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Weekly editorial urges police chief to step down

Original post made on Nov 7, 2008

Embattled Palo Alto Police Chief Lynne Johnson should step down as police chief in the face of a firestorm of protest about her comments relating to how officers relate to minority persons, the Palo Alto Weekly concludes today in an editorial.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, November 7, 2008, 9:50 AM

Comments (55)

Posted by Concerned Retiree
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2008 at 10:47 am

It may be time for Lynn Johnson to step down, but it may be time for the rest of us to step up and admit that if blacks/latinos or whites or purples are causing crimes, skin color is just part of the description the police must use to find them. This is not about race, this is about crime and those folks who want to march over here from East Palo Alto should realize that.

In Arizona, they have tazer classes for women. Anyone interested in starting one here?

Posted by Resident
a resident of Southgate
on Nov 7, 2008 at 10:54 am

Oh yes, the Palo Alto "Weakly" has spoken again! The content in that paper is worth every penny I pay for it. The Chief is doing what needs to be done let's move on.

Posted by To Concerned Retiree
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Nov 7, 2008 at 11:09 am

These robbers/burglars need to be caught AND your chief needs to be a much better communicator. Racial profiling AND burglary/robbery are both illegal, harmful and dangerous. These are all serious issues which need to be addressed. The march is addressing racial profiling. Please call to task your PD to ensure they are addressing the burglaries/robberies more than competently, as it's hard to tell what's really going on with your chief's verbal fumbles.

Posted by South PA resident
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 7, 2008 at 11:11 am

Regardless of who is Cheif, we need someone that can act on the facts without falling into the racial profiling trap. I've lived in some bad places, but Palo Alto has been the worst in terms of crime effecting me personally. I amazed that such a reputable place can't seem to get this right! Is it really that hard to protect or lives and property and civil rights at the same time? I'm sure we can make some improvements...

Posted by To South PA resident
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 7, 2008 at 11:17 am

Awesome words! You are right - these problems can be dealt with competently - all the problems. As one who's in your town every day on business, I'm worried. As one who cares about civil liberties, I'm worried. As well-intentioned as your chief may be, she committed a horrendous blunder, very publicly. I know it's easier to get caught making a verbal blunder than it is snatching a purse, so I deeply hope the street thugs are caught very, very soon.

Posted by Todd
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 7, 2008 at 11:19 am

What a shameful recommendation!
these perpetrators are raping and pillaging our village and let's remove the chief is your answer? Johnson has done a fine job protecting our little borough and how outrageous for the weekly rag to recommend she step down during this critical time over some gaff.

Posted by women
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 7, 2008 at 11:19 am

if the rober has purple hair it just means the robber has purple hair.
A description of what the person looks like. Thats all this is. Give me a break!!!!

Posted by concerned about it
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2008 at 11:20 am

The rageing is continuing..what now bleeding hearts??

Posted by Carol
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 7, 2008 at 11:26 am

Doesn't her "long history as "a strong advocate for modern policing practices that are respectful of civil liberties" and for "increasing diversity of all kinds within police department's." say something about what her "intentions" were? I wish the same effort were put forth to catch the bad guys and is being put forth to discredit those trying to protect our citizens.

Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2008 at 11:27 am

We should not do racial profiling we should be doing criminal profiling.

This how you do it while being fair.

Thugs from out of town do not walk into Palo Alto, they drive cars.

Typically the cars these thugs have will have expired tags, broken tail lights or some other equipment violation, and they may often commit moving violation, even if quite minor.

At a traffic stop the PAPD can ask for ID and insurance, they can run the ID through the criminal justice records. If anything comes up they move to the next step.
If nothing comes up they write a ticket.
If during the stop and interaction with the driver they believe they have probable cause then they can search the car, ask for the ID of other occupants and question them.

I believe that very strict enforcement of the traffic and DMV code will solve this crime wave without race being an issue.

It will mean everyone driving in Palo Alto will have to comply very carefully with the DMV and traffic code, an inconvenience maybe, but better than fear on the streets and in our homes.

If the PAPD does this then I believe the problem will be solved and word will get around fast, thugs will stop coming here.

