“If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.”
That old saying—now a standard of inductive legal reasoning—seems to have been ignored by the South Pasadena Police Department in events leading up the to 2020 election.
By William J. Kelly
At issue is how SPPD handled two assaults by one individual and intimidation by another of Black Lives Matter demonstrators at the corner of Mission and Fair Oaks. In both of these cases, it apparently never occurred to the SPPD officers handling the complaints that the perpetrators might have been motivated by racial and political hatred. That’s the subtext of a recent internal SPPD investigation.
But what else possibly could explain the behavior of one of the assailants, Joe Richcreek, now on trial for simple assault? He rode the bus from Monterey Park, where he lives, to South Pasadena on several occasions to harass BLM demonstrators. Turns out Richcreek has a long history of being on the wrong side of the law. This very fine fellow has had 20 convictions since 1985 on such charges as battery, arson, weapons, resisting arrest, trespassing, receiving stolen property, making a criminal threat, making a threatening call, grand theft, and drunk driving.
Perhaps the officer handling the complaints of assaults on peaceful demonstrators thought that Richcreek just came up from Monterey Park to do a little shopping and have lunch in town before suddenly spitting on people waving BLM signs. On yet another shopping spree, he chased them down with rocks and a sharpened stick. No hatred there, of course.
How about the case of Richard Cheney? He drove his pickup truck from the right hand lane northbound across four lanes of traffic, running a left turn stop light, onto a street corner filled with demonstrators and pedestrians. Cheney was released by police, who didn’t even cite him for a traffic violation. Previously, he had spewed political and racist vitriol on social media, including a suggestion that BLM demonstrators be hosed down with raw sewage from a septic tank pumping truck. Cheney has quietly disappeared. Ostensibly his case was referred to the District Attorney, but almost a year later there hasn’t been one word from SPPD or City Hall on why he apparently got off scot-free.
Our local elected officials must stand up against prejudice
Yes, it simply never occurred to nine separate police officers “investigating” the various transgressions that hatred was the chief motivation. That’s no surprise, though, with police unions’ all-out support for Trump and the presence of police and plenty of blue lives matter flags at the January 6 invasion of the U.S. Capitol.
What is clear is that anything goes and nothing matters for many police and far right supporters, when it comes to attacking Blacks, liberals, and even members of Congress. Welcome to the new Jim Crow; don’t expect it to change until our local elected officials stand up against prejudice wherever it’s manifested.
In the case of South Pasadena Police, the internal investigation by a former Los Angeles Police officer commissioned by the City for $40,000 determined the involved officers lacked training and knowledge of how to investigate hate crimes. It also concluded that they did a generally shoddy job of handling the cases. Inexplicably, the report said there was no evidence of bias, despite the clear pattern of prejudicial policing over the summer and leading up to the election. In the eyes of the city council, these matters are resolved. Future problems can be prevented by merely training the biased officers who violated policy and did a generally poor job. No further action or explanation to the community is needed.
Prejudicial manner tolerated by superiors
However, at a time when discussion and concern about racial and political hatred and armed White supremacist militias dominates the nation’s headlines and airwaves, how could police have ignored racial and political hatred as a potential motivation for assaults on those exercising their free speech rights?
Even the most casual observer must conclude that the nine officers acted in a prejudicial manner, and that it was tolerated by their superiors. Those nine account for more than a quarter of SPPD’s sworn officers. That sure looks like systemic racism and political prejudice. Remember: “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it’s probably a duck.”
I hope you appreciated this article. Before you move on, please consider supporting the Colorado Boulevard’s journalism.
Billionaires, hedge fund owners and local imposters have a powerful hold on the information that reaches the public. Colorado Boulevard stands to serve the public interest – not profit motives.
While fairness guides everything we do, we know there is a right and a wrong position in the fight against racism and climate crisis while supporting reproductive rights and social justice. We provide a fresh perspective on local politics – one so often missing from so-called ‘local’ journalism.
You can access Colorado Boulevard’s paywall-free journalism because of our unique reader-supported model. People like you, informed readers, keep us independent, beholden to no outside influence, and accessible to everyone.
Please consider supporting Colorado Boulevard today. Thank you. (Click to Support)