News

Menlo Park: People of color speak up about personal impact of police stops

 

About this story: For this story, reporter Kate Bradshaw interviewed several young men of color about their experiences when stopped by Menlo Park police. She also interviewed Menlo Park Police Chief Bob Jonsen and Commander Dave Bertini. The Almanac plans to continue to cover this issue and wants to hear from you. At the bottom of this story is information on how to contact us.

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By Kate Bradshaw | Almanac Staff Writer

In Menlo Park's Willows neighborhood, a spate of home burglaries since September has put residents on edge, leading to an undercover police presence, an increase in calls to the police to investigate "suspicious" characters, and a number of recent arrests.

While some residents herald the arrests as an unequivocal win for the community, others point out how heightened police attention can affect innocent people, often people of color, who are stopped and detained by police.

The Almanac interviewed a number of people of color who have been stopped by Menlo Park police and asked them to talk about the experience and how it has affected them.

DeBraun and Jonathan

On Dec. 19, 2016, only a couple of hours before Menlo Park police arrested a pair of teenage burglary suspects, DeBraun Thomas, 27, and Jonathan Turner, 37, both African American, were catching up before the holidays. They were returning from lunch together, when Mr. Turner turned his car up a cul-de-sac in the Willows. Mr. Thomas had grown up in the Willows and was home to spend Christmas with his mother.

After turning left from Chester Street, where there is a stop sign, onto Menalto Avenue, an undercover police car pulled up and four officers stopped Mr. Turner for allegedly rolling through the stop sign. (Menlo Park police don't use dashboard video cameras, so there is no video of the car turning. They do use bodycams, but they are turned on in person-to-person contacts and capture only 30 seconds prior to their activation, according to Menlo Park Police Chief Bob Jonsen.)

Mr. Turner says he was under duress and doesn't know if he gave consent to have the car searched. Menlo Park Police Commander Dave Bertini said that police saw an open container of marijuana in the vehicle, which is against the law. Mr. Turner says he did have marijuana in the car, located under his seat inside an opaque white bag carrying the name of a medical marijuana delivery service. He presented a medical marijuana prescription card. The police also found an amber light, which Mr. Turner said he planned to use at the Boys & Girls Clubs as a promotion for a comic book he had written about a character he calls Pajama Man. Amber lights, Chief Jonsen said, trigger suspicion because they can be used to imitate police car lights.

Mr. Turner was required to sit on the curb while his car was searched, a painful position because he has multiple sclerosis. A sergeant repeatedly asked Mr. Turner why he was so nervous, he said.

While he was being detained in front of his childhood home, Mr. Thomas said, the police asked several times what the two men were doing in the neighborhood, and he was asked for a second form of ID after showing his driver's license.

Both men were shaken by the experience, in part because they had both been detained 10 years earlier in front of the same home for driving a type of car that was allegedly often used for burglaries. That time, the police had pulled guns on them.

After their most recent stop, the two men wanted to talk about their experiences. Mr. Thomas hosted a community organizing workshop at Cafe Zoe in the Willows.

"I can't tell you or explain how violating it is to be harassed by the police, knowing you didn't do anything in your own neighborhood," he said later in an interview. "No one should have to feel that way: unsafe around the police, unsafe in their own neighborhood."

Mr. Turner said he is used to police stops. He said he is stopped by police officers around the Bay Area probably once a month or every other month.

A refrain he hears often is, "You fit the description of who we're looking for." Although he is 37 years old, he said he has been detained regarding incidents that involved suspects who were teenagers of color.

As a delivery man for Doordash, a food delivery startup, he said he is now afraid to make deliveries in Menlo Park at night, and has lost out on potential income.

He admits that in his duties as a delivery man, he is sometimes required to do things that may appear to some to be suspicious. For example, many residents don't turn on lights to illuminate their house numbers. He sometimes has to walk up and down driveways to make sure he's found the right house for his delivery.

"I want them (police) to know it's more than just pulling someone over," he said. "It's humiliating. It's demoralizing. It has a psychological effect on us." He said he did not file a complaint with the department out of fear of retaliation, but does intend to file a lawsuit.

While in attendance at a community meeting the Menlo Park Police Department held Jan. 11 to discuss burglaries in the Willows neighborhood, Mr. Turner said he understood comments by the police chief to indicate that he "...pretty much gave (people) a green light to call the cops every time they see a colored person."

