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Online outrage sparked by Stockton police recruiting at Juneteenth event

A social media post flooded with comments wondering why the Stockton police were there and calling the department "tone-deaf."

TRACY, Calif. — Stockton police are facing backlash after a social media post of the department recruiting during a Juneteenth celebration on June 11 in Tracy — but organizers said they were invited.

A post on Facebook revealed a photo of a Stockton police officer tabling at the event for recruitment.

The post gained national attention with well over a thousand comments from people accusing the department of being insensitive, disrespectful, and “tone deaf”.

According to Stockton Police Department Public Information Officer Joe Silva, the department has been attending the event since 2012 and was invited by the organization that hosted the event, the Tracy African American Association.

“Our department gets invited to many cultural events and we will continue to attend to recruit a diverse group of future employees in furtherance of our strategic goal of recruiting and hiring a qualified and diverse workforce,” Silva said. “While we understand the historical significance of Juneteenth, we recognize moving forward requires building relationships and developing mutual understanding.”

Tracy African American Association President Yolande Barial Knight, confirmed to ABC10 that the organization did invite not only Stockton Police, but Tracy police as well as several other departments to recruit at the Juneteenth event — as they do every year.

“We invite all people,” Knight said. “Our mission is to create a cooperative environment for all kinds of people.”

The San Joaquin Juneteenth Foundation President Rosemarie Edwards said her organization also plans to invite the police to its upcoming Stockton Juneteenth event this weekend.

Members of the community were outraged by the fact that police were there.

One of the concerned commenters was 39-year-old Social Worker Briahn Badelle from Oakland, who said she believes Stockton PD’s presence at the event was tone-deaf and harmful to the Black community.

“It's clear that they didn't do their research on what Juneteenth is even about,” Badelle said. “If the Stockton PD would have taken then time to truly understand what this day of remembrance is, they would surely find out that the first police were actually men who hunted for runaway slaves.”

Juneteenth is one of the oldest holidays celebrating the emancipation of Black slaves in the United States. Badelle, along with over a thousand other commenters, said the police have no place at this kind of event.

“Black people do not feel safe around police,” Badelle said. “Any holiday that is about us honoring our ancestors should not be tainted by those who are part of a system that was literally built to keep us enslaved.”

Professor of Pan African and Ethnic studies at Sacramento State Martin Boston, said he thinks the public’s outrage is warranted considering the history between police and the Black community.

“The police force starts in two ways: one to patrol indigenous communities and populations, and two literally out of slave patrols,” Boston said. “From that history is where we get the police force literally from today.”

According to Boston, the earliest police force was the Charleston City Garden Watch in 1783 which began training as a slave patrol to catch runaway slaves and later became the Charleston Police Department.

“There has always been kind of an antagonistic relationship, particularly for the Black community, with the police because of that history,” Boston said. “Because it literally was about protecting property of the slave owners and the property themselves were enslaved Africans.” 

Tensions between the police force and the Black community remain high, with uncovered disparities that sparked the recent Black Lives Matter movement.

“Showing up to Juneteenth was an attempt to pander, without showing any respect to what the day is actually about,” Badelle said. “If they want to do outreach to the Black community there are town halls, listening sessions, working with local non-profits to listen to the Black community in Stockton about how they begin to repair a relationship with the Black community.” 

Stockton PD Recruiters are at the Juneteenth Celebration in Tracy...come out and let us tell you how to joinSPD! LINCOLN PARK - East St./E. Eaton Ave. joinSPD.com

Posted by Stockton Police Department on Saturday, June 11, 2022


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