Posted by PAPD supporter
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2008 at 11:46 am

Chief Johnson should remain in her positoin. Chief Johnson's actions over 30 years speak louder than her words. To learn for yourself and experience more about how the Palo Alto Police department operates and is managed, enroll in the Citizen's Police Academy. See Web Link
or ask to go on a Ride-a-Long with a PA officer. You will see that PAPD operates and is managed very well.

Posted by RJ
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 7, 2008 at 11:59 am

What a politically correct response! No logic, no concern for crime victims, no understanding of police work. It's just PC. How pathetic.

Posted by M. Harrison
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 7, 2008 at 12:03 pm

The Weekly is circling the drain and needs to do extreme things to attract readers. You wouldn't have seen such a sensationalistic editorial in the Weekly five years ago, but now they're desperate. They want people to talk about what they're writing about.

Posted by The Professor
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 7, 2008 at 1:05 pm

In Palo Alto I've had computers, expensive, high powered desktop computers, stolen from my office. I've also had my wallet stolen by pickpockets at University Cafe. I have no idea what the computer thieves looked like, but I did see the pickpockets, a middle aged man and a younger woman accomplice. They were white and looked like prosperous, middle class, upstanding citizens. My guess is that the computer thieves also did not fit any stereotype of criminal appearance.

In both cases the police were unable to catch the perpetrators, but they did inform me that the computer thieves had been operating for quite a while. Ditto the pickpocket ring, despite the fact that they had good, independent descriptions of the people involved. This doesn't sound like effective policing to me and, personally, I think it is time for a change. It's time for new leadership and new thinking at the police department.

It's also time for more cooperation between PA and EPA, not less.

Posted by CommonSense
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2008 at 1:44 pm

"He (Jay Thorwaldson) said the conclusion was difficult personally for him as he has known and respected Johnson since she joined the department in the 1970s as a patrol officer."

Wow! With 'friends' like Weekly Editor Jay Thorwaldson who needs enemies? Has Mr. Thorwaldson never mispoke in the last thirty years? I think the Weekly needs to stop chasing the tails of the Daily and get back to the Community stories we all loved to read. I don't need Weekly exposes that don't necessarily express the views of the community at large dumped into my mailbox twice a week.

Whoever thought that the Weekly would become a speak out for left wing liberals? Like the troublemaker who tripped up Chief Johnson at the meeting causing her to misspeak? Was that person a plant for the Weekly? Would be interseting to find out.

You know what makes me laugh? All of the allegedly 'enlightened' people on here such as (The Chronicles of Ms.) Narnia and Jay Thorwaldson of The Weekly. The people being so supercilious toward any of us who just want our Police dept. to get on with business as usual. All of these patronizing outsiders putting in their two cents and their promises to march. All of these supposed self described 'white' people crying shame and screeching foullike howler monkeys about the Police Dept. and really, Palo Altans in general 'lumping' in all African Americans and making the sum total equal to CRIME. About Racial profiling when they do not have a clear understanding of the term and what it means.

Did anyone EVER say ALL African americans were to be stopped? Did the Chief? NO. What was called for was the stopping and questioning of those whom fit a certain suspect descriptor. That would be the Police Department DOING THEIR JOB. Many of you work in business. Do you not slate your advertising budget and other business forecasts and reports toward certain demigraphics? Do you not in fact, PROFILE your customer base? Do we not have to quantify something every day of our lives in order to recognize it for what it is?

Police officers are trained to deal in FACT. The FACTS, according to every headline around here lately, dictate that there is one particular demigraphic coming out in the lead, if you will, in committing these particular crimes. We want these crimes stopped. How do we do that? We do a PROFILE of the crimes and come up with a common demoninator. Then we set about looking for people who fit that descriptor and who are acting in a suspicious manner and check them out. Hypothetically, it may be that we are looking at 8 black suspects, 5 white, 4 Latino and 2 Asian for various crimes. ALL will be checked out, according to the profiles. When specifically asked the descriptors for the perpetrators of these particular crimes, the answer is clear, and the Chief answered honestly based on victim reports. This is NOT an edict to arrest and force into the court system. IT'S JUST TO CHECK THEM OUT. As YOU would do in your home, you business, your LIFE. You check out the anamolies.

Once again, educate yourselves on HARD Racial Profiling, which IS wrong, and SOFT racial profiling, which at times, is NECESSARY to solve crime.

