SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — Bay Area cops and young athletes came together Monday to discuss some serious issues in the “black lives, blue lives” era, and what both groups found out is that they have a lot to learn from each other.
At CEFCU Stadium on the San Jose State University campus, it was not your typical community meeting. The Spartan football team invited San Jose Police to the team’s weekly speaker series.
Chief Eddie Garcia told the young, mostly minority athletes: we need to talk.
“Men hate each other because they fear each other. They fear each other because they don’t know each other. They don’t know each other because they don’t talk,” said Garcia.
And talk they did. Officers got an earful. Isaak Togia described how he was roughed up while in handcuffs.
“I looked to the other guy, and he was – I’m not trying to bring race into this – but, like, he was Caucasian, and they weren’t doing the same thing to him,” said Togia.
Boogie Roberts said he was driving home from hand surgery when an officer in Southern California pulled him over with no explanation.
“I only had one hand so I was trying to reach for my wallet but I guess I was taking too long so then he was just like, ‘Well could you just step out of the car?’” said Roberts. “[He] put me in handcuffs and then he was like, squeezing it. And I was like, ‘ahhh!’ And then he was like, ‘Oh, stop being soft.’”
Officer Tim Jackson explained to wide receiver Tre Walker their procedures in gang-infested neighborhoods.
“You got a high crime area, there’s gonna be some stops, man. Let’s be real, right? Sometimes it’s gonna be the wrong guy,” said Jackson. “And that’s why I try to tell everybody, ‘Hey man, first of all if you get stopped, just be cool.’ It’s a compliance thing, okay? If you’re cool, generally, we figure it out. ‘Ok, this guy’s a baller, he’s an athlete, he’s clean. Hey man you know what, have a nice day.’”
The gathering seemed to work. In a text message-based poll, they were asked, How do you feel after the small group discussions? 92% said they felt better about SJPD.
Roberts was still skeptical. “Let’s say somebody said in here, they had a great conversation with a cop. But the moment he feels the cop doesn’t respect him, I feel like all that conversation go out the window,” said Roberts.
But Walker was surprised that he changed his mind.
“I was overwhelmed, them saying how much they care about us and the community and care about what we think they should do,” said Walker.