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Community Rallies Around African American Fremont Police Commander

According to Kirn Gill a longtime Fremont resident, “ Captain Bobbitt is an absolute legend and jewel, and the community will not stand for him to be treated this way, we need police leaders with his mentality and experience”.

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Oakland
native and Oakland Police Academy graduate Captain Fred Bobbitt of the Fremont Police Department is receiving an unprecedented amount of community support in his fight to continue implementing his “Community First” approach to policing in the Bay Area’s fourth largest city. 

 

Community outrage is growing and is being directed at Fremont City Manager Mark Danaj afterallegations that Danaj reportedly tried to push Bobbitt to retire in September 2020, just two months after Captain Bobbitt was recognized by the Chief of Police and the community for effectively managing peaceful social justice protests that occurred in Fremont after the killing of George Floyd.

Captain Bobbitt, 53, is a 35year veteran of the Fremont Police Department who has managed to go his entire career without a single community complaint or disciplinary action.

Captain Bobbitt is widely recognized for training officers under his command to be “community friendlyto achieve the most effective results. In 2017. he founded the “Building Bridges” program in collaboration with the Fremont school district.

 

The program allows each sixth-grade student to meet, interact and play games with officers as a way tobuild early trust. To date, 9,000 children and families have participated in what is considered a highly successful program.

 

Captain Bobbitt was also recognized for his work with faithbased institutions, including the Sikh community, the Muslim community, the Hindi community, the Christian community and multiple other faith denominations that serve Fremonts large AAPI community. He was honored by former Assemblymember Kansen Chu as a community hero.

During a virtual town hall meeting in support of Captain Bobbitt on April 26, all 175 registration spots for the meeting were filled within seven days after the meeting was announced.

 

Responding to questions from the Post News Group, the City of Fremont sent a formal statement in an email on May 18, saying the cityis aware of an online town hall meeting that was held April 26, 2021 on behalf of Captain Fred Bobbitt.

 

Though disagreeing with the allegations, the city said it could not comment on the specifics.  

 

The meeting flyer and various forms of information circulating on this matter, contain many untrue statements. However, because this matter involves a personnel issue governed by the Memorandum of Understanding with the Fremont Police Managers’ Association (FPMA), the City will not comment on a confidential personnel matter involving Captain Bobbitt.”


According to a summary and timeline posted on the town hall flyer, City Manager Danaj allegedly attempted to force Captain Bobbitt out in a manner that would not have required the City Council and the Mayor to be notified.

After being presented with an offer to retire, Captain Bobbitt’s family, many of whom reside in East Oakland, encouraged him to reject the offer, which included his full union pension as a captain and a large undisclosed cash payout.

 

His family reinforced the need for his leadership and the need for him to continue leading reform in this critical moment of history. After his official refusal to retire, he was promptly reassigned to an office at the Animal Shelter away from contact with FPD officers, which many community members see as retaliation for his refusal to retire and for his insistence that his communityfirst approach be continued.

During the recent town hall meeting, the primary question posed by the community was: “Why. in a moment in of history where the entire country is desperate for African American leadership in law enforcement and is demanding lowcost police reform;  the question was why would the Fremont City Manager want to force the retirement of the city’s longest serving  African American police officer and the city’s longest tenured Black employee.

During the town hall meeting, it was alleged that City Manager Danaj has had a questionable past in managing major personnel decisions. People pointed to news articles that said Danaj had been placed on administrative leave and terminated without cause from his post as City Manager of Manhattan Beach CA in January 2018.

 

In addition, in October 2018, he was the subject of a pension investigation during his brief employment in the Santa Clara City Managers Office (just prior to taking the job in Fremont).

According to Kirn Gill a longtime Fremont resident, “ Captain Bobbitt is an absolute legend and jewel, and the community will not stand for him to be treated this way, we need police leaders with his mentality and experience”.