Web Link

And check this one out, it's fascinating, from an African American publication, with some interesting viewpoints on hard vs. soft racial profiling: Web Link

It seems to me the people screaming the loudest are the actual racists. They are jumping en masse to protect a perceived unfairness to a 'race' while overlooking the biggest race of all; the HUMAN race.
What's the matter? The human race not seductive enough for you?

People are being terrorized and hurt. We are frightened. We, the PEOPLE. VICTIMS of ALL of races and cultures. If you want to harp on specific races, remember that black on black crime is among one of the worst statistics in the country. So next time that you, like the rabble rouser Mayor of EPA, the City Council, The Palo Alto Mayor, The City Manager, Ms. Narnia and Dr. Knox want to feel holier-than-thou; remember the toll this is taking on PEOPLE. Your constituents. Your friends. Your workmates. Your neighbors. Your families.

ALL PEOPLE. It's not a race issue. It's a people issue, it's a public safety issue, it's a criminal issue. And unfortunately for most of us, it's an attractive and opportunistic issue upon which opportunistic people in certain positions of power can play their nasty little political games.

What the hell ever happened to common sense and community loyalty? What ever happened to core values such as caring about your friends and neighbors? Some think they are all about the caring when they attack others for wanting to feel safe in their own homes. They think they are defending the bigger picture, especially when they smugly point that out in their condescending patronizing tones practically accusing others of being neo fascists when those others recognize the need for law enforcement to follow the FACTS when attempting to solve a crime. In fact all they are actually doing is causing more dissension and deviciveness in our OWN community. Palo Alto is a community made up of all races and cultures. We are a community that is currently under attack by thugs.

Let's take the Chiefs apology as it is (I am certain she has learned a valuable lesson) and let her and the rest of the Police Department GET BACK TO THE GOOD JOB THEY HAVE BEEN DOING PROTECTING THIS COMMUNITY.

Posted by Retired City Employee
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 7, 2008 at 2:20 pm

The police spend too much time hanging around the police station. Get out on the street!

Posted by Ralph
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2008 at 2:36 pm

Sweep out the stable. It's time for Chief Johnson to go. Ease her out gracefully with a press release about her retirement, thanks for her past service, etc. and then move on.

Posted by oh
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2008 at 2:39 pm

and the cops all over the vallewy,palo alto included, whove spent a grand total of an hour and a half checking my pockets for things that dont exist,like drugs.look at all that tax money and judicial time spent on cannabis ,which is not dangerous compared to alcohol.but you can drink all yu want in a bar or anywhere,but no.if you have a cannabis leaf ,your police system is wasting your hard earned money,

Posted by A concerned citizen of Palto Alto
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 7, 2008 at 2:39 pm

A Police Officer's first duty is to protect the citizens of the area from criminals. In this case, the chief was clearly acting to do her duty.

A slip in communication does not call for a resignation. She has apologized enough. Time to let go, people, so the police can get to their work.

Posted by shameontheWeekly
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 7, 2008 at 2:52 pm

And just exactly ARE Mr.Thorwaldsons qualifications in law enforcement? He apparently thinks he knows enough to call for the firing of a Police Chief. Oh bit wait, he mentioned 'communication' as being her weakness. Isn't communication HIS job? And policing, HERS?

How would any of YOU feel if someone outside your company called for YOUR firing, especially in these trying economic times. For Shame Palo Alto Weekly!

Posted by ?
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 7, 2008 at 2:58 pm

If we listened to Jay's opinion and relied on The Weakly we'd be in a pickle. Maybe you'd feel differently if you were mugged and had to describe your assailant without using any terms that could be construed as racial (that includes Caucasian too you know). This posturing is very abstract until you're the victim of a crime and then you appreciate the fine police work of the Chief. I agree with the earlier posting that purple hair just means purple hair.

Posted by Former Resident
a resident of another community
on Nov 7, 2008 at 4:30 pm

Will the resignation (or retirement) of the Police Chief address (and solve), what appears to be, the increase in robberies in Palo Alto? While the Police Chief's public statements may have lacked political correctness, they did not necessarily misrepresent the facts. The City's attention and energies should be focused on ending the robberies, not removing the Police Chief.

