News

Black in Palo Alto: Longtime residents describe painful toll of everyday racism

Five residents cautiously hope Black Lives Matter movement could stir welcome change

From left, retired newspaper columnist Loretta Green and former Superior Court Judge LaDoris Cordell, recently recounted experiences they or their family members had of being detained and questioned by school or police authorities with this publication. Photos taken June 25-26 by Magali Gauthier.

They grew up in Palo Alto, or moved here in the 1960s and 1970s, attracted by the weather, the reputation of the schools or the opportunity to study or work at Stanford University.

These African Americans — longtime local residents and now senior citizens — stayed and built families and careers. But all have endured painful and repeated incidents of racial discrimination over decades in a city where the Black population has hovered between 2% and 3% for the past 50 years.

Cautiously hopeful that the growing Black Lives Matter movement could stir welcome change, five of these longtime residents agreed to share some of those experiences in recent interviews with this publication.

Over and over they recounted how they or their family members had been detained and questioned by school or police authorities — sometimes at gunpoint — while going about ordinary activities such as driving, pumping gas or walking downtown or in their own neighborhoods.

Lawyer Bill Green served on a police advisory commission established in Palo Alto during the 1970s after a white resident in the Crescent Park neighborhood called the police on a Black neighbor who'd been out for a stroll.

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"The police would stop people on the basis that someone looked like they didn't belong," Green said.

"We had a series of conversations to try to help people understand that a Black person in the community is not a cause for concern. If you see some behavior that's criminal, you can do something, but the mere presence of a Black person is not criminal."

Palo Alto residents Loretta and Bill Green have organized a series of conversations to help people understand that a Black person in the community is not a cause for concern. Courtesy Loretta Green.

And yet Green and his wife of 60 years, retired newspaper columnist Loretta Green, spoke of repeated incidents over decades of their four children being pulled aside and questioned by police while walking, bicycling, driving or socializing in their own Palo Alto neighborhood.

"Our boys especially were stopped all the time," Loretta Green said. "The first question was always, 'Get out of the car; where'd you steal the car?' They were even stopped in our neighborhood and asked for ID — many times. The (police) told them their rule was to stop people who look like they don't belong, so I guess we look like we don't belong."

One son — tasked with picking up his younger sister from her after-school program by bicycle — begged his parents to relieve him of the chore after being questioned multiple times by police about the bike he was towing for his sister.

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Another time, police called the Greens to suggest that their fifth-grade son had broken into the principal's office at 10:30 p.m. and stolen money when he was actually home in bed. The evidence was that his baseball glove — which a teacher had picked up on the playground and placed in the principal's office — had been found there.

Some years later their daughter, by then a student at the University of California, Berkeley, was walking to visit her mother at a downtown Palo Alto newspaper office when she was blocked by a police car and questioned about a homicide she knew nothing about.

The repeated, upsetting incidents take a corrosive psychological toll, the longtime residents said. Children come to fear and expect that police are not going to help or support them.

"Palo Alto is a nice town but it's a white town and people don't realize their biases," said Loretta Green who, before retiring in 2004, was an award-winning columnist for the San Jose Mercury News and the former Palo Alto Times and Peninsula Times Tribune. "We all have biases — I'm sure I have biases, too. For racial minorities it's very damaging because it's cumulative — it just piles up and piles up and then you wonder why somebody goes off. They're just sick of it and they do something crazy and get killed."

Longtime Palo Alto resident LaDoris Cordell relayed similar experiences.

As a young lawyer in the mid-1970s, Cordell was riding in a car with her then-husband and a friend when they were stopped by police at the corner of Middlefield and Willow roads. Cordell was ordered to stand against the wall of a grocery store at gunpoint while the vehicle was searched, she said.

"It was absolutely terrifying and thoroughly embarrassing," said Cordell, a retired judge and former dean at Stanford University who served on the Palo Alto City Council from 2003 to 2007.

"It wasn't just one cop — it was two or three with guns. Once I was allowed to turn around, I was told there'd been a robbery at Baskin-Robbins by three Black men on foot.

Retired Judge LaDoris Cordell said it's harder if you're Black and you live in a city that counts itself as being liberal because oftentimes people are in denial of everyday racism. Photo taken June 26 by Magali Gauthier.

"Here I was, female and in a car with two African American males — not on foot. I'm a lawyer; I went to Stanford Law School; I'm doing everything I'm supposed to do to be successful and move forward and at that time it didn't matter. All they saw were three Black people.

"I got no apology. I was just looked at as a criminal suspect. It really said to me, 'This is how you're seen first before they find out who you are.'"

Sara Boyd, a retired vice-principal at Menlo Atherton High School, and her husband, Harold, a retired Stanford administrator, raised two sons in the Palo Alto home where they still live.

"We had an extremely frightening experience when the police picked up one of our sons while he was stopped at a gas station in Los Altos," Boyd recalled. "He'd taken a karate class at Stanford and he had his sticks in the back of the car."

Their son was told karate sticks could be a lethal weapon. The officers asked him whether he would use the sticks to defend himself if someone tried to hurt him and, when he answered in the affirmative, they took him to jail, Boyd said.

"We'd never had any trouble with the police and suddenly we had to find a bail bondsman — it was very frightening but I wasn't going to go home without him."

The charges were later dropped.

Boyd said her husband, once stopped for a minor traffic infraction, was asked whether he was "going for a gun" when he reached toward the glove compartment to retrieve his vehicle registration.

"The police officer was so hostile to him," Boyd said. "The assumption is that all Black people carry guns, especially Black men. We don't have guns. We detest violence. That was irritating. Why was he talked to in such a hostile manner?"

'Palo Alto is a nice town but it's a white town and people don't realize their biases.'

-Loretta Green, retired newspaper columnist

Of the recently publicized killings of Black people at the hands of police, Boyd said: "I cringe because that could have been one of my sons. It isn't pleasant for us, but we do what we have to do to survive, and we try to do the right thing."