What Chief Jonsen said at that meeting was: "Every once in a while, your gut is going to tell you, that individual – just something about that individual – doesn't look right. Trust your intuition. That's why we have it. We're humans, right? Trust it, and call us, and let us do our job."

JT

JT Faraji, 41, an African American resident of East Palo Alto, recently met with Chief Jonsen to talk about an incident that happened to him in August 2016. He was the passenger in a car with two other men, who wish to remain anonymous, that was stopped and searched by several Menlo Park police detectives who are part of the San Mateo County Gang Task Force and Narcotics Task Force (a multijurisdictional policing group that can do investigations outside Menlo Park).

Mr. Faraji alleged that while stopped at a T-intersection in East Palo Alto, an undercover police car turned right at the T, and then, he said, after the officers saw the car's occupants, made a U-turn and began to follow them.

They were shortly thereafter stopped for allegedly running a stop sign and speeding. Mr. Faraji said the driver did not run the stop sign or speed prior to the police stop. No video footage of the traffic incident was recorded.

Commander Bertini of the Menlo Park Police Department said in a later interview that the detectives who conducted the stop had probable cause.

After the car was stopped, the officers found that one of the young men was on probation, warranting a full search of the car, and another man's driver's license had just been suspended. Mr. Faraji had been recording the encounter on his phone but was required to put the phone down when an officer told him to put his hands up. Police may order passengers in a traffic stop to put their phones down, said Cmdr. Bertini.

In a meeting with Chief Jonsen, Mr. Faraji said he suggested the police department get dashboard cameras to record police observations of traffic stops, rather than rely on body cameras, which only record police intereactions with people.

Mr. Faraji said he thinks East Palo Alto is overpoliced, partly because of added police presence from other jurisdictions, and he thinks the gang task force should be dissolved.

"Menlo Park has no reason to come into our community," he said. "If we need help policing, our police chief can ask specifically for help."

Heavy policing in his area coupled with harsh sentencing laws has negative effects on his community. In a neighboring city, he said, "you can rape someone and get three months of jail," referring to the sentence Stanford's Brock Turner served after being convicted of sexual assault and attempt to commit rape in 2016.

In East Palo Alto, he said, "Families are destroyed for weed."

Willie

Willie Beasley, 55, an African American resident of Belle Haven in Menlo Park, told the Almanac that fear of the police is an everyday fact of life for him and others in his community.

"There's not a kid alive in the African American community that doesn't know what DWB – driving while black or brown – is," he said.

"Certain things you don't do in certain neighborhoods," he said. For instance, he said, he avoids wearing a baseball cap, baggy clothes or tennis shoes when he goes to a neighborhood where the residents are primarily Caucasian.

"Even though I try to control my environment (and) how I present myself, that's not going to save you," he said. "All it takes is one overzealous officer with a chip on his shoulder. ... They have a badge and authority."

Mandating that police officers use body cameras may not be so effective at curbing abuses of authority, he said. Across the nation, he said, "people are being gunned down on camera and can't even get a conviction."

Local employees

Kathleen Daly, who owns Cafe Zoe in the Willows neighborhood, said that in the eight years since the cafe opened, every young man of color who has worked at her cafe – so far, there have been eight – has experienced being stopped by the police, whether in Menlo Park, Palo Alto or East Palo Alto.

Some have been stopped multiple times. Recently, an employee was stopped while walking from East Palo Alto to Menlo Park along Woodland Avenue and was late for his shift. The police officer was friendly enough, the young man told her, but several months earlier, the same young man, while walking across the Willow Road/U.S. 101 bridge, said he had been knocked to the ground and had a gun pulled on him by an East Palo Alto officer.

"They're stopped because they're young people of color," Ms. Daly said. "These young people are being pulled over, stopped, (and) asked stupid questions for walking down the friggin' street."

She said she understands the fear in the neighborhood – her own cafe has been broken into twice – but wants to point out to the community that there are many young people of color who walk through the neighborhood regularly. She believes that being stopped by the police, having done nothing wrong, can have lasting psychological impacts on local youth.

"We are traumatizing young men of color," she said.

Policing challenges

Chief Jonsen said his officers have the authority to stop someone for a traffic violation, such as running a stop sign, and search the car if the officer thinks there is reason to suspect illegal activity. He said he expects his officers to treat people with respect.

Chief Jonsen invites anyone who has questions about police behavior to call the department at (650) 330-6300 to schedule a meeting with him. The Menlo Park Police Department has won three awards for community policing since October 2015.

