San Diego’s elite should be held accountable

January 21, 2016

Alex Kueny reports on the ongoing struggle to hold city officials and police accountable for the killing of an unarmed man by San Diego police last year.

SOME 40 activists gathered outside of San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer's State of the City address at the Balboa Theater on January 14 to protest the San Diego Police Department's (SDPD) murder of Fridoon Rashawn Nehad, an unarmed 42-year old refugee from Afghanistan.

Nehad was shot just after 11 p.m. on April 30, 2015, by 27-year SDPD veteran Neal Browder. Police said they thought Nehad was carrying a knife. In fact, it was a metallic pen.

The protesters' primary demands were for the firing and indictment of Officer Browder, and the resignation of San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis. Politicians, police officers and members of the 1 Percent attending the speech were forced to walk around the protesters to enter the theater, amid chants of "Indict Browder" and "Down with Dumanis."

Activists and community members from around San Diego came together to plan the event after a court ruling forced the DA's office to release private security footage that showed the shooting. Groups present included the International Socialist Organization (ISO), the San Diego Socialist Campaign (SDSC), Socialist Alternative, Black Lives Matter, United Against Police Terror, Activist San Diego, Women Occupy SD, Artful Activists SD, the Overpass Light Brigade, and Uhuru. ISO member Sandra Galindo, who is the SDSC's candidate for City Council in June 2016, called on Mayor Faulconer and the City Council (both of whom opposed the release of the shooting video) to issue statements calling for Dumanis' resignation and Browder's firing and indictment.

Fridoon Rashawn Nehad
Fridoon Rashawn Nehad

Staphanie Navarro, also of the ISO, drew parallels with the Lacquan McDonald
case in Chicago, which has forced the firing of Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy:

Whether in Chicago, Baltimore, Oakland or San Diego, our nation's law enforcement and our nation's "protectors of justice" have shown that they are only interested in protecting themselves, while depriving their citizens of what justice truly is. This is not an isolated incident, and we are certainly not alone in this fight. Now we are here to tell our city that we are ready to shake the political foundations of corruption in our local government, just as folks across the United States have.

San Diego's elite may think that they've escaped being held to the standards of true justice, but we are here to tell them that this is not the case. We will no longer let this business as usual continue and we will no longer accept city officials who act for themselves at the expense of us, the people of San Diego.

The protest was the first action of hopefully many in what is expected to be an ongoing political struggle to attain justice for Fridoon. In addition to calling for the firing and indictment of Browder and the resignation of Dumanis, the protesters called for SDPD to release information and records on all officer-related shootings; the formation of a community review board for police matters with members elected by public vote (rather than the current policy of selection by mayoral appointment); and statements from the mayor and all city councilors on Dumanis' failure to indict Officer Browder.

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