Protests escalate after Stockton City Council meeting

Denise Friday, left, and Deon Smith Downs, right, hold up a sign for Colby Friday at the April 7 Stockton City Council meeting. PHOTO BY MIKAEL HONZELL

Tensions have been high in the Stockton City Council chamber since Feb. 21, when a group of protestors identified with Stockton chapter of Black Lives Matter were removed from leave City Hall for causing a scene by police in riot gear.

The protestors returned on March 7, seeking answers in the deaths of Colby Friday and James Rivera; two African American males who were shot and killed by police in separate incidents.

Denise Friday, left, and Deon Smith Downs, right, hold up a sign for Colby Friday at the April 7 Stockton City Council meeting. PHOTO BY MIKAEL HONZELL

Denise Friday and Deon Smith Downs mothers of the victims, were also at the meeting, asking the council to release footage of the incident in which Colby Friday was shot.

“Once again, I’m here because my son, Colby Friday, was assassinated by officer David Wells,” said Friday to the council. “And I want to know where we are going from here. Because I know there is surveillance video there in Jamestown and I’m asking that the surveillance would be released; because if you guys have nothing to hide, why can’t you just release everything so people know where we stand?”

Colby Friday was shot and killed near the Jamestown Plaza after an officer matched his identity with a robbery suspect in August 2016.

According to an article on Fox 40, the suspect ran away from the officer, armed with a handgun.

After Colby Friday stopped running, he and the officer got into a confrontation that made the officer fear for his safety and others, leading to him to shooting the armed suspect, who later died in the hospital.

Family and friends want to know why the officer used excessive force, suspecting he didn’t really have to shoot Friday.

However, due to the council being unable to respond to the public’s comments, this has left protestors and family members feeling ignored.

“It’s like a ping-pong game,” said Downs. “We’re still not having a conversation. So they keep telling the people that they want to build community relations, but that (council members not responding) is not community relations.

I’m tired of ping pong. Look at how many families have been through this. I think there are 35 families whose loved ones were killed by police, unarmed. And they still don’t have any answers.”

Protestors are expected to return to these meetings until they get answers, as well as a change in how things are run in the city.

“I would like for the police to release any type of footage from surveillance or body cameras within 72 hours,” Friday said. “It’s a law in the states where this happens. I would also like that the police to stop racial profiling individuals. They approach whites differently than they do a black person.”

Gabriel Mendez, 18, said this profiling applies to more than just African Americans.

“What I hope to accomplish by coming to these meetings is to be able to wear the clothing my mom buys me, without walking down the street and the police hopping out the car to ask me what gang I’m from,” said Mendez.

The April 7 meeting didn’t get out of hand like the one on Feb. 21 inside the council chambers.

However, not long after the meeting ended, members of the protest group approached a man in the Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza across from City Hall and began punching and kicking him. The man was hospitalized, according to Officer Joe Silva, who released a statement on the Stockton Police Department’s Facebook page.

The press release went on to read the protestors then walked out into the streets blocking traffic, some doing the same on ramps for the Crosstown Freeway. Protestors eventually marched to the Police Department, where a total of 12 arrest were made.