He admitted that in encouraging residents to call the police whenever they see anything that could arouse suspicion, police do contact innocent landscapers, construction workers and residents. But it's not the police department's job, he said, to ferret out the mindset of the person who calls. The department's job, he said, is to respond to calls for service, and catch people who commit crimes.

Commander Bertini added that dispatchers are expected to ask further questions about suspects beyond their race.

The police department is under new pressure, since burglaries and petty theft are on the rise, Chief Jonsen said. Part of this he attributes to the passage of the voter initiative Proposition 47, which reduced penalties for such crimes. According to the law, theft of items worth less than $950 is now prosecuted as a misdemeanor. With a weaker legal deterrent for would-be burglars, he said, property crime is on the rise across California and will likely stay that way until incentives change.

Residents have expressed serious concerns about these crimes. Willows resident Chris Finan, who attended the community meeting held in January, said he was pleased that Mayor Kirsten Keith and Chief Jonsen are working to address the burglaries in the neighborhood, and were treating it as a priority.

"My wife and I are veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, and it's deeply unsettling for us to feel a sense of vulnerability in our home, when we experienced so much abroad," Mr. Finan said in an email to the City Council. "That's not how we want to live and raise our family. I believe we as a community should be able to find a solution to ensure a sense of security."

Jeff Young, a resident of the Linfield Oaks neighborhood who is Asian-American, also suggested there may be unintended consequences of treating people of color with suspicion in majority-white communities. "People aren't stupid," he said. "Do the Menlo Park police intend to alienate people of color? Probably not," he said. "(Their) cumulative actions add up to: 'You are not welcome. We find you suspicious. We find your behavior suspicious.' That's what comes through."

He was recently stopped by the police while walking in the Willows neighborhood with a neighbor. The encounter with the police was friendly enough, he said, but he did feel somewhat singled out compared to his other neighbors out walking around at the same time, and wasn't sure why anyone would be suspicious of him. Maybe it was his goofy-looking hat, he suggested.

Debbi Jones-Thomas, the mother of DeBraun Thomas, is executive board member of the Police Activities League in Redwood City, and has lived in the same house in the Willows neighborhood for 29 years, she said.

She said police officers should be required to undergo implicit bias training. "The reality is, our police officers are human beings," she said. "They are subject to biases and prejudices just like any other human being. What they fail to understand is that when they use those perceptions based on what someone looks like, they not only humiliate innocent people – they put innocent lives at risk. That's the problem I have."

Implicit bias training at the neighborhood level could be useful too, Ms. Jones-Thomas said.

Mr. Thomas, her son, suggested: "If you see a person of color in your neighborhood, don't jump on the phone and call the police. If you think they're up to no good, figure out why."

"I want better from my community," Ms. Jones-Thomas said. For her, that would happen when everybody is treated fairly regardless of their race, clothing or the kind of car they drive.

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Related story: Police encounters: 'Am I free to leave?'

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How to contact us

Email reporter Kate Bradshaw at kbradshaw@AlmanacNews.com and Editor Richard Hine at editor@AlmanacNews.com. Email letters to the editor to: letters@AlmanacNews.com. No more than 300 words. Include phone number and home address, and write "letter for publication" in the subject line. (If the letter runs, your name, street name and city of residence will be published, not your phone number or address.)

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Brock Turner in 2016 was convicted of rape. He was convicted of sexual assault and intent to commit rape.

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Comments

44 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 21, 2017 at 12:15 pm

My local African-American friends tell me they are stopped by police at least once every couple of months, usually for things like "you're driving too slow in this neighborhood". I drive the same way as them and the last time I was stopped was more than 20 years ago. DWB is for real and white people who deny it probably don't have any non-white friends.


38 people like this
Posted by Margo
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 21, 2017 at 3:14 pm

Perhaps the police should be required to show video proof of speeding, rolling through a stop sign or other "violations" which are often used as a pretext to stop young men of color for DWB. Any policeman can accuse a driver of a violation and that driver has no way to defend himself.