According to Nick Austin who recently retired from the Fremont Police Department due to injury, Captain Bobbitt was a liaison between the city administration and helped get me the doctors I needed  for my injury. Any time I was stressed or worried, Captain Bobbitt was there for my family. In my opinion Captain Bobbitt is the leadership at the PD, and I considered him not only my boss but a great friend and a great person.


I think it’s extremely disappointing that Captain Bobbitt is being treated with absolute disrespect after over 35 years of dedicated service for an organization of which he loves.

According to a letter written to the Fremont City Council and Mayor from Yulanda Williams, president of Officers for Justice,  3rd vice president of San Francisco NAACP and a lifetime member of Black Women Organized for Political Action (BWOPA), Leadership and logic need to prevail here. This moment in history has no place for the personal agenda or politics of the Fremont City manager.”

During virtual town hall meetings, calls for the City Manager to be fired came from multiple community leaders.

 

The city’s formal  email response to the community did indirectly defend Captain Bobbitt’s transfer and reply to allegations against City Manager Denaj.

 

The Police Chief is solely responsible for all police department appointments” and that Captain Bobbitt was moved to the “Professional Support Services Division,” where he is in commend of 80 full-time employees,  “the second largest division in the department,” the email said.

 

While the city “can’t specifically commenton City Manager Danaj’s personnel matter in Manhattan Beach or the pension investigation, it is known that his employment contract was ended “without cause,”  according to the cityemail, which posted links of several news articles quoting the City Manager in his own defense.

Below are several news articles related to the city’s manager’s past job performance.

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Business

Emergency Federal Drought Relief Available

Farmers and ranchers interested in a disaster loan can apply on the USDA website. Small, non-farm businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, and most private nonprofits can apply for the loans by contacting the SBA at 1 (800) 659-2955 or by email. Hearing impaired individuals may call 1 (800) 877-8339.

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The Marin County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously May 18, 2021, to declare a local emergency and acknowledge the imminent threat of disaster and the severe effect on dairies and ranchers in West Marin.
The Marin County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously May 18, 2021, to declare a local emergency and acknowledge the imminent threat of disaster and the severe effect on dairies and ranchers in West Marin.

Marin and all other California counties to be eligible for assistance

Courtesy of Marin County

As California and the West Coast enter their third year of drought, Marin County and the state’s other 57 counties have been declared primary disaster areas by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The dry conditions are bad news for Marin’s farmers and ranchers, but the disaster designation status makes available emergency loans for agricultural businesses.

Additionally, the Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering Economic Injury Disaster Loans to non-farm small businesses that do business directly with farmers and ranchers, such as truckers and suppliers of agricultural equipment or services. Eligible businesses may apply for disaster loans through Dec. 8, 2022.

Farmers and ranchers interested in a disaster loan can apply on the USDA website. Small, non-farm businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, and most private nonprofits can apply for the loans by contacting the SBA at 1 (800) 659-2955 or by email. Hearing impaired individuals may call 1 (800) 877-8339.

“We want to raise awareness of the financial opportunities this drought designation provides because it may help some of these small businesses hampered by our continuing severe drought conditions,” said Marin County Agricultural Commissioner Stefan Parnay.

The federal commitment to assist businesses because of drought-related hardship extends to 23 other western states in addition to California. Small non-farm businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, and most private nonprofits of any size may qualify for SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses that could have been met had the drought not occurred.

In July 2021, the State of California added Marin to its list of counties falling under its state of emergency for drought and record-breaking high temperatures statewide. Governor Gavin Newsom made the drought official in 50 of the state’s 58 counties. Since then, state agencies partnered with local water suppliers to promote conservation tips through the Save Our Water campaign.

The Marin County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously May 18, 2021, to declare a local emergency and acknowledge the imminent threat of disaster and the severe effect on dairies and ranchers in West Marin. It also made the County eligible for California Disaster Assistance and other forms of state funding and resources. The local declaration cleared the way for state authorities to aid response and recovery efforts available to the County, water suppliers, farmers, impacted businesses and residents.

