concerning the issues of Ferguson, Missouri and this week we have a commentary from the State President of the NAACP on these issues, and as recently as last Saturday, Chief Zimmerman attended and participated in a very well attended Forum held by BAPAC on the local issues of concern by the community with the Police Department.
This Saturday August 23, 100 Strong holds another in a series of planned community marches to our parks and through our streets, with the stated purpose of “reclaiming our communities” Black Men United, Pastors on Point, The Progressive Baptist, UAMAAC and other Pastoral groups including the representatives of combined ministerial associations have been working closely with the Mayor and the Chief of Police as well as representatives of the District Attorney’s Office.
Clearly many elements of the San Diego community are engaged in the issues confronting this community of color. Nevertheless, it is realized and recognized that all people and organizations have a constitutional right to public assembly and freedom of speech. But let it be made clear to the Police Department, the Sheriff’s Department, District Attorney’s Office and other officials that meetings with such individual groups must not be taken as a substitute for our expressed collective efforts nor should such meetings be seen as the ordination of “new” spokes persons. We realize that the struggle continues and we continue with it.