Retiree Michael Harrison grew up in Palo Alto — his grandfather first came here in the 1920s — and graduated from Palo Alto High School in 1968.

As a child in the late 1950s, he walked frequently from his grandparents' Crescent Park home to play at his cousins' house in Midtown.

"A group of guys at the corner of Channing and Newell were always there and they'd yell the N-word over and over every time I walked by," recalled Harrison, now retired after 28 years with the pharmaceutical company Alza.

Harrison said he would keep walking without responding.

"What were my options? I'm one Black kid and they're four or five white guys," he said. "I'd probably be the one who got in trouble if there were a fight so I just stayed to myself. But I remembered who they were and basically I did not befriend any of them throughout high school."

As a young lawyer, Cordell said she found a community of African American friends in East Palo Alto, where she launched her law practice, but chose to raise her two daughters in Palo Alto.

"I decided to stay here primarily because of the schools and I was not disappointed — my daughters got a very good education," she said. "But I saw things here in this community.

"What was consistent was how kids of color, particularly Black kids, were treated, mostly at the high schools. Black kids were getting suspended or disciplined at disproportionate rates given how small their population was. I'd get calls — sometimes from parents, sometimes from teachers — who saw this and were concerned. It was all part of the systemic racism issue."

In 1982 Cordell was appointed to the Santa Clara County Municipal Court by then-Gov. Jerry Brown. Six years later, she won the election for Superior Court, where she served until leaving to become vice provost at Stanford in 2001.

When people began discussing racial profiling in the 1980s or 1990s, "there was all this pushback," she said. "Now we know it happens. It's harder if you're Black and you live in a city that counts itself as being liberal, mostly white, where people don't get it, or are in denial or don't understand."

Cordell said she "should be jaded by now" but remains "ever hopeful," particularly encouraged by the youthful organizers of the current protests. She also has recently found joy in a surprising racially integrated venue in Palo Alto — the pickleball courts at Mitchell Park.

Multiple pairs of people play pickleball at Mitchell Park in Palo Alto on May 6. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Boyd said she feels uplifted by the Black Lives Matter signs she notices in the yards of some of her neighbors while out for her afternoon walks.

"It's really consoling and comforting to me to know that our neighbors are finally aware about police brutality in this country," she said. "When people put a sign in their yard, we feel like they have empathy for the Black people in America."

Loretta Green credited people with cellphones for photographing and documenting racist incidents that, in previous times, would not have been believed.

"Thank goodness for cellphones," she said. "I'm hoping that will make a difference, because all of this has been going on for a long time," she said.

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Black in Palo Alto: Longtime residents describe painful toll of everyday racism

Five residents cautiously hope Black Lives Matter movement could stir welcome change

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Fri, Jul 3, 2020, 6:58 am

They grew up in Palo Alto, or moved here in the 1960s and 1970s, attracted by the weather, the reputation of the schools or the opportunity to study or work at Stanford University.

These African Americans — longtime local residents and now senior citizens — stayed and built families and careers. But all have endured painful and repeated incidents of racial discrimination over decades in a city where the Black population has hovered between 2% and 3% for the past 50 years.

Cautiously hopeful that the growing Black Lives Matter movement could stir welcome change, five of these longtime residents agreed to share some of those experiences in recent interviews with this publication.

Over and over they recounted how they or their family members had been detained and questioned by school or police authorities — sometimes at gunpoint — while going about ordinary activities such as driving, pumping gas or walking downtown or in their own neighborhoods.

Lawyer Bill Green served on a police advisory commission established in Palo Alto during the 1970s after a white resident in the Crescent Park neighborhood called the police on a Black neighbor who'd been out for a stroll.

"The police would stop people on the basis that someone looked like they didn't belong," Green said.

"We had a series of conversations to try to help people understand that a Black person in the community is not a cause for concern. If you see some behavior that's criminal, you can do something, but the mere presence of a Black person is not criminal."

And yet Green and his wife of 60 years, retired newspaper columnist Loretta Green, spoke of repeated incidents over decades of their four children being pulled aside and questioned by police while walking, bicycling, driving or socializing in their own Palo Alto neighborhood.

"Our boys especially were stopped all the time," Loretta Green said. "The first question was always, 'Get out of the car; where'd you steal the car?' They were even stopped in our neighborhood and asked for ID — many times. The (police) told them their rule was to stop people who look like they don't belong, so I guess we look like we don't belong."

One son — tasked with picking up his younger sister from her after-school program by bicycle — begged his parents to relieve him of the chore after being questioned multiple times by police about the bike he was towing for his sister.

Another time, police called the Greens to suggest that their fifth-grade son had broken into the principal's office at 10:30 p.m. and stolen money when he was actually home in bed. The evidence was that his baseball glove — which a teacher had picked up on the playground and placed in the principal's office — had been found there.

Some years later their daughter, by then a student at the University of California, Berkeley, was walking to visit her mother at a downtown Palo Alto newspaper office when she was blocked by a police car and questioned about a homicide she knew nothing about.

The repeated, upsetting incidents take a corrosive psychological toll, the longtime residents said. Children come to fear and expect that police are not going to help or support them.

"Palo Alto is a nice town but it's a white town and people don't realize their biases," said Loretta Green who, before retiring in 2004, was an award-winning columnist for the San Jose Mercury News and the former Palo Alto Times and Peninsula Times Tribune. "We all have biases — I'm sure I have biases, too. For racial minorities it's very damaging because it's cumulative — it just piles up and piles up and then you wonder why somebody goes off. They're just sick of it and they do something crazy and get killed."

Longtime Palo Alto resident LaDoris Cordell relayed similar experiences.

As a young lawyer in the mid-1970s, Cordell was riding in a car with her then-husband and a friend when they were stopped by police at the corner of Middlefield and Willow roads. Cordell was ordered to stand against the wall of a grocery store at gunpoint while the vehicle was searched, she said.