I live just across Middlefield from The Willows. One night someone tried to enter my bedroom through a sliding glass door. I have a strong 2 X 4 in the channel of that door. It will not open farther than to admit a small cat. The would-be intruder left. Locks, dogs, gates, lights and vigilance are our best deterrents to crime. It is not right to subject young men of color to repeated stops just because someone thinks they "don't belong". As long as there is poverty, there will be crime. The way to address this is to encourage education, hiring of black men (hurray for Cafe Zoe!) and to treat all with respect until they show they are not deserving of it. Just being black is not enough!!! As a white person I am very embarrassed that black/brown males are routinely stopped to "protect" me. Of course I want to be safe, but this smacks of the Nazi behavior of the 1930's.


2 people like this
Posted by Winning!
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Feb 21, 2017 at 4:50 pm

Jobs are the quickest and least expensive solution to a lot of crime. Thank heavens we have Mr. Trump here to create jobs. Any one seen legislation on that yet?

Winning!


5 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 21, 2017 at 5:16 pm

Rolling through the stop signs in the Willows is a big problem and several residents, myself included have written to the Chief asking for stepped up enforcement so I am not surprised that they got pulled over for that. Also as the chief mentioned at the community meeting they are getting a lot more calls from residents of the Willows reporting suspicious people and they have to respond to all of them, they don't get to pick and choose.

as for stating he was under duress and doesn't remember giving permission to search his car that seems pretty weak. They searched, probably either with permission or after spotting something visible and found an illegal substance (same as an open container).

In the second case with a person on parole they automatically have the authority to search the vehicle the person was in. Not sure what the issue is here.

In these cases it seems like the people were pulled over for traffic violations, they were questioned, their vehicles searched when appropriate. there were no physical altercations, no brutality, etc. It seems much like the times I have been pulled over. The police walk around looking for anything suspicious in my car, they ask if they can look inside, to which I say no and that pretty much ends the stop (sometimes with a citation some times with a warning)

Maybe the almanac can clarify this but hasn't the East Palo Alto police department requested the support of other jurisdictions like Palo Alto, Menlo Park, The Sheriff department and the California Highway Patrol?


52 people like this
Posted by jt
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 21, 2017 at 6:40 pm

I appreciate the brave journalistic effort Kate Bradshaw put forth as a Caucasian female to make an attempt at capturing the polar opposite point of view of young men of color in Menlo Park!

I'm Jonathan Turner and I would like to clarify a few things that may spark immediate misperceptions, which is fundamentally critical in matters of any type of discrimination.

December 19th was a day of heightened undercover police enforcement in the Willow's, officers were armed with the intent to apprehend those possibly involved in the influx of residential burglaries. Debraun and I were pulled over after an alleged traffic violation by four members of the Narcotics Enforcement Team, fully equipped in tactical gear, and driving a black, unmarked SUV! An alleged stop sign violation should not warrant such an excessive allocation of law enforcement resources, but Debraun Thomas and I after already having an experience of guns drawn upon us a decade prior, knew we just had to remain calm as we embraced the unknown agenda of the approaching officers. 5,000+ completed deliveries would increase the likelihood of being caught violating traffic laws, but it has enhanced my awareness, I've become more conscious, and don't have any blemishes on my record!

6'4" Sgt. Soares, armed with a badge and a gun asks "why are you so nervouse" as he speaks to me from the driver's side window with the obvious intent to incite defensiveness; a known street tactic used not only to emmasculate but also to be disrespectful, and he's aware of this as an experienced officer working in neighborhoods of color. Although previously quoted in the Almanac describing the behaviours that prompt suspicion of burglary, Debraun and I failed miserably to meet this standard. It is well cited that surveillance video depicts young Latino men with backpacks as the characters of investigation; but Debraun and I, 6'4" and 6'2", black, and a lot older than a teen don't meet this criteria whatsoever!

As for legal cannabis and an Amber light, which aren't illegal; to propagate the possession of either item as probable means to commit a crime is absurd, let alone a red herring to negate the point of being pulled over in the first place just for being black, oh, and in a rental car since their license plate readers can't immediately identify the owner of the vehicle, nor quickly determine whether or not it was stolen!

I wasn't smoking, nor had I smoked, especially as a delivery driver that depends on a clean driving record in order to secure employment. I have Multiple Sclerosis and medicinal cannabis is only consumed in extreme cases in which I may be experiencing exacerbated symptoms such as nerve disfunction that may hinder my ability to walk, see, or even use my fingers. It serves me as an Epipen would serve one with an allergic reaction, rather than getting high or stoned for senseless recreational value! An open container of marijuana while driving, no citation of any kind, ha, I even doubt if there was a ledger of some sort to even write a ticket!

