September 23, 2015
(ANTIMEDIA) On Tuesday afternoon, police accountability group United Against Police Terror-San Diego held a press conference at the San Diego Sheriff’s Department headquarters, demanding answers as to why a threatening email sent to their website was traced back to the Sheriff’s Department. UAPTSD focuses on documenting deaths related to police action and calls for reforms to law enforcement institutions.
On September 16th, UAPTSD posted screenshots to their Facebook page that show the threatening message. The message reads, “Fuck you, you stupid pieces of shit.” The barely literate author of the message continues by calling protestors “animals,” praising “the real citezens [sic] of this county and the nation” who “work hard” and “dont [sic] accept government welfare.” The email called the activists “scum.” The email ends with, “Good luck. Your [sic] going to need it.”
In reaction to the email, Mitchell Sterling, spokesman for UAPTSD, posted on Facebook that the group was able to track the IP address of the email and use an IP lookup service to track the email to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department — specifically, the Communication Center located at 5555 Overland Avenue in Building 12.
Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Melissa Aquino told Voices of San Diego an investigation has been launched into the claims. “It appears the email came from a Sheriff’s Department IP address. We are taking this very seriously and an internal investigation is underway to determine where, how and who it came from,” she said. “As such, we are unable to provide any additional information at this time, but we are taking this matter very seriously.”
On Tuesday afternoon, the activists rallied outside the SDSD to seek accountability and answers. San Diego’s CBS 8 reported that UAPTSD filed a complaint with the county’s Citizens Law Enforcement Review Board. Lt. Marco Garmo spoke at the press conference, stating, “We are taking this very seriously, and an internal investigation is underway to determine where, how, and who the email came from.”
Catherine Mendonca, community organizer with United Against Police Terror and AF3IRM San Diego, told Anti-Media she came to the press conference “to publicly denounce the actions of the SD County Sheriff’s dept[sic], ridiculing us and our mission for justice for the community whom we serve, in particular, calling protesters demanding justice in places like Ferguson as ‘animals.’”
Mendonca said the email was a “product of a culture rooted in racism and supremacy – as shown in racial profiling data and the 32 documented cases of people killed by the SD County Sheriff’s [sic].” She went on to say that the SDSD has “no empathy or respect to community members practicing our first amendment right to free speech,” remarking that the emails are “evidence that it is infact[sic] law enforcement who is dividing everyone into allies or enemies.”
This latest saga between police accountability activists and the police is yet another example of the divisions gripping the country. Without a doubt, individuals who threaten violence against other free humans should be held accountable. However, we should not allow ourselves to be sucked into a false paradigm of the people versus the police.
Any good-hearted police officers remaining within the ranks of the increasingly militarized local police departments should quickly leave as conscientious objectors. Only by making it clear that their intention is to support the community — not defend the state — will officers gain the support of the people. At the same time, the activists in the streets should make it clear they are against violent criminals, not misguided individuals who joined the police force in an effort to serve and protect.
We can find common ground and strengthen our bonds and unity by recognizing the way this system is dividing us along lines of race and profession, among other things. We are one and it’s time we start organizing and acting like it. Let’s not further divide ourselves. Instead, let’s work towards the harmony and unity of all people and focus our energies on our mutual enemies.
United Against Police Terror-San Diego maintains #SDStolenLives, a list of people killed by San Diego law enforcement agencies, which includes over 240 killed, 400 brutalized, and at least 32 people killed by the San Diego Sheriff’s Department alone.
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