Posted by David
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2008 at 5:28 pm

I am incensed by this witch hunt. All you politically correct people should get a lease on life. The chief should stay.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2008 at 5:56 pm

Rather than make editorial decisions which are at best hypothetical, a better idea for the editorial meeting would be trying to see how the Weekly could help in this crime spree. Maybe if you tried analysing all the various crimes over the past few months and looking for common denominators could help. Maybe if you could find out how the investigations are going, that would help. Maybe if you interviewed City council members on what they are doing, that would help.

There are many things a newspaper can do to help. So far, calling for the police chief's resignation or retirement, does nothing to help.

Posted by S Li
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 7, 2008 at 7:43 pm

There is nothing wrong with profiling when there is a specific suspect. The press makes it ugly by calling it Racial Profiling. What the police in Palo Alto and Menlo Park used to do a decade ago was Racial Profiling when they routinely sent a police car out if someone reported a black person in a white neighborhood. I think the police are doing their job when they ask a black stranger a few more questions, but they should do it cordially and with no presumption of guilt. The racial bias comes through when they would apologize profusely if they stop a white person to question while they treat every black person as a presumed felon.

Posted by job
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 7, 2008 at 8:13 pm

The EPAPD are welcome to ask me questions when I am in EPA, I am white my wife is Asian we have no problem, what IS the problem?

Posted by let it go
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2008 at 8:52 pm

if any white, black, asian, white, etc. person has a problem with being respectfully stopped for questioning because he fits the profile of a criminal offender, that person is a fool. if I'm an honest black, or asian, latino, or white man, i want to see the dishonest ones in my racial category put away. if I'm a fool, i make it difficult for the police to do their work, and make it easier for the criminals with my race and personal description of close resemblance to keep wreaking havoc. what happened to beat cops who, seeing ^^anyone^^ after a certain hour, would say "hey, what are you up to? where are you going? let's see some id!" At least 80x more people than the 500 people who are supposed to come out on this march agree with chief johnson, but they keep quiet because a few hypocritical fools, attention-craving loudmouths, and a few ultra-pc journalists and politicians have too much of a voice in our city. people are afraid...they want solutions...they don't want a talk-down-to-em press that religiously parses toward its own pc bias. as for the weekly editorial writers; they need to pack it in, have a pc organic frozen yogurt, and get back to their cultural events desk...or go off quietly into the sunset; it's getting about time. the chief has made mistakes and she has apologized. when was the last time that the weekly apologized?

Posted by AttentionCityOfPaloAlto
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2008 at 9:24 pm

Attention City Hall: The tide is beginning to turn. The braver Palo Altans are starting to finally speak out.

We want to keep our Police Chief to keep her job and give her the latitude to get the job done. Don't worry she's learned her lesson.

My friend has a police scanner and he told me some more stuff in the same vein went down today. Same descriptors. We are under siege Palo Alto, let's get behind our clearly demoralized Police dept.

Posted by KT
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2008 at 9:42 pm

Chief Johnson should have had someone read her statement before making it, but what she said was not in any way to encourage racial profiling in my book. She was stating that the police would be looking out for suspects that were black and wearing do-rags, JUST AS THE SUSPECTS WHO COMMITED THE CRIME WERE WEARING!!! This is NOT racial profiling when you are LOOKING for a the crime was already committed! If she were guilty of racial profiling she would tell her officers to stop black men with do-rags even without a history of a crime being committed!!!!!!! According to victims descriptions, black men with do-rags are committing crimes in this area....therefore it is only SANE, RIGHT, and UNBIASED to look for black men in do-rags that are "acting suspicious" or fit the description of the perp. I understand that racism isn't completely a non-issue these days, but why does it have to be a nondescriptive??? What if she said 'men in do-rags', would that have helped? what if the police chased after a white man in a do rag just to be nonbiased, knowing full well that the race of the person who committed the crime was african american?
I am not a racist; if someone is committing a crime, white or black, yellow, green or purple...I want that person caught. I want the purple man in the do-rag caught.....who cares what race.....don't let me be robbed and beaten and become a helpless victim of a selfish crime because the police are not allowed toselect a subpopulation of people to make our streets safer. If Lynn Johnson steps down because people take her committment to helping our community out of context I will be very disappointed!

