'Walking While Black' Another Concern For African Americans Says Sacramento NAACP Chapter President

April 21, 2017 | If the challenges of driving were not enough for the African American community when dealing law enforcement, the ...

April 21, 2017 |

If the challenges of driving were not enough for the African American community when dealing law enforcement, the President of the NAACP Sacramento chapter added another item to the list of their concerns.

Dovetailing on the well-documented anxiety of driving while Black, Betty Williams said the African American community now have another fear when dealing with police - walking while Black.

Williams comments came in a statement issued yesterday in the aftermath of the arrest and beating of an African American man in Sacramento for alleged jaywalking. In that April 10 incident, Nandia Cain Jr., 24, of Sacramento was beaten by an unidentified white Sacramento Police Department officer for jaywalking on a residential street in Sacramento's Del Paso Heights neighborhood.

The incident, which was initially video recorded by a bystander that went viral, showed the officer striking Cain 18 times before arresting him. The following day a video of the incident captured on the patrol vehicle camera was released by Sacramento Police.

Charges against Cain have been dropped and the officer, whose name has not been released, is on paid administrative leave. Cain reportedly was said to have challenged the officer to a fight.

Williams said in the statement "African American[s] concerned about driving while Black now have to be concerned about walking while Black."

Citing community concerns that there is "an overwhelming belief that this behavior is far from an ‘isolated incident,’" Williams said the incident points to the systemic problems in the culture, training, and accountability with the City of Sacramento and the police department.

“The training and ongoing patterns of aggressive, disrespectful and potentially deadly behavior demonstrated by a small minority of officers appears to have become, nonetheless, almost routine," Williams said.

The Sacramento Bee reports that the Sacramento Police Department received a $622,627 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety focusing on pedestrian safety in Del Paso's business district which saw a dramatic jump in pedestrian fatalities. Further analysis by the Bee showed that 75-percent of jaywalking citations issued citywide have been in Del Paso Heights police district, and close to 50-percent of all jaywalking citations have been issued to African Americans.

Williams is calling Mayor Darrell Steinberg, City Manager Howard Chan, and Acting Police Chief Brian Louie to conduct a thorough investigation of the incident as well as the other use-of-force incidents of people of color.

“As president of the NAACP, I sat on the community police commission, and I can attest to how quickly it became apparent to me how little power or influence the current body has in seeing that justice is served," Williams said. "We need changes now."


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