The Amber light the officers saw in plain view was for the comic book hero I created, not to pull random people over to victimize them as the cops suggested that some do. PajamaMan is a nighttime, Monster Fighting, Sweet Dream protecting super-duper hero; even has a hotline kids could call if they want to report a nightmare, a monster, or even a dream they may want protected! I planned on passing out certificates of HOPE for MLK Jr. day to promote sweet dream success, but not having the proper mindset to work hindered my dream by preventing me from making the necessary fundraising goal to carry our the event!

I grew up on the Peninsula and went to school in Burlingame and Woodside. Most of the people I knew were White and I would never automatically call someone or something racist, even if the person or situation could easily be perceived as such; but the institutionalized structure of the Menlo Park Police Department is by historical nature, racist! I'm not going to even venture out to call all of the police officers racist because I would be demonstrating the same discrimination I'm battling to eliminate, but I will call out those that actively engage in predatory profiling practices that convey certain biases. Inclusiveness is a necessary aspect of compassion, but there will continue to be injustice if those involved in executing inequality aren't seen as inhumane! I don't hold any biases against the police and have coached and officiated for the RWC Police Activities League, and served as a youth cadet as a teen.

I have to thank the members of the community that have shown their support during this time of discouragement, and have committed to standing up against those in power that reflect negative qualities that don't adequately represent the values held by most community members! I was privileged to stand with the District Attorney during the community, and have been given empathy from Mayor Keith and Councilman Mueller and that has fueled my motivation to file suit rather than a complaint; I'm not a complainer, but I am an agent of change! May the contributions of Menlo Park to create greater change be an example to the rest of the nation that's lacking proper insight!


10 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 21, 2017 at 9:56 pm

After reading your response I still do not understand what you think the Police did wrong. TThere were 4 officers patrolling the Willows after a recent crime wave. They noticed that you failed to come to a stop at a stop sign, something many of the residents of the Willows have also been complaining about. They stopped you. You say that it was overkill but that is who was in the Police vehicle, did they call in backup? They were in tactical gear, but they were wearing that before stopping you, correct? They did not put on any gear in response to stopping your vehicle did they. They saw cannabis, which I believe is still illegal (medical or not) in a vehicle. It is like alcohol, it can't be in the passenger compartment. So it seems they acted as they would of had they found an open beer can in the car.

Frankly I don't see any issues with this stop from what you have said or what the article has stated. I have watch the police pulling over several cars that failed to stop at stop signs, on O'Keefe, Menalto and Gilbert, of the cars I have seen pulled over in the last several weeks there was a Hispanic driver and several Caucasian drivers, so I don't see any targeting or racial profiling in my limits sampling. Were you mistreated during the stop? Did they accuse you of anything or physically abuse you? Did they charge you with a crime and were those charges upheld or dropped?

If the police have an institutionalized bias against people committing traffic violations and pull them over to cite them and investigate them, great that is what we need. If you have evidence of an institutionalized racial bias that should be supported by facts and figures. Does Menlo Park record the race of race of people stopped for traffic violations? Is the percentage of People of Color higher than that of the general population of the area? That seems like a good place to start.


23 people like this
Posted by Birdnscrap
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Feb 22, 2017 at 2:18 am

This is the best article I have ever read in the Almanac. Great job, Ms. Bradshaw.


20 people like this
Posted by jt
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 22, 2017 at 9:11 am

I would like to thank you for continuing the conversation with your very valid understanding of the situation, your questions are quite fair and worthy of exploration! Your response conveys the prowess of your character, an honorable respect for authority, and a strong sense of communal territorialism. You seem like the type of man that gives great eye contact and firm handshakes, and I hope I'll have the opportunity to meet you some day!

I don't mind that your opinion differs from the feelings and facts of reality that I and others of color must face. Would I be wrong to think you're a retired Caucasian male, or an officer posing as a local resident? If so, then we may not share similar viewpoints, and that's not a problem unless we discount one another's thoughts.

Unfortunately law enforcement officials LIE and have certain Constitutional protections that give them immunity to do so! "Proactive Policing" is the term used in Menlo Park to justify actions that may be considered discriminatory to those that are publicly humiliated as they're detained, and being held up as spectacles for those who are privileged enough to not have to consider such disparities upon themselves.