Posted by Worry
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 7, 2008 at 9:45 pm

Robbers/burglars need to be caught!
Support the cops!
It is a shame to remove our attention from catching the needed to down the police chief!

Posted by Anne
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2008 at 10:36 pm

If the culprits were 5' tall 60-year-old white women, then that's who she would have said to look for. Jay, you've lost it.

Posted by Joe
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 7, 2008 at 11:41 pm

We at Barron Park support our police chief.
Her comments, which weren't said in the correct way, have been completely taken out of context.
In this time, we should be supporting the police and granting it more power to apprehend suspects rather than limiting its power.

We need the police to protect us.

Posted by ernest chow
a resident of Triple El
on Nov 8, 2008 at 8:26 am

I think Jay Thorwaldson should step down for his inept communication with the public.

Chief Johnson's long history as "a strong advocate for modern policing practices that are respectful of civil liberties" and for "increasing diversity of all kinds within police department's.” is what Palo Alto needs. Others are deflecting the problem of crime in Palo Alto to the Chief. The Chief layed out the facts of a crime trend, she did not teach a class on search and seizure and consensual stops, if you want to learn police stuff go take a class.

Jay Thorwaldson has been editor of the Palo Alto Weekly since June, 2000 -- after serving for 18 years as director of public affairs at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and for 15 years before that as a reporter and later an editor at the former Palo Alto Times/Peninsula Times Tribune. Thorwaldson was raised in Los Gatos, edited the high school paper, and went on to become editor of the Spartan Daily at San Jose State University. He received the Tall Tree Award in 2001, as well as receiving several journalistic awards earlier -- one for helping police break up a neo-Nazi terrorist group active in Palo Alto and Menlo Park in the late 1960s.

Jay has been around too long, he has done too much for the Palo Alto community to help us any more. So for these reasons Jay you need to step down now. There will be a march on the Palo Alto Weekly this Sunday at 1:00. Film at 11

Posted by MK
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Nov 8, 2008 at 5:38 pm

Chief Johnson should keep her job. The Weekly is desperate, trying to come up with ways to notice them.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 8, 2008 at 6:51 pm

Wait - have the PA police/Chief been formally accused of racial profiling? have they been found guilty of this? Okay what was said was not appropriate - but are they guilty?? This is a WITCH hunt! Now, if this has actually been happening and it is proven - that is another story. PA has been beating the police up over the increase in crimes. Where are the constructive solutions? EPA - hello , maybe you should mobilize to solve your own problems - no maybe if we focus on PA we don't have to look at our own problems.

This really isn't a race issue - this is a problem with people actually wanting to solve the problem.

Posted by Amy
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Nov 8, 2008 at 7:01 pm

I am sure glad we live in the Palo Alto Hills.
We will stay away from Palo Alto as much as possible for the future. Palo Alto used to be a nice college town.
Growing up here and going to Stanford, I and my husband always felt safe.
Now it is getting like Bezerkley, even worse, and that is reason for grief, how did it come to this?
Any thoughts from long term residents?

Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 8, 2008 at 7:05 pm

Who was the person who asked Chief Johnson about racial profiling at the city hall meeting? If anyone on this forum attended this meeting, I want to know.

Posted by Concerned
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 9, 2008 at 7:55 am

The Chief is capable but is not good at all in community relations. Emily Harrison was capable too, but harshly insensitive to her co-workers. It was best that Ms. Harrison left as it will be best for Chief Johnson to leave. With Harrison and ex-Finance Director Yeats now gone and Chief Johnson soon to follow, the next holdovers that should go are City Attorney Baum and Human Resources Director Carlsen. With a clean slate the new City Manager will have a team that is sensitive to community needs and good and good team builders within the organization.

Posted by WTG
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 9, 2008 at 10:26 am


Posted by Ralph Erdman
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 9, 2008 at 11:51 am

Unfortunately when the rights of African Americans are violated by racial profiling we all suffer. Chief Johnson has supported members of her department charged with felony assault upon African Americans in the past so this is not a slip of the tongue. She is the police chief and her influence filters down throughout the whole organization. We need a new culture within the police department one that is able to provide justice for all not just to certain segments of the population. Police officers have to know that with the authority they are empowered with does not give them the right to violate the civil rights of the citizens with impunity.
When Chief Johnson supports rogue elements of her department over the rights of Palo Alto citizens it is time for her to go. If she is so blinded by the loyalty to her officers even to the point of officers charging the innocent with murder then we need a chief who will apply the law fairly to all citizens of our community.