"It was absolutely terrifying and thoroughly embarrassing," said Cordell, a retired judge and former dean at Stanford University who served on the Palo Alto City Council from 2003 to 2007.

"It wasn't just one cop — it was two or three with guns. Once I was allowed to turn around, I was told there'd been a robbery at Baskin-Robbins by three Black men on foot.

"Here I was, female and in a car with two African American males — not on foot. I'm a lawyer; I went to Stanford Law School; I'm doing everything I'm supposed to do to be successful and move forward and at that time it didn't matter. All they saw were three Black people.

"I got no apology. I was just looked at as a criminal suspect. It really said to me, 'This is how you're seen first before they find out who you are.'"

Sara Boyd, a retired vice-principal at Menlo Atherton High School, and her husband, Harold, a retired Stanford administrator, raised two sons in the Palo Alto home where they still live.

"We had an extremely frightening experience when the police picked up one of our sons while he was stopped at a gas station in Los Altos," Boyd recalled. "He'd taken a karate class at Stanford and he had his sticks in the back of the car."

Their son was told karate sticks could be a lethal weapon. The officers asked him whether he would use the sticks to defend himself if someone tried to hurt him and, when he answered in the affirmative, they took him to jail, Boyd said.

"We'd never had any trouble with the police and suddenly we had to find a bail bondsman — it was very frightening but I wasn't going to go home without him."

The charges were later dropped.

Boyd said her husband, once stopped for a minor traffic infraction, was asked whether he was "going for a gun" when he reached toward the glove compartment to retrieve his vehicle registration.

"The police officer was so hostile to him," Boyd said. "The assumption is that all Black people carry guns, especially Black men. We don't have guns. We detest violence. That was irritating. Why was he talked to in such a hostile manner?"

Of the recently publicized killings of Black people at the hands of police, Boyd said: "I cringe because that could have been one of my sons. It isn't pleasant for us, but we do what we have to do to survive, and we try to do the right thing."

Retiree Michael Harrison grew up in Palo Alto — his grandfather first came here in the 1920s — and graduated from Palo Alto High School in 1968.

As a child in the late 1950s, he walked frequently from his grandparents' Crescent Park home to play at his cousins' house in Midtown.

"A group of guys at the corner of Channing and Newell were always there and they'd yell the N-word over and over every time I walked by," recalled Harrison, now retired after 28 years with the pharmaceutical company Alza.

Harrison said he would keep walking without responding.

"What were my options? I'm one Black kid and they're four or five white guys," he said. "I'd probably be the one who got in trouble if there were a fight so I just stayed to myself. But I remembered who they were and basically I did not befriend any of them throughout high school."

As a young lawyer, Cordell said she found a community of African American friends in East Palo Alto, where she launched her law practice, but chose to raise her two daughters in Palo Alto.

"I decided to stay here primarily because of the schools and I was not disappointed — my daughters got a very good education," she said. "But I saw things here in this community.

"What was consistent was how kids of color, particularly Black kids, were treated, mostly at the high schools. Black kids were getting suspended or disciplined at disproportionate rates given how small their population was. I'd get calls — sometimes from parents, sometimes from teachers — who saw this and were concerned. It was all part of the systemic racism issue."

In 1982 Cordell was appointed to the Santa Clara County Municipal Court by then-Gov. Jerry Brown. Six years later, she won the election for Superior Court, where she served until leaving to become vice provost at Stanford in 2001.

When people began discussing racial profiling in the 1980s or 1990s, "there was all this pushback," she said. "Now we know it happens. It's harder if you're Black and you live in a city that counts itself as being liberal, mostly white, where people don't get it, or are in denial or don't understand."

Cordell said she "should be jaded by now" but remains "ever hopeful," particularly encouraged by the youthful organizers of the current protests. She also has recently found joy in a surprising racially integrated venue in Palo Alto — the pickleball courts at Mitchell Park.

Boyd said she feels uplifted by the Black Lives Matter signs she notices in the yards of some of her neighbors while out for her afternoon walks.

"It's really consoling and comforting to me to know that our neighbors are finally aware about police brutality in this country," she said. "When people put a sign in their yard, we feel like they have empathy for the Black people in America."

Loretta Green credited people with cellphones for photographing and documenting racist incidents that, in previous times, would not have been believed.

"Thank goodness for cellphones," she said. "I'm hoping that will make a difference, because all of this has been going on for a long time," she said.

Comments

Action Together
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 3, 2020 at 7:17 am
Action Together, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 3, 2020 at 7:17 am
43 people like this

We Palo Altans must accept these hard truths in our community’s history and commit to ending its and our racism. We start on this by taking thoughtful specific action now.

Let’s support substantial reform of Palo Alto policing - it badly needs it. Our city council has committed to it. Insist it carries through and that the City Manager and Police Union doesn’t sabotage its effort.

We need to strengthen, not weaken as was done last year, the oversight of our Independent Police Auditor who reviews investigations and complaints. There must be hard deadlines for his audit reports release to the council and public. End the years long delays by the Police Chief and City Attorney. .

Officers with records of misconduct must go, which means ending binding arbitration.

Abide by state law that mandates timely release of records including video and audio to the public. Nearly 2.5 years after Sgt Benitez slammed the head of a handcuffed Latino man into a windshield and the lawsuit settling last year, most video and audio has not been released and the case has not been given to our Independent Police Auditor for review.

Were the Officers that engaged in a cover-up for Sgt. Benitez (not even Chief Jonsen says he knew it happened for over a year) ever held accountable for not reporting the excessive use of force per policy?

Action not talk or denial will start to end ours and our towns racism.


JimCrowInLosAltos
Los Altos
on Jul 3, 2020 at 7:38 am
JimCrowInLosAltos, Los Altos
on Jul 3, 2020 at 7:38 am
15 people like this

The experiences recounted by black residents of Palo Alto in this article should shock one's conscience and stir them to act to correct the abuses by (none other than) servants of the public (PD, etc.)