Marin Water, the municipal water district serving the majority of water customers in the county, and the Novato-based North Marin Water District (NMWD) are staying in contact with the County about drought conditions. Both water districts have declared water shortage emergencies and enacted mandatory conservation measures. Marin Water serves more than 191,000 customers in central and southern Marin. NWMD serves a customer base of about 64,000 in and around Novato and parts of coastal West Marin. For localized details, see the water rules webpages for Marin Water and NMWD.

Marin residents have been asked to support local agricultural producers who have been affected by the drought right on the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021 numerous Marin ranchers had to import water by truck to keep their animals alive while also reducing their herds. With far less vegetation for grazing because of the ongoing drought, animals are eating imported feed shipped from other states at extremely high costs to the ranchers. Additionally, a few Marin crop producers had to import water by truck to keep crops alive and fallowed approximately 150 acres, or about 50% of the 300 crop acres in the county.

“As the region enters its third year of drought, this season is going to take a significant toll on our agricultural industry,” Parnay said.

The Board of Supervisors last year approved $150,000 in drought relief funds for the agricultural industry and another $250,000 for general drought relief needs to augment other state and federal aid.

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Antonio‌ ‌Ray‌ ‌Harvey‌

California Will Be First State to Break Down Black Employee Data by Ethnic Origin

Recently, disaggregation of Black data has been a top priority for some Black lawmakers and advocates supporting reparations for Black descendants of American slavery in California. In January, Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), introduced AB 1604, the Upward Mobility Act of 2022, legislation that will require the state to breakdown the data of state employees by ethnic origin.

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Disaggregated data refers to the separation of compiled information into smaller units to clarify underlying trends and patterns.
Disaggregated data refers to the separation of compiled information into smaller units to clarify underlying trends and patterns.

By Antonio Ray Harvey, California Black Media

When Gov. Gavin Newsom presented the annual May revision of his budget proposal for the next fiscal year, he announced that California will establish new demographic categories when collecting data pertaining to the ethnic origin of Black state employees.

Kamilah A. Moore, the chairperson of the California Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans, said the breakdown of data is “amazing news.”

“California will become the first state in the nation to disaggregate data for its Black population by ancestry/lineage,” Moore posted on her Twitter page on May 13. “This will assist the task force in our efforts to develop comprehensive reparations proposals for descendants.”

Disaggregated data refers to the separation of compiled information into smaller units to clarify underlying trends and patterns. Newsom’s actions are similar to a bill authored by then-Assemblyman Rob Bonta.

In September 2016, former Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill (AB) 1726 into law that required the state Department of Public Health to separate demographic data it collects by ethnicity or ancestry for Native Hawaiian, Asian, and Pacific Islander groups.

Recently, disaggregation of Black data has been a top priority for some Black lawmakers and advocates supporting reparations for Black descendants of American slavery in California. In January, Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), introduced AB 1604, the Upward Mobility Act of 2022, legislation that will require the state to breakdown the data of state employees by ethnic origin.

The Assembly Committee on Appropriations is currently reviewing the bill.

AB 1604 promotes mobility for people of color in California’s civil services system and requires diversity on state boards and commissions. Newsom vetoed AB 105 last year, the legislative forerunner to AB 1604, which Holden also introduced.

Shortly after he was appointed chair of the Assembly Committee on Appropriations in January, Holden reintroduced the legislation as AB 1604.

Holden, a member of the California Legislative Black Caucus, said AB 1604 will give the Reparations Task Force more accurate data to utilize in its study and deliberations. The bill was passed by the Assembly Committee on Public Employment and Retirement on March 14.

In a written statement released in October last year, Newsom said he vetoed AB 105 because “the bill conflicts with existing constitutional requirements, labor, agreements, and current data collections efforts” but found disaggregation useful for dissecting data about California’s workforce.

As stated in his 2022-2023 May revision of the state budget, under the section titled “State Workforce Demographic Data Collection,” Newsom proposed the separation of Black employee data beginning with the state’s 2.5 million-plus employees.