Let us send a message to city hall!!! We will no longer support those who seek to violate our civil rights and the public trust with our hard earned tax dollars. We can do better and with the $130,000 plus salaries some police officers are making we can do better. I am sure we can attract men and women who will keep the oaths they take. It is not JUST US but Justice. Let us find a chief that will honor the constitution and the bill of rights, not use it as a doormat.

Posted by An Eyewitness
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2008 at 3:36 pm

To "Resident of Old Palo Alto" who asked HOW the subject of racial profiling came up: You are very perceptive. I attended the meeting at which the whole firestorm began. Two questions were asked by two men that have HISTORIES, at city council meetings, of BERATING the police department, and of BERATING Chief Johnson, in particular, at every opportunity. Both men also spoke at Monday night's council meeting too, after Chief Johnson delivered her apology. While the purpose was for everyone to address City Council under Oral Communications, I took great interest in watching that, for almost his entire speech, the shorter man looked directly at the 40 Black Stanford students in the audience, completely ignoring city council as he spoke. In fact, he had his back to city council. This whole thing is blown way out of proportion. In the past, when the shorter man is addressing council (the PAPD is his pet peeve) his manner is unnerving. So when he raised his hand to ask his question about racial profiling, instead of 'silence' going through the room (as reported in another publication) I sensed a collective sigh, as if people thought, "Oh NO, it's HIM. What's his beef now?" After he baited Chief Johnson with his question, I felt she did a good job of respectfully answering him & getting back to the subject, which was, bottom line: the PAPD were looking for a person that fit the robber's description. Thursday night's meeting was about a ROBBER WHOSE DRAWING HAD BEEN DISTRIBUTED THOUGHOUT THE CITY BY THE POLICE DEPARTMENT!! Everyone has been looking for someone fitting that description!! There's a Hotline number to call, if we see someone that fits!!! My word!! Are we all racial profilers? The good news is it's encouraging to read in this blog that Palo Alto residents are now putting two and two together. "Resident from Old Palo Alto": your observation hit the bull's eye. The Palo Alto Weekly is to be patted on the head. Their recommendation is to be ignored. ALERT: There has been an INCREASE in robberies, since those two agitators at the meeting were succesful with distracting the PAPD, by binding and gagging the Police Chief. Lastly, it was only a year ago the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce had a special Barbecue to honor 4 Firefighters and 4 Policemen, for their bravery. The people in the PAPD put their lives on the line, every day. If there are a few bad apples, let's address it. But we all need to put current events into perspective.

Posted by Have Friends in PA
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Nov 9, 2008 at 4:23 pm

Well, so much for all your Palo Alto liberalism. All I've read is that residents of PA think racial profiling is okay as long as it makes them feel "safe" and excuses for the Chief's comments. I guess believing in equality for all ends when crime comes to YOUR neighborhood. I am African American and refuse to subject myself to illegal profiling so you can feel safe. So, I'll miss my friends who live there. No way I'll ever spend time or money there again. Sleep well Palo Alto.

Posted by let it go
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2008 at 7:08 pm

"All I've read is that residents of PA think racial profiling is okay as long as it makes them feel "safe" and excuses for the Chief's comments" - - - -

palo alto is like many other cities, filled with good people, tolerant people - people who believe in and have fought for civil rights. racial profiling doesn't take place here as a general rule. anyone who says it does, it flat out lying, or has a personal agenda that goes beyond civil rights - i.e. they're lying under cover of civil rights concerns to make other things happen. it's your loss if you believe that crapola. Instead of looking at the facts, you are making assumptions based on belief - a belief that is all too easy for certain miscreants and troublemakers to stir up. honestly, if there's a criminal act happening here, it's the one that's being perpetrated on the good people of palo alto and east palo alto, who have been whipped up into a frenzy over nothing.

Posted by Roy in Oregon
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 9, 2008 at 7:39 pm

Chief Johnson did not do anything wrong. The only thing she did, was encourage her officers to look for the Black kids who committed these crimes.