Would Chris Kenrick/Palo Alto Weekly and locals be interested in learning about how Jim Crow is alive and well in Los Altos? Evidence for that as recent and current (2013-2020)? where the City enforces its Municipal Code differently for whites than for the non-whites? where whites are granted privileges, including the right to violate the Municipal Code, Fire Code, etc? where non-whites are required to "strict compliance with the Codes" and even asked to comply with extraordinary requirements NOT in the code "or else..."? and the City's entire apparatus (City staff from the City Manager and PD Chief on down to the lower echelons) would act in concert to protect the whites, target the non-whites, violate the laws, lie to the Courts in their retaliation, intimidation, obstruction of justice?

All this happening not in the distant past but today.
Detailed in two pending lawsuits in Federal Court.
Defendants include the City of Los Altos, senior City staff, etc.
Allegations include RICO and Conspiracy violations (for the City, PD, white homeowners and their attorneys acted in concert, not any differently than the Mafia).

All of that timely, relevant, and significant and goes to show these violations by those meant to "protect and serve" the public are more extensive and troubling than what we are now coming to know.


Pete
Downtown North
on Jul 3, 2020 at 9:07 am
Pete, Downtown North
on Jul 3, 2020 at 9:07 am
12 people like this

The unlawful discriminatory acts committed by police are not bias and therefore we should stop calling it bias. It is prejudice. I was once informed by a former Palo Alto Police lieutenant that they deliberately target older in poorer looking cars because those are the people who will have outstanding warrants. This lieutenant also told me that police officers are the best Liars in the world because they lie the most. This former Lieutenant with the PAPD is black and a woman.
I know many people including myself that have been discriminated against by all colors of this community based upon one characteristic and that characteristic is being poor. It is called bigotry and it is color blind.


Reform
Crescent Park
on Jul 3, 2020 at 9:12 am
Reform, Crescent Park
on Jul 3, 2020 at 9:12 am
15 people like this

>Let’s support substantial reform of Palo Alto policing
Yes, I agree.
The issue is also bigger: PAPD is an arm of the City's apparatus.
We should expect--and evidence confirms--what affects the arm is also present in other arms of the City's apparatus: City Hall (see related article re some Palo Alto neighborhoods less privileged than others), enforcement of the Code and laws, etc.
Substantial reform is needed in Palo Alto's policing and in City administration (which manages the policing) and City governance (which oversees the administration).
Ditto for other cities: Los Altos, Menlo Park, RWC, etc.


Facts
Crescent Park
on Jul 3, 2020 at 9:17 am
Facts, Crescent Park
on Jul 3, 2020 at 9:17 am
19 people like this

>discriminated against by all colors of this community based upon one characteristic
>and that characteristic is being poor.

Nonsense. The lawsuits in Los Altos show the discrimination is NOT based on poverty but nothing other than skin color. Judge LaCordell (cited in the other article) was discriminated against. She doesn't qualify as "poor". She certainly qualifies as "black". Enough said.



Facts
Crescent Park
on Jul 3, 2020 at 9:19 am
Facts, Crescent Park
on Jul 3, 2020 at 9:19 am
9 people like this

>Judge LaCordell

My apologies for my mistake.
It should read Judge Cordell. Judge LaDoris Cordell.

The rest of my comment stands.


Pete
Downtown North
on Jul 3, 2020 at 10:18 am
Pete, Downtown North
on Jul 3, 2020 at 10:18 am
14 people like this

@Facts. Most cops believe most minorities are poor.


What Will They Do Next
Old Palo Alto
on Jul 3, 2020 at 11:03 am
What Will They Do Next, Old Palo Alto
on Jul 3, 2020 at 11:03 am
24 people like this

Let's not forget that many Asians experience the same type of racism, even today. While not necessarily being stopped by police for looking like they don't "belong" in the neighborhood, there are very subtle and sometimes overt gestures and comments toward Asian Americans by white, black and brown people. We've lived here for 44 years and have experienced it first hand. My wife is San Francisco born Asian.


Racism in our schools
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 3, 2020 at 11:22 am
Racism in our schools, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 3, 2020 at 11:22 am
5 people like this

Sadly, racism has seeped into our schools as well.

I'm an old fart, but I was absolutely shocked to hear a recent discussion between Paly kids that use of the N-word is rampant in our schools. We have rid ourselves of divisive LBGTQ and most racial slurs, but sadly we can't seem to shake this one. In fact, sometimes the use of this word occurs within earshot of teachers and there are no ramifications.

I hope we can do better.


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on Jul 3, 2020 at 12:02 pm
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on Jul 3, 2020 at 12:02 pm
16 people like this

Love it. Thank you, Chris Kenrick. I’m for renaming Cubberley for Bill Green, the Olympian, left us too soon. God bless. Black Lives Matter.


Facts
Crescent Park
on Jul 3, 2020 at 1:22 pm
Facts, Crescent Park
on Jul 3, 2020 at 1:22 pm
3 people like this

"Let's not forget that many Asians experience the same type of racism, even today...there are very subtle and sometimes overt gestures and comments toward Asian Americans...We've lived here for 44 years and have experienced it first hand."

Yes,
The lawsuits vs Los Altos concern racism and discrimination by agents and agencies of that City toward Asians. A review of the complaints filed in Federal Court would reveal how the City discriminated against Asians. Every one of those part of this discrimination and racism were white. Oh, yes, if there were more blacks in Los Altos they too would not have been spared any.

Simply put the violations encompassed: housing, civil rights, Constitutional rights, etc.
Read up on them and find for yourself how Jim Crow is alive and well in Los Altos (and possibly in your City too). Help call to account those involved before they affect you or someone you know.


