A South Pas Community Member’s Critical Question for SPPD

(SOURCE: The South Pasadenan)

Written by Deb McCurdy

In late July, I planned to write about the ongoing Black Lives Matter demonstrations in South Pasadena, organized after George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police while in their custody. I also planned to write about how on July 8 a man, (allegedly) Joe Richcreek, carrying a sharpened drumstick, approached one of our local demonstrators, Fahren James, argued with her, spat in the face of another, Victoria Patterson, then left the scene before police arrived (read Victoria Patterson’s account of the incident here). This assault was recorded on camera. Richcreek allegedly returned to the BLM demonstration on July 10 and after a verbal exchange, picked up a rock, threw it at James, hitting her in the leg and once again, fled on bicycle. He was followed by several witnesses. They were able to stop him and when police arrived, there was a group of about six people gathered (according to my interview with James). A video of this incident was also recorded on camera and is available on social media.

One of the officers involved in the suspect’s July 10 arrest, Officer Randy Wise, can be heard on the video making some concerning statements. He seemed angry at one of those gathered, London Lang. Wise told him, “You guys caused this!” and “The cop hating around here is so wrong … we aren’t Minneapolis… why bring this to our city? We don’t need this here!” Wise also described the South Pasadena BLM demonstrations as “anti-police” in his official report — all curious to me, since it was the suspect’s violence that initiated these events and the demonstrators made no mention during interviews of being “anti-police.”

I called the SPPD several times, hoping to speak with Officer Wise. I e-mailed him and cc’d Chief Ortiz. I got no response. I was, however, able to speak with Chief Ortiz on several occasions. He explained that the suspect was “cited out,” for the rock throwing, but not cited for the spitting. In other words, he was handed a citation and was free to go until his court date, despite any prior history of arrests and convictions. I asked the Chief what he thought about our local demonstrators. He said he was glad they were here and that they have been “conscientious and respectful of property.”

As I drafted this letter, our country witnessed the McCloskeys, a suburban couple pointing their guns at BLM protesters in St. Louis, the police shooting of a black man, Jacob Blake, in Kenosha, Wisconsin and the subsequent civilian killing of BLM protesters in that same city, allegedly by a 17 year old with an AR-15. There’s a video of this armed civilian being thanked for his participation by a Kenosha police officer upon his arrival. This video raised questions for me as well. It seemed odd that this armed civilian was welcomed by their police department while our unarmed civilian was criticized. Regardless . . .

I still haven’t heard back from Officer Wise. As South Pasadena citizens we are only privy to his police report, I suppose. I did speak with some of the people involved in the demonstrations and apprehension of the suspect , though. I asked many questions, but the question I got the most cogent response to was, “What does ‘Black Lives Matter’ mean to you?” I asked Officer Wise the same question in an email. I asked Chief Ortiz during one of our calls. There was a long pause. “I’m going to have to think about that,” he finally stated. I said I was happy to give him time, since I felt it was an important question we all should ponder. It’s now one month and several phone messages later and I still have had no response from Chief Ortiz or Officer Wise on the matter. My hope is that they are continuing to ponder it, as the dog days of summer drag on and as the demonstrations, protests, riots and killings around our country do the same.

This article represents the views and opinions of the author solely and does not express the opinions of all ARC members.

The ARC News page is meant to be a collaborative community space. If you are interested in having something posted here, please email arc.southpasadena@gmail.com.

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