Open Letter to City Manager

Open Letter to City Manager

Mr. Eric Levitt:
I have just listened to and watched every minute of the audio and body-camera footage of Mali Watkins’ detention by five Alameda police officers. I am beyond angry and absolutely heart-sick about what I just witnessed: government-sponsored terrorism. 

Every single one of those officers should be fired, arrested and charged with assault and deprivation of liberty. All Watkins was doing was what all of us have been doing during shelter-in-place — what the city itself has demanded that we do — which is that when we exercise outdoors, which we are legally allowed to do, that we stay away from other people. 

I have walked onto the street countless times to avoid others and I have seen many, many people do the same. We do it safely, looking around and making sure we are not endangering ourselves or others. I, a White-presenting Latina woman, have not been confronted or detained for it and neither has anyone else I’ve seen — until now. 

Watkins was plainly not endangering anyone when he was accosted by those officers. There is no law that says we have to talk to the police. We have the right to remain silent. Those officers would not accept that he has that right. They detained him against his will and assaulted him repeatedly, putting their hands on him over and over and over again without his consent. 

They shoved and grabbed and pulled at him and ran their hands over his body and squeezed his neck. I am absolutely livid that my tax dollars paid for that to happen. I will not allow it. Not in my name. 

Those officers should be removed — they are a danger to our residents. And if the police chief trained these men, he should be removed as well. This is absolutely unacceptable. The city should release the records of every single one of these officers. We are paying them very comfortable salaries and we have a right to know what we are paying for. If national events have shown us anything, it’s that the time for police accountability and reform is now.

I have been an Alameda resident for a decade. I love this town. Those officers and any who choose to behave like them have no place here. 

You are accountable to the taxpayers who pay your salary. You need to send a message to every resident of Alameda that this kind of racist abuse will not stand. This is not who we want to be. You have the ultimate power to take decisive action and show that Alamedans are better than this. If you do not, I will vote for any City Councilmember who promises to remove you. 

This is a test. A very grave one. I sincerely hope you pass it so that we can begin to heal as a community.