Frank
Charleston Gardens
on Jul 3, 2020 at 1:38 pm
Frank, Charleston Gardens
on Jul 3, 2020 at 1:38 pm
3 people like this

[Post removed.]


Facts
Crescent Park
on Jul 3, 2020 at 2:09 pm
Facts, Crescent Park
on Jul 3, 2020 at 2:09 pm
11 people like this

"More than half of serious crimes in Palo Alto are committed by non local black and Hispanic males ages 16-30."

Let's say I don't dispute that.
To make it simpler let's assume the "more than half" is 70%.
The remaining 30% are whites, right?

What I'd like you to also state and acknowledge is what you are NOT stating and acknowledging. Namely:
a) what about crimes committed by those that are in the 16-30 age group but not Latino or black? namely, those by whites?
b) why do the police not talk to them or cite or arrest them consistent with their 30% proportion? in other words, why are black and latinos disproportionately more (e.g., 90%+ on the records) whereas whites are disproportionately less (<10%)?

Why are violations of the law (criminal or civil) by whites (employees/agents of the City, whether PD or City Hall) whitewashed by their brethren (also white and employees/agents of the City)? And if they are indeed held any accountable (at great cost and with significant effort; witness the lawsuits vs Palo Alto and Los Altos) it is us the taxpayers that foot the bill. Whereas those same agents of the City can accost, target, arrest, cite non-whites who have to pay for their costs out of their own pocket to defend themselves.
It's time for this asymmetry to get corrected, time to tighten up and/or eliminate the immunity provided public servants for their abuses and misconduct, time to hold them accountable--PERSONALLY, if possible--for their abuses. Time to hold them accountable and responsible for malpractice just as we hold doctors.
Hell, if a doctor did what a cop did to injure someone they would be paying huge costs out of their pocket and their license would be revoked. A cop however would not even be investigated; if investigated, the complaint would be dismissed by his brethren in uniform; he could move to another PD in another City and nobody would know; worst case, any penalties would be paid by the public...and the cop (and/or public servant) gets life time benefits and pension.
What is wrong in this picture?


RottenAtTheTop
Downtown North
on Jul 3, 2020 at 4:17 pm
RottenAtTheTop, Downtown North
on Jul 3, 2020 at 4:17 pm
6 people like this

Asked what is his understanding of "white privilege" the City Manager for Los Altos responded: "it is when poor whites are denied what rich whites get." You can't make this up!

Is it any surprise then that he is an individual defendant (along with others that reported to him) and his actions in ratifying and approving unlawful conduct resulted in the City of Los Altos also being a defendant?

To make things worse: he was run out of town at his previous job (as City Manager of West Linn, OR) owing to his inability to take direction from those that oversaw him i.e.,Council members that were the elected representatives of the people. Apparently he believed he was Lord Emperor and Sovereign, with no accountability to anyone. Little wonder then that racism, discrimination, unequal treatment of people (with whites privileged and the rest not) flourished and was endemic in Los Altos. Not without the support of complicit (white) Council members, some no longer on Council, one recently in the news for her racist comments to another and soon to be termed out.


Hillary
University South
on Jul 3, 2020 at 4:44 pm
Hillary, University South
on Jul 3, 2020 at 4:44 pm
18 people like this

Thank you for writing this article, Chris. If you'd like to hear more from other Black families who raised kids in Palo Alto (for over 20 years), please let me know. Also, would you be up for writing an article that offers facts about our Police Department (rather than the numbers people write in comments without sources) and information on when public meetings about police re-structuring happen?


Christina Kenrick
Old Palo Alto
on Jul 3, 2020 at 5:01 pm
Christina Kenrick, Old Palo Alto
on Jul 3, 2020 at 5:01 pm
6 people like this

Yes, thank you, Hillary. I would be interested in hearing from you. Please contact me at [email protected] Chris


Andy Thomson
Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 3, 2020 at 10:58 pm
Andy Thomson, Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 3, 2020 at 10:58 pm
15 people like this

Why do crime reports never publish the race of suspects anymore? Is this a politically correct thing now?


Resident
Midtown
on Jul 4, 2020 at 5:32 am
Resident, Midtown
on Jul 4, 2020 at 5:32 am
10 people like this

[Post removed.]


Judy Loch
Charleston Meadows
on Jul 4, 2020 at 9:57 am
Judy Loch, Charleston Meadows
on Jul 4, 2020 at 9:57 am
Like this comment

Thank you Chris for this important article. I have forwarded to my daughter. She is an art curator in Oakland and has been actively leading an effort to bring attention to injustice to people of color. It is sad that it also happens in Palo Alto, supposedly a liberal and educated city.
From your longtime fan at Stevenson House.
Judy


Another Black Palo Alto Resident
Ventura
on Jul 4, 2020 at 12:04 pm
Another Black Palo Alto Resident, Ventura
on Jul 4, 2020 at 12:04 pm
26 people like this

The conversation in these comments has moved away from the intention of the article, sharing the experiences of Black and African-American residents of Palo Alto to the problems of Los Altos, Asians, the police etc. This moving away from the topic is another aspect of the problem. Will anyone speak up with empathy towards these residents?

As an African-American and twenty year Palo Alto resident, I emphasized with everything they shared. My eldest son was called the "N" word at JLS Middle School. Both my sons have been stopped by police. Once for having air freshener hanging from the rearview (that can obscure vision) and another time for having the light over the license plate out (It magically started working again). My younger son was stopped on his way home from work at Safeway in Menlo Park, laid in the street, boot on his neck, under suspicion of assault. The suspect was described as a black male 10 years younger than my son was at the time with an afro wearing red shorts. My son has close shaven hair and was wearing long black pants and a white shirt. They called Safeway and confirmed his presence at work during the time of the incident. Safeway fired him the next day. I've been stopped myself and searched while shopping at Stanford Mall, actually while eating at McDonald's, I was asked to step outside and explain where I had obtained the sweater I was carrying. Lucky for me it had a Bullocks label in it. These incidents do take a toll and what's even more concerning is the way they build up to inform future behavior. I will never wear a hoody in Palo Alto. When my son's car needed a repair before he could renew his registration, we traded cars. I still got stopped but I am viewed as less threatening and less likely to have a bad outcome than my son. I won't put my hands in my pockets while shopping. For ten years after I moved here I didn't shop in Los Altos for fear that I would be followed and harassed. I don't dare live freely or speak my mind as fully as my white friends because that would be viewed as threatening or upsetting to White people.