If the suspects were White, and she told them to look for Whites wearing certain clothing, would you be as upset........NO.

What is the next Chief going to do? Give criminals, regardless of their race, a free rein of the City. Look at the articles of crime listed in the article today, and you will see the "color" of the suspects.

How stupid to believe any Chief or any officer is going to want to work in a City/Community that tells the officers to ignore suspects because of their Race. That is what this idiot mayor is doing. I spent 37 yrs in police work, including at PAPD, and one of the first things a dispatcher will tell the officer, is the Sex, RACE, Clothing description, and Vehicle description, while you are responding to a call. How do you plan to change this mr Mayor. We (You) need a new mayor, not police Chief

Posted by Charles Bogle
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 9, 2008 at 7:40 pm

It would be nice if PAPD officers would stop blogging these comments. If you think racial profiling does not exist it is true whites are not racially profiled. If you are an African American try driving through old Palo Alto in a broken down 78 Chevy and see if you are aren't pulled over? Was Albert Hopkins racially profiled or just plain jacked up! How about African American Rick Walker who served 13 years on a 187 first degree murder charge in Pelican Bay? Did the DA and the police "forget" to disclose they had exculpatory evidence that they forgot to process? How about another apology? The problem with our system is that there are layers of absolute immunity for officers who violate the citizens rights under color of law but there is no recourse for those who suffer these injustices. Those who continually violate our civil rights are still working in the system to commit the same violations over and over again. Some are even promoted.

If Chief Johnson doesn't realize she is guilty of racial profiling and is not terminated then we only have ourselves to blame.

Posted by Have Friends in PA
a resident of Juana Briones School
on Nov 9, 2008 at 10:02 pm

I see. So, anyone who believes that the police chief did (and I saw and heard it come out of her mouth on the news broadcast) direct officers to use racial profiling against blacks and latinos is a "miscreant," or "criminal" or "troublemaker" or, (my personal favorite) "bigots." I see. I thought we were just African Americans concerned about having out civil rights violated as we attempt to travel in and around Palo Alto. Thanks for clearing that up for us. Oh, and by the way, its nice to have so many of you back from your apparent tour of Sarah Palin rallies in the deep South.

Posted by let it go
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 10, 2008 at 12:39 am

"I see", yuo don't "see". you are so blind with rage and bias that you can't see straight, just like people who ^^are^^ real bigots. you didn't hear what the chief said at that meeting, and if you did, you're not getting it right, because I was there too...and i'm a person of get off your high horse and stop following grandstanders who want to make a name for themselves. try on a new idea for a change

Posted by I see too
a resident of another community
on Nov 10, 2008 at 9:43 am

"i'm a person of color..." Why is it that anytime African Americans express concern about racism that we are accused of demonstrating "rage?" I think you might want to "try on a new idea for a change" yourself. That black rage thing is history. Unfortunately, the inability of others to understand the burden of racial stereotyping and profiling, isn't. Also, I am assuming that, although you are "of color," you're not African American, or else you'd have said so. Perspective is experiential. Eye of the beholder, baby.

Posted by An Eyewitness
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 10, 2008 at 9:45 am

To Charles Bogle:

I am not in any way affiliated with the PAPD and I have no reason to want to stand up for them, OTHER than to point out the TRUTH and the REAL FACTS in this particular case. You ought not jump to conclusions that everyone defending the PAPD on this blog has a self-serving interest in doing so. Chief Johnson ought NOT be hammered for somthing she did NOT do. Charles, I could have a gripe against the PAPD. The FIRST and ONLY traffic ticket I ever had in my 30+ year driving history, was given to me by a PA Police Officer with a BAD attitude. He wasn't even "cordial", as Chief Johnson instructs her officers to be. He was pompous, rude and he thoroughly enjoyed making me pay $350 and attend traffic school, all for making a left turn from ALMA to get to Stanford Electric on HIGH Street, at 4PM. This, while I go that way ALL the time, but I am rarely there between the hours of 3PM - 6PM, times when a left turn is prohibited, to keep residential streets motorist free. But I wasn't going down the residential street, I was going 1/2 block to a BUSINESS. I was looking for a place to park, there was a large SUV in front of me that almost made a left turn from Alma, and then went straight, presumably seeing the 5-6 cars that were being ticketed at this Police Trap/Fund Raiser location, all caught by the police, like salmon swimming upstream. It was getting dark and I was focused on the oncoming traffic. I just forgot that I couldn't make a left turn there, because I did it ALL the time. It's stupid, I know. But this is Palo Alto. Hardly anything makes sense here. I got over it. Chief Johnson did nothing wrong. Let's keep it all in perspective. There are robbers out there. For the few bad apples in the PAPD, there are tons of GOOD cops -- that's my belief.