I'm not someone that uses the "Race Card" for my leisure or convenience to justify any wrongdoing that merits criminal enforcement, and it usually bothers me when anyone else does so! I appreciate the limited sampling of data used to create your basis for analysis, and I admit it would be quite helpful if police were more transparent in regard to collecting and releasing statistics that specifically identify those that are stopped, why they were stopped, and whether or not they were cited for their alleged violation.

Let's keep in mind that I was stopped because I'm black, my friend and I were being gaslit to feel criminalized, and we were in front of the house his family has lived in and owned for two decades! No other details really matter because that is the primary reason we feel discriminated against and disrespected! Whatever was in the car is a secondary issue and shouldn't even be a point of contention!

There is a blind T-section on the corner of Chester and Menalto, and it's necessary to roll forward a bit after a complete stop is made to determine if it's safe to turn left. I'm grateful the neighborhood has gotten more traffic enforcement, it's necessary for the safety of pedestrians, pets, and the kids that play in the street!

The Chief told Debraun, Kathleen from Cafe Zoe, and I (not vernatim) that we were unfortunately in the wrong place at the wrong time, not once denying we were profiled;even added that he could never relate or know how it would feel to be black; told us he's experienced from his encounters with blacks from South Cenntral Los Angeles; brought up the Dallas shooting of police officers by a black suspect; and asked Debraun if he played basketball as we walked up the stairs following the two hour meeting on racial profiling held at police headquarters.

Everyone should feel safe in their neighborhood and specifically within the sanctity of their own home, and should reasonably do whatever it takes to secure the dwelling area; this should not include any race or gender bias, rather a clear discernment of present circumstances and then a reasonable cause for action.

Thanks again Brian for your contribution!


32 people like this
Posted by Cayo
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 22, 2017 at 11:30 am

I believe that profiling exists and has for decades in Menlo Park. A few years ago my husband and I were stopped on Willow Road on the way home from Belle Haven Clinic after our doctor appointments. The officer said we fit the description of a pair of teens who had burglarized the neighborhood. We are both 65 years old plus. We had not rolled through any stop, or done anything else to attract attention. While I appreciate being referred to as looking like a teen, this was a case of DWB.


9 people like this
Posted by Emits
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 22, 2017 at 12:27 pm

Anyone follow MPPD on Instagram? There are some telling photos and captions in there. They are a little out of touch with the community they serve.


4 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 22, 2017 at 1:30 pm

JT,

What I think bothers me is that you express your opinions as facts with nothing to support them. You were pulled over for failure to stop at a stop sign. Yet You claim that "Let's keep in mind that I was stopped because I'm black" with nothing to support that but your own opinion. You say "Police lie" well so do people pulled over for traffic violations, in fact everyone lies. Can you say what the police lied about? Do you have proof that is was a lie? If not then it would be your opinion. I will ask you again, did the police do anything during your traffic stop to violate your rights? Did they make false accusations, physically assault you, detain you without a reason? conduct an illegal search?

So far all you have said is that you were pulled over for not stopping at the stop sign, you have not even said you did come to a full and complete stop, and they they asked you why you were so nervous. I know the intersection very well, I don't know that I would call it blind, but if you come to a complete stop behind the line and then roll forward it is not illegal, are you saying you positively came to a complete stop before proceeding?

Nothing you have said is an indictment on the Menlo Park police, in fact it seems that acted appropriately. Once you were pulled over they found items that were illegal and suspicious which they asked you about. You have not said they did anything inappropriate so I am still not sure where the issue is. Is your concern solely that you were pulled over in front of a house where people you knew lived? Based on that argument I should complain that I was pulled over with my wife and kids in the car.

Help me understand what you think was done illegally or inappropriately.


18 people like this
Posted by Not Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 22, 2017 at 3:34 pm

Guilty until proven innocent, Brian?

Not the Menlo Park I want to live in.


3 people like this
Posted by Chad
a resident of another community
on Feb 22, 2017 at 3:57 pm

You can thank Facebook and its gentrification of East Menlo for the stepped up police presence and the associated profiling. [part removed.] Nobody cares about the culture and historical value of east Menlo and EPA- Obama did not nor does Zuckeroff or redface.


7 people like this
Posted by Bob Carl
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 22, 2017 at 7:46 pm

Setting aside the subject matter- it's just nice to see some solid reporting from The Almanac! Good job, Kate. Hope the paper's management invests in things like this, which require time to get out and talk to people, analyze statistics and trends, and get some nice original photos. That's the work that really stands out, not the hastily-written pieces which are basically just "scan a staff report and summarize an email from Patti Fry".