I am happy to share my experiences. I can't speak for all Black people. If you want to know me, ask about me as an individual.


Criminal police in pal alto
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 4, 2020 at 12:23 pm
Criminal police in pal alto, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 4, 2020 at 12:23 pm
5 people like this

Remember this back in 2008 when the chief of police admitted that she instructed her officers to stop black people

Web Link

How about the time when aram James was speaking to the council and the two old white men, Jim birch and Jack Morton called the police?


Nexus
Crescent Park
on Jul 4, 2020 at 4:45 pm
Nexus, Crescent Park
on Jul 4, 2020 at 4:45 pm
6 people like this

"The conversation ...moved away from the intention of the article, sharing the experiences of Black and African-American residents of Palo Alto to the problems of Los Altos, Asians, the police etc. This moving away from the topic is another aspect of the problem. Will anyone speak up with empathy towards these residents?"

I am simply outraged at what I learned from the article re the experiences of Black and African-American residents of Palo Alto. And, from the comments I sense we will see more of the stories come out.

I also want to add I found the comments re Los Altos and Asians also troubling and deeply concerning. Why? For the simple reason that what's common in these situations--whether Palo Alto or Los Altos, Black/African-American or Asian--the perpetrators are the same: none other than agencies and individuals acting under the color of law and authority. All white.

I lend complete and unilateral support for holding these perpetrators accountable. Insuring Black and African Americans do not experience again what they have been put through is the right thing to do. It also will insure society at large would no longer condone or find acceptable or tolerable what it has for all these years and produce improvements that benefit ALL of us. The only ones that won't like it are the bad actors (and their enablers)...and the sooner we take power away from them, the better for ALL of us.


Rose
Mayfield
on Jul 4, 2020 at 8:20 pm
Rose, Mayfield
on Jul 4, 2020 at 8:20 pm
6 people like this

Thank you for sharing your stories. Your experiences help us understand more clearly how even your ordinary daily lives have been profoundly damaged. I believe we can open our hearts, be more aware, reach out and connect, and make change happen. I want to be part of the change. We will change.


Fairmeadow
Midtown
on Jul 5, 2020 at 2:12 am
Fairmeadow, Midtown
on Jul 5, 2020 at 2:12 am
6 people like this

This article implies the logical fallacy that the personal experiences of individuals can be generalized to the systematic treatment of an entire race. Please accept these personal experiences for what they are.


BeNotAnOstrich
Community Center
on Jul 5, 2020 at 6:26 am
BeNotAnOstrich, Community Center
on Jul 5, 2020 at 6:26 am
14 people like this

"logical fallacy that the personal experiences of individuals can be generalized to the systematic treatment of an entire race"

I'd like to know the School of Logic you graduated from to educate us about logical fallacies. I'm prompted to speak to the Dean there about their obvious failures in educating their wards.

It is fairly simple.
Members of Group W are spared the ignominies, insults,humiliations visited upon those not members of that group and especially on members of Group B.
Occasionally members of W experience what is the norm for members of B (and those not in W).
Occasionally members of B (and those not in W) experience what is the norm for members of W.

Call W and B and those not in W what you want.
The only difference between them is none other than skin color.
Not sex, not gender, not age, not height, etc. Nothing but skin color.

Simply put this is nothing but racism and discrimination and unequal treatment under law, under color of authority. Systemic (systematic, if you prefer that word), enduring, consistent, UNLAWFUL, and UNHEALTHY for this society.

Those that want to keep their heads stuck in the sand--and pretend it is not systemic--can continue their ways. After all it is owing to that these invidious practices have continued for as long as they have despite the law. The good news is: more have become aware of, and incensed with, these practices and accept them for what they are and demand reform and change.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 5, 2020 at 11:06 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 5, 2020 at 11:06 am
8 people like this

Posted by Fairmeadow, a resident of Midtown

>> This article implies the logical fallacy that the personal experiences of individuals can be generalized to the systematic treatment of an entire race. Please accept these personal experiences for what they are.

No it doesn't. You can read scholarly journal articles with statistics regarding the "systematic treatment of an entire race" (whatever race is) any time you want. You can also read the -history- of racism as well, and there have been a lot of postings about this recently.

But, many people find history and statistics difficult to grok. The article gives anecdotal evidence that, as it happens, is in line with the statistics.

I think that it is highly probable that, since you reject scholarly evidence, historical accounts, and anecdotes, that nothing will change your mind.


Steve
Crescent Park
on Jul 5, 2020 at 2:45 pm
Steve, Crescent Park
on Jul 5, 2020 at 2:45 pm
18 people like this

I remember growing up there in the 70's and as a white kid, you did not cross the bridge over 101...especially after dark. Is there racism in our world, sadly yes, the one thing humanity excels at is doing horrible things to each other....racism is not just limited to white on black but all colors to all colors, we can all do better but to ignore that and just focus on one specific color diminishes the hurt being done to all.


Freddie Allen Tilford
Charleston Meadows
on Jul 5, 2020 at 3:11 pm
Freddie Allen Tilford, Charleston Meadows
on Jul 5, 2020 at 3:11 pm
9 people like this

I also lived in Palo Alto 1980s and remember how a single black Stanford Law Graduate was unable to buy a house in Palo Alto. She was also was discriminated against when she gave up her Hope's of law and became a financial adviser in the stockmarket. Passed over time after time or a guy who sold healthcare but was used by the industry but never equally compacted equally to other brokers.
I am so glad to no longer live in Palo Alto.