Posted by let it go
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 10, 2008 at 3:14 pm

" Perspective is experiential. Eye of the beholder, baby."

uhuh! read your own words and try getting with a new program. anyone who first heard chief johnson speak was "listening" with their own preconceptions, including our mayor, who i thought was above being led around by the nose by grandstanders. where's the balanced leadership here, anyway? they call that leadership???? this is cheap shot politics, period! the "let's heat this up and sell more newsprint" local rag, and grandstanding opportunists, all under cover of "civil rights". pretty damed pathetic. we'd better look past the demagogues on both sides, and learn to calm things down instead of playing to crowds. looks like both the pa and epa mayor, and some others need to learn that lesson. in the meantime there are crimes to solve and social problems to resolve. mayors, get off your black and white horses and get busy!

Posted by Palo Alto Residant
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Nov 10, 2008 at 6:17 pm

Times truly have changed. Approximately 44 years ago Dr. King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. A century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt’s invitation of Booker T. Washington to dine at the White House was taken as an outrage in many quarters. America today is a world away from the cruel and prideful bigotry of that time. We as the American people have called for a new direction and the election of Mr. Obama, as the 44th President of the United States of America is a true testament of this move. In my onion there is no room for discriminatory remarks and in my opinion Palo Alto Police Chief Lynn Johnson is way out of context. As a white American person in my opinion her remarks and statement coming from someone who is a leader of an organization that people have given the highest integrity, objectivity, and fairness was outrageous, unconstitutional, and un-American. In my onion Chief Lynn Johnson needs to either hand her resignation or be fired.

Posted by Palo Alto Elderly
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Nov 10, 2008 at 6:18 pm

The problem is that last Thursday Chief Johnson made a public statement clearly indicating that she had ordered her officers to stop “all” African-Americans to find out who they are. Chief Johnson “NEVER” said anything about any “DOO RAGGS” until the next day when the public was outraged. Chief Johnson never apologized even the next day until she was talked to and forced by the members of the City Council, the City Manager, and the public scrutiny. Further more, Chief Johnson sated that people don’t have to talk to the police and they can walk away. If that is the case then the reasonable consensual contact does not exist when she ordered her department to contact “all” African Americans. If people have the right to walk away then the officers have no legal right to detain any African-American to find out who they are. So, this is a clear indication that Chief Johnson has no idea to take on difficult tasks. WChief Johnson needs to either resign or to be fired.

Posted by sue
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 10, 2008 at 6:27 pm

Palo Alto Residant,

What is a residant?

Just asking as a credibility check, Correct me if I am wrong but King never came to Palo Alto, why ? no need

Palo Altans have been very supportive of civil rights for Blacks for a long time, the demographics have changed dramatically but the attitudes have not.

At some point EPA has to pull itself up by its own boot straps and accept responsibility for the gang snake pit they have allowed to fester that is infecting other communities.

All this grandstanding and rhetoric is all very well but it does not change the facts on the ground.

Old people in Palo Alto are being beaten a robbed by people who are clearly gangsters.

Posted by An Eyewitness
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 10, 2008 at 7:01 pm

To Palo Alto Elderly:

I remember Chief Johnson mentioned the "doo rag" at that meeting. She specifically was talking about the suspects. It was right after the question that called all the controversy. She said something to the effect of, "The SUSPECTS have been described as...." and then elaborated on it. That's why nothing of what she said disturbed me.

Posted by tj
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 10, 2008 at 7:56 pm

This tread is being spammed with form letters from the likes of " residant"(sic) same spelling mistakes, same content,what a fraud, shake down artists are trying to prey on Palo Alto watch out

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