16 people like this
Posted by jt
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 22, 2017 at 8:41 pm

Hi Brian!

Thanks again for your continued involvement in this discussion, and although you were bothered in your last post, I appreciate the level of respect you've shown, and I admire how you've stood firm to defend your position!

I was legally advised to not engage any further in this debate, but I believe you and I will eventually reach a consensus and uncover an opportunity to grow in our love and compassion for others!

I've seen all sorts of drivers stopped quite often for rolling through that particular stop sign over the last twenty years, so I have always been conscious of it, and have always viewed it as a trap I should protect myself from! I completely stopped prior to rolling forward, can't prove it, neither can the cops. I did not have an open container of pot, can't prove it, neither can the cops! I had an Amber light for my comic book promotion and I can prove it, and the lead officer saw the superhero in question and therefore couldn't disprove it!

No citations were issued because the officers failed to provide a legitimate reason to pull me over other than the fact they were conducting a sting operation to capture burglars, lacking any other appropriate strategy than to pull over every person of color during that specific day, hoping their numbers game would at the very least nab just someone with unclean hands!

Certain policies are transparent and heavily advertised as such, while other operations are quite covert and rely on the sole discretion of lead officer's momentary judgement! None of us can know what we don't know, and certain things are meant for all of us to know!

My Fourth Amendment rights of the Constitution were violated and that's my legal opinion, along with the legal scholars and civil rights attorneys I've consulted with; and yes all things related to law are debatable all the way up to the Supreme Court! No valid reason warranted the initial stop, invalidating the cause to search, and ĺacking in proper risk assessment to justify my curbside detainment; especially being a man crippled by M.S. with an obvious limp and had been displaying full compliance throughout the ordeal, probably isn't going to run, nor start a fight with four officers!

I've battled Multiple Sclerosis for two decades and have gone from being bedridden to being able to walk, I don't play the victim role, the blame game, expect entitlements; nor am I quick to be defensive! I wasn't looking for problems with the police, didn't intend to get political nor historical, and wish race and socioeconomic issues weren't everyday living factors! I seek peace and good health and also pray it upon others!

Brian, we could work together to encourage the Menlo Park Police Department to design data collecting practices that will help determine if current procedures are effective, or if it's necessary to find new ways to improve race relations in the community so we can all stop talking about it!


16 people like this
Posted by Thank you
a resident of another community
on Feb 22, 2017 at 9:57 pm

I want to say "thank you" to Jonathan Turner for having the courage to come forward on this issue.

My random thoughts after reading the article and the posts:

(This comment is mainly directed at Bob). Racism isn't always (and probably is hardly ever) overt nowadays. It's not something that JT can prove, or the police can disprove. It's probably something that the police officer involved doesn't even acknowledge to himself. It takes a lot of introspection to realize that we might treat a black person differently even though we are not overtly intending to. The benefit of this article and this situation is to cause this type of introspection. Little by little, society evolves. I'm white.

Does the Menlo Park police department have a problem? Well, like JT said, only an open mind and introspective attitude on the part of the PD and city council would answer this question. I doubt very much it will happen because even though our area tends to be quite liberal, it is not when it comes to these type of issues. We all know (or should know), a cop can technically make up just about any reason to pull someone over (rolling through a stop sign, suspicious behavior, erratic driving, etc.). We expect police to only do so when there is a bona fide infraction.

From what I have read on the Almanac about the Menlo Park PD, it could really benefit from that type of introspective exercise. From the officer who was caught with a prostitute on duty (and got the union to overturn his firing), to the persecution of a senior citizen who tried to leave his home when a police officer came over (and he was entitled to), yet she tried to block his departure whereupon he was arrested and charged with trying to run her over (and acquitted very quickly), there seems to be anything but a willingness to take some hard looks within to try to improve. Nothing wrong with them doing it, or any of us.

Why should we be at all concerned if JT can't "prove" this? Well, as MLK once said, an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.


9 people like this
Posted by Rick Moen
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Feb 23, 2017 at 3:48 am

As several have said, outstanding reporting from Ms. Bradshaw. Brava.

Jonathan, sympathies to both of you about what I'm sure was an extremely unpleasant experience. (I'd have been downright petrified, so you get major respect points for poise, from me.) I hope you and DeBraun keep doing Doordash deliveries and being part of our community. Probably keeping the bag of marijuana in the trunk will be a good idea, going forward. My Uncle Ray had MS, too, so I have at least a tiny idea what you have to cope with, day to day, from that damned disease.

