Tonja Daniels and Tiffany Garris Covington, Licensed Clinical Addiction Specialist
Four hundred protestors, the majority without masks, descended in droves upon downtown San Diego on April 18, 2020, to hold a “Freedom Rally” in defiance of public health orders. One sentiment that echoed across Black America was abundantly clear, Black people are the rule when it comes to breaking the law, and everyone else is the exception.
No tear gas or SWAT were among the majority-white protestors in the Freedom Rally. As a matter of fact, SDPD sat idly by offering no citations stating that they did not want to “rile up” the group as they purposefully endangered peoples’ health. Had the shoe been on the other foot and hundreds of Black people took to the streets to defy government-mandates in peaceful protest, the only thing San Diego probably would have opened for Black people under quarantine is the doors of the Vista Detention Facility and Downtown Central Jail.
California State Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye ordered a statewide-mandated emergency order for inmates to be immediately released on April 6, but San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan was against releasing the nearly 200 inmates.
On April 21, 2020, San Diego Superior Court Judge Harry Elias granted Jane Dorotik, 73, to be released from prison due to health issues and her age. Dorotik was found guilty of murdering her husband in 2001 and upon her release will be monitored with a GPS ankle bracelet.
One inmate who will not be afforded that same luxury is 64-year old James Tillory. Friends and family of Tillory contest that he has a history of respiratory problems and is being held in captivity at the Downtown Central Jail all because San Diego Superior Court Judge Kreep, failed to verify the legitimacy of fraudulent mortgage documents at Tillory’s hearing that resulted in an unlawful eviction, followed by an unlawful search and seizure into his home without a search warrant. There are also reports that there are at least 29 judicial misconducts filed against Judge Kreep.
Mr. Tillory chose to alert higher judicial authorities exposing the corruption of the San Diego district attorney’s offices and began making a series of complaints in which the DA responded to him in a retaliatory manner. Since Tillory’s arrest, he has been shuffled to close to 30 different court dates in front of at least 20 different judges. Family members reiterate the uphill battle it has been in getting him released. On Tillory’s last court hearing before the novel coronavirus hit, his bail was supposed to be reinstated, but nobody from pre-trial services contacted the family to secure an address for him. To add more insult to injury, when Tillory, who is self-represented, attempts to file his motions/pleadings to be entered into court his paperwork is always confiscated.
Tiffany Garris Covington, a Licensed Clinical Addictions Specialist in North Carolina states that her son Miguel Lucas, Jr., like Tillory, is the victim of “severe prosecutorial misconduct” committed by the same district attorney presiding over the Tillory case, DA Mary Naoom. Miguel was brutally attacked in jail with a large portion of his face severed, Covington initiated a report to the Federal Bureau of Investigations in Greensboro, NC on November 7, 2019, which was forwarded to the San Diego field office. Miguel, with the support of his family has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit and along with their lawyer Danielle Pena of the Morris Law Firm, is “confident Miguel will receive justice.”
On February 28, 2020, a hearing was held on the “vindictive prosecution” of DA Mary Naoom. Three witnesses testified continuously that the DA’s office attempted to bribe the main witness to take the stand and lie against Miguel. Even though Judge James O’ Neill stated that Naoom’s sentencing for Miguel was “overkill,” he ruled in the prosecution’s favor. Covington says, “the family expected this outcome of pomp and circumstance and are pleased with the ruling as it further strengthens Miguel’s civil case against the county. The prosecution had no intention of having me on the record outing Naoom in an effort to control the amount of damages the county will suffer.”
The same standard should be set across the board, but far too many officials operate under color of law and authority, camouflaged as artificial justice. People will only do what you allow, and the community can no longer allow any office of authority to hold their foot on the necks of Black people, while affording passes to their colleagues and constituents, especially when it might be the authority committing the crimes. These same white supremacist systematic symptoms do not make San Diego “America’s Finest City,” but more aligned with the nickname of the late, great Dr. Carrol Waymon and Councilman George Stevens as being the true “Mississippi of the West.”