The Department of Human Resources (CalHR) will work with the State Controller to establish new demographic categories for the collection of data pertaining to the ancestry or ethnic origin of African American employees.

The collection of this data, the document states, “continues CalHR’s duties to maintain statistical information necessary for the evaluation of equal employment opportunity and upward mobility within state civil service.”

In March, the nine-member Task Force to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans decided with a 5-4 vote that lineage will determine who will be eligible for reparations.

The May revision also includes $1.5 million in funding for the Department of Justice to continue supporting the work of the Task Force to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans

Supporters of disaggregation say it will serve as a key tool for the task force as it enters its second year of studying slavery and its lingering effects on African Americans.

The state’s reparations task force will recommend what compensation should be and how it should be paid by July 2023.

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Bay Area

SoCal Group Holds Black-Themed Commencement, Presents Scholarships for Local High School Grads

The Buffongs say 694 students signed up for the Black graduation event their company held in conjunction with the Cooperative Economic Empowerment Movement (CEEM) and a myriad of other sponsors. In addition to celebrating the students’ achievements, the Buffongs say the event held at the Los Angeles County Fair Grounds in Pomona introduced members of the class of 2022 to culturally significant career, social and civic opportunities.

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More than 670 Black graduates from various high schools come to a special graduation at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds in Pomona on May 13, 2022.
More than 670 Black graduates from various high schools come to a special graduation at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds in Pomona on May 13, 2022.

SoCal Group Holds Black-Themed Commencement, Presents Scholarships for Local High School Grads

By Aldon Thomas Stiles, California Black Media

This past weekend in the Inland Empire, a San Bernardino couple welcomed hundreds of African American high school graduates from the region for a joyous multi high school, Black-themed graduation celebration.

“Sometimes we have students doing magnificent things and nobody sees them,” said Keynasia Buffong, co-founder of Buffong Consultation Solutions, the company that organized the celebration honoring graduates from various high schools in the area.

Keynasia Buffong co-owns the firm with her husband Jonathan Buffong. The couple wants to expand the mass graduation event to all regions in the state.

“When you come into your community, we see you. We recognize you,” Kaynasia Buffong continued.

The Buffongs say 694 students signed up for the Black graduation event their company held in conjunction with the Cooperative Economic Empowerment Movement (CEEM) and a myriad of other sponsors.

In addition to celebrating the students’ achievements, the Buffongs say the event held at the Los Angeles County Fair Grounds in Pomona introduced members of the class of 2022 to culturally significant career, social and civic opportunities.

Black Greek organizations attended the weekend-long event as well as the first Black valedictorian of Beaumont High School where African American students make up a little under 7% of the student population.

“We got a chance to give away $27,000 in scholarships,” said Keynasia.

Both Buffongs are educators and student advocates in California. They have been hosting the graduation event appreciating Black students for over 11 years.

But the Buffongs say celebrating success always comes with a reminder of the challenges Black students face.

According to the California Department of Education, at 72.5%, Black students had the lowest high school graduation rate among all other racial or ethnic groups at the end of the 2020 to 2021 academic year.

Jonathan said one of their goals is to help graduates transition into the next stage of their academic life, whether that be a four-year university, community college, trade school, or employment.

“Sometimes they don’t know where to go or what to do,” said Keynasia. “There’s mentorship and sponsorship and we aim to have both.”

For the scholarship awards, the Buffongs are not just looking at grades but the full context of the graduates’ lives.

“Whether it’s COVID, deaths, family or health issues, disabilities, we’re looking for things to support them on so we can get them to the next level,” said Jonathan.

Outside of academic and career success, the Buffongs spoke about the importance of Black cultural exposure through education and traditional practices such as the Black national anthem and a libation ceremony.

The libation ceremony is performed by an elder in the community as a way to honor one’s ancestors. It is significant in various African cultures as well as other cultures around the globe.

The Buffongs say their next step is to look into more internship opportunities and figure out how to help curb the high numbers of Black high school graduates who leave the state to pursue opportunities elsewhere.

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