Chris C
Greenmeadow
on Jul 5, 2020 at 3:18 pm
Chris C, Greenmeadow
on Jul 5, 2020 at 3:18 pm
18 people like this

I grew up in Palo Alto and am a good friend of the Green family and can 100% attest to everything in this article. Being stopped by the police, stopped leaving stores, etc was so common my brothers and I just thought that was normal and that’s how all kids were treated. Fortunately our parents educated us that that absolutely was not how it’s supposed to be and made sure we let them know whenever it happened. Luckily for us our parents went to battle for us every time it happened. Sadly not a lot has changed in PA, as I was just pulled over because I have a nice car now and the officer just “wanted to let me know a lot of nice cars had been stolen lately”...after running my license and plates first, of course!


Why me
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 5, 2020 at 4:01 pm
Why me, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 5, 2020 at 4:01 pm
9 people like this

In 40 years, I have called the police 2x because I was afraid, living alone and there were weird noises. And this white woman (me) was treated with courtesy and problem solving comments.
Long ago I took the citizens police academy. When the "academy" was over, I was more frightened of the police than before I started. It felt as if there was an undercurrent to what we were being taught - a strange "polish" to the how's and why of what it entailed being a cop. Answered to questions seemed more boilerplate than genuine. And the finishing touch was a computer generated exercise where the scenario was established. No matter how I answered the question, each slide led to greater instigation of the police behavior. At the end, the officer controlling the slide ended with the police storming the door. To be fair the "victim" was a white woman, but the easiest and quickest way to resolve was not to deal with the "victim" but to get it over with. I always wonder what would have happened if the "victim" was black. On my ride around with an officer, he seemed to slow down, every time there was a black person walking alone or young men in a group and then we drove on..... no answer to the question why he slowed down. With all that is going on today, I really hope that the police recognize they can no longer have unquestioned behavior and they stop costing the city thousands $$$ to settle cases. Maybe the. police need an anomoyus phone line when they see their fellow officers/ senior officers doing the wrong thing, but can't speak up for fear of losing their job.


Anonymous
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 5, 2020 at 4:20 pm
Anonymous, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 5, 2020 at 4:20 pm
16 people like this

Lived here > 1/2 my life. Never heard N word. Would NEVER have tolerated it if I had.
Loretta Green, so sorry to hear of your family’s experiences.
Ms. Green was a fine journalist I remember reading for tears after moving out here!
OTOH I have been subject to racism from Chinese. Fact.


Ampersand
Crescent Park
on Jul 6, 2020 at 4:03 pm
Ampersand, Crescent Park
on Jul 6, 2020 at 4:03 pm
4 people like this

[Post removed.]


Jennifer
another community
on Jul 8, 2020 at 8:00 am
Jennifer, another community
on Jul 8, 2020 at 8:00 am
9 people like this

I grew up in Palo Alto. We ALL get profiled by the police. They deal with the criminal element. I was profiled several months ago in a nice suburb (not Palo Alto). I was turning left onto a main street, and a police officer was in the outer lane. I was trying to let him in (common courtesy) and he got in front of me. He then pulled over (in front of an LDS church) and got right behind me. I don't know if he was running me for warrants or he thought I was drunk. I pulled into a church about 3/4 of a mile down (I was visiting a friend's church) and he pulled in behind me to make sure I was going to church. This was at 9 a.m. on a Sunday morning. I'm a middle aged white woman driving a nice vehicle. This is what police officers do for a living. They have to be cynical. They're not librarians.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 8, 2020 at 2:35 pm
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 8, 2020 at 2:35 pm
4 people like this

Posted by Jennifer, a resident of another community

>> I'm a middle aged white woman driving a nice vehicle. This is what police officers do for a living. They have to be cynical. They're not librarians.

So, you believe that as long as it is race-blind (you are white) and class-blind (you drive a nice vehicle) then is is OK for police to bully, harass and intimidate, because "it is what police officers do"? Do I have that right?

As a taxpayer, I hope you don't mind my saying this, but, I disagree with you 100%. We taxpayers are paying them a lot of money. We expect them to issue citations (infractions and misdemeanors) and stop/arrest people committing serious crimes. Unfortunately, we also are paying them to interact with the mentally ill (we really need to fix this part).

Well, *you* may be happy to pay them to waste their time, and, intimidate you. I'm not willing to pay them to harass and intimidate either you or me. IF we have so many officers on the street that they have time to bully random people, then, we need a layoff, since obviously we have too many. We don't of course-- every day of the week, I see people seriously speeding and running stop signs in residential areas. They should be citing those people, not wasting their time tailing random people like you.


Tiger Mom
Midtown
on Jul 8, 2020 at 2:48 pm
Tiger Mom, Midtown
on Jul 8, 2020 at 2:48 pm
6 people like this

How did anything Jennifer wrote suggest that she was bullied, harassed, or intimidated?

It IS the police's job to investigate suspicious activity, question people, and patrol to know what's going on in the community. What in the world do you think we're paying them to do?


Facts
Crescent Park
on Jul 8, 2020 at 3:17 pm
Facts, Crescent Park
on Jul 8, 2020 at 3:17 pm
9 people like this

"How did anything Jennifer wrote suggest that she was bullied, harassed, or intimidated?"

I suppose you meant "WHERE did..."?
Well, nowhere did Jennifer suggest that. However that's not the point. After all the comment by Anon did not claim she did. Instead it inquires "if it (sic) is OK for police to bully, harass and intimidate" and whether such interpretation of Jennifer's statement is right?

"It IS the police's job to investigate suspicious activity, question people, and patrol to know what's going on in the community."

Certainly it indeed IS. However it is NOT their job to do a lot of the other things they clearly are doing: profiling, treating people unequally, shooting some merely based on skin color, etc.