I know from reading your posts that you've now exited this discussion on legal advice (excellent idea seeking legal counsel and following the advice you get), but wanted to mention that I appreciate your participation here, and will go back and read what you've said a few times, to make sure I'm truly listening.

(I hope I'm not rambling because of posting at dark o'clock.)

Best Regards,
Rick Moen
rick@linuxmafia.com


9 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 23, 2017 at 1:41 pm

Menlo Park Police arrest a Hispanic man for driving without a license, even after he shows them his driver's license. He spends 2 days in jail. Would this have happened to a white man? Mercury-News report: Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 23, 2017 at 5:00 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

resident:

yes, it would have and has happened to white people. I'm sure you find that hard to believe, but I can tell you, with 10 years past law enforcement experience this kind of thing doesn't just happen to black and brown people. In my experience it had more to do with economic levels than with race. You are aware that there are poor white people, right?


11 people like this
Posted by jt
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 23, 2017 at 10:31 pm

Menlo Voter brings up a valid point and it would be unfair to not acknowledge there are poor white people, I've seen them for myself and know they exist; but dependent upon the location, most people can't and wouldn't be able to quickly identify their socioeconomic positioning.

Unlike the Blacks and the Browns, the Poor Whites have a louder voice and our President has clearly made known it was heard! He had even promised and delivered upon providing employment opportunities to address their concerns and award them for their votes!

Some may consider it an aspect of "White Privilege", which isn't a bad thing to have if you just simply have to be born into it, but there must be a recognition of the advantages and the responsibilities that come along with it!

I have to thank Kathleen Daly of Cafe Zoe for being the most recent, local level Spearhead of this discussion; her venue has served as a neighborhood Command Center for those passionately seeking solutions to abolish the societal impact of the inequalities people of color endure. She has stood up and called upon the community to no longer allow silence to be their consent for injustices brought upon the police. I was delighted to know how many cared and also surprised by those that never knew there was a problem!

I know the problem can't all be pinned on the police; I acknowledge the difficulty of their jobs, and I know it's impossible to satisfy everyone; but their discernment must be held by a higher standard to adequately account for their allocation of power and authority, and that's their contributing role to the betterment of society!

Let's continue moving forward without anyone left behind!


11 people like this
Posted by East Palo Alto Resident
a resident of another community
on Feb 23, 2017 at 10:38 pm

Menlo Park Police narcotics team is one of the most crooked and racial profiling officer I've ever experienced they find a probable cause to pull you over for nothing simple as you rolled a stop sign which is only a 3 second timed stop or license plate light is out I can barely see the numbers on it when their headlight are bright enough to see the numbers and letters or your car fits the description of a crime that just happen or just saying you fit the description which is a lie just to find out if you're a felon or on parole or probation they rarely ask for your license if you're pulled they ask if your probation or parole before identifying (people of color)
hoping they can mess with you they always choose people of color base on their policing fact that most crimes are committed by people of color which is untrue their police training very poorly they don't know how to interact with people they're quick to be so judgmental before knowing a person they also don't like to be out smarted ir being caught in a lie they are trained and taught ways that everything they must be a little bit or justifiable which its not they do whatever they want because they know they can get away with things because their superior officers backing them a 100% and will look at it as he was just doing his job he had every right to they harass people of color for no apparent reason at all I mean what do expect when we live a low income quote on quote ghetto city surrounding rich and wealthy people homes that are marketed no less then 3.8 million dollars it's their job to protect these people by any means necessary so to them it's more then a simple traffic stop its a key to find out if truly belong around this neighborhood or are you a crimmal most people who are caucasian don't exprenice this at all so most see as police do their job but theres a bigger picture to that when being pulled over as a person of color just because you look like you're up to no good when you're simply doing nothing wrong or minding your business and this is sad but very true and reality in the world we live in


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Posted by JB
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 24, 2017 at 6:41 pm

Would you all prefer the east side go back to the way it was?


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Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 25, 2017 at 3:41 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

@EPA Res. I guss you want your city to be known as the murder capitol of the nation again.

Lots of stories, not many facts.


3 people like this
Posted by Sabocat
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 26, 2017 at 9:20 pm

I wonder if Brian has watched the excellent Netflix documentary "13th." Maybe that would help him put the information shared here in some context.


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle

on Jul 12, 2017 at 7:13 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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