"What in the world do you think we're paying them to do?"
To serve and to protect, no less.
Not to bully, intimidate, harass, whitewash whites and target the non-whites. And if "Tiger Mom" is by chance Asian, it is a matter of time before she experiences what others not white have experienced.




Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 8, 2020 at 3:31 pm
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 8, 2020 at 3:31 pm
2 people like this

Posted by Tiger Mom, a resident of Midtown

>> How did anything Jennifer wrote suggest that she was bullied, harassed, or intimidated?

If she didn't feel harassed or intimidated, then, what was the point of her "They're not librarians" posting?

>> It IS the police's job to investigate suspicious activity, question people, and patrol to know what's going on in the community. What in the world do you think we're paying them to do?

On the face of it, driving to church on Sunday morning is not suspicious activity. What do I think we're paying them to do? "Protect and serve."


Jennifer
another community
on Jul 8, 2020 at 4:13 pm
Jennifer, another community
on Jul 8, 2020 at 4:13 pm
8 people like this

A police officer has every right to do what he did, thinking I might not want a police officer behind me because I'm drunk or have warrants. My "they're not librarians" is an analogy -- from professions on the opposite end of the spectrum. I did not feel bullied, intimidated or harassed. I want officers who are suspicious. I was tempted to invite him into my friend's church (or my own) but I decided to leave well enough alone. I'm glad it happened. It made me realize In God We Trust, everyone else is under suspicion if an officer is on duty. And that's the way it should be. Get the criminals off the streets, and a lot of us support the police.

I now know that letting another driver in is common courtesy. With a police office it will seem suspicious (depending on the officer) and that's okay.


Facts
Crescent Park
on Jul 8, 2020 at 4:14 pm
Facts, Crescent Park
on Jul 8, 2020 at 4:14 pm
11 people like this

"I'm a middle aged white woman driving a nice vehicle. This is what police officers do for a living. They have to be cynical. They're not librarians."

Sure, the police have to cynical.
Sure, they are not librarians.
However those are irrelevant to the article and comments above.

Jennifer reports at length about how the PD followed her.
However that is NOT the norm for others that are white (women or men).
That IS the norm for most non-whites, especially Blacks.
The question is: why is that so? if attributed to "cynicism", how come the cynicism is directed to only those that are not white? especially directed toward Blacks? to the point of fabricating police reports, manufacturing false allegations, putting knees to necks, applying chokeholds, ignoring pleas about inability to breathe, etc.?

I doubt if that were to happen to Jennifer she'd attribute it to cynicism and excuse them because the police officer was not a librarian. And I doubt a Tiger Mom, if it were to happen to her, would leap to Jennifer's defense.


Jennifer
another community
on Jul 8, 2020 at 5:08 pm
Jennifer, another community
on Jul 8, 2020 at 5:08 pm
9 people like this

[Post removed.]


Facts
Crescent Park
on Jul 8, 2020 at 5:21 pm
Facts, Crescent Park
on Jul 8, 2020 at 5:21 pm
6 people like this

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


Jim Kirk
Crescent Park
on Jul 8, 2020 at 5:24 pm
Jim Kirk, Crescent Park
on Jul 8, 2020 at 5:24 pm
7 people like this

This story would have more credibility if the weekly had made some attempt to corroborate these women’s claims. [Portion removed.]


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 8, 2020 at 5:29 pm
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 8, 2020 at 5:29 pm
4 people like this

Posted by Jennifer, a resident of another community

>> Get the criminals off the streets, and a lot of us support the police.

I would like you to be more explicit. Do you "support the police" period? Do you support police who violate citizens 1st and 14th Amendment rights?

I support police who respect the Constitution and people's Constitutional Rights. I support police who cite people for small crimes and arrest people for big crimes, with the minimum force necessary to safely make the arrest. I don't support police who break the law themselves. It is pretty simple. I'm a liberal and I support individual rights, as defined by the Constitution, and other laws, such as the several Civil Rights Acts, starting with the 1875 Civil Rights Act promoted by and signed by President Grant.

==

"po·lice state /pəˈlēs ˈstāt/
noun: police state; plural noun: police states
a totalitarian state controlled by a political police force that secretly supervises the citizens' activities."


Jennifer
another community
on Jul 8, 2020 at 6:03 pm
Jennifer, another community
on Jul 8, 2020 at 6:03 pm
14 people like this

I do support equality. But a lot of us believe in pulling yourself up from your bootstraps, and personal responsibility. And the "white savior complex" is pathetic. In the words of my friend Denise (who is black) "thank goodness you're not a woke." She told me 2/3 of the black community doesn't support BLM, and I googled it and read the same thing. Equality - yes. The approach, absolutely not.

You have to rise above any type of discrimination. I've dealt with sexism, but I choose to concentrate on all the advantages women have, and I don't get paid less because I'm a woman. Women need to ASK for more.

[Portion removed.]


shawna
Midtown
on Jul 8, 2020 at 11:05 pm
shawna, Midtown
on Jul 8, 2020 at 11:05 pm
7 people like this

My mom knows everyone in this read. Glad to see this type of article. Growing up here was quite annoying. And My mom still works at MA.

I can say similar situations happened to my dad on the regular. I would hear stories every day of these types of situations not to mention experiencing less intense ones myself but the fact is it happened and happens.


Kenny
University South
on Jul 12, 2020 at 8:04 pm
Kenny, University South
on Jul 12, 2020 at 8:04 pm
4 people like this

"Let's not forget that many Asians experience the same type of racism, even today."

Yes, especially here on Town Square. Given this newspaper's penchant for censorship, it is surprising that such commentary is not immediately removed.

""More than half of serious crimes in Palo Alto are committed by non local black and Hispanic males ages 16-30."

Let's say I don't dispute that."

Why wouldn't you dispute that? If it was made up on the spot, then it is racist and should be condemned. Whoever made that claim, please cite the source of your information.


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