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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.

Bay Area

Spoken Word Offers Aid to Black Men Facing Hardships

Their mission statement highlights that through sharing their lived experiences, members of Black Men Speaks and Men of Color “promote self and communal wellness, recovery, and freedom”.

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Image provided by Black Men Speak website

According to a National Health Survey on Drug Use and Health conducted in 2019 for the African American community, 6.5 million African Americans had a mental illness and/or substance abuse disorder.

These numbers don’t compare to the more in depth statistics on those who receive treatment and who do not and how, specifically, Black men are affected. For a lot of Black men and men of color, access to resources that may aid in mental health or substance abuse treatment are slim because of the influence within their own communities and outside of it to turn their backs on things that are perceived as anything less than the strength they should possess as a man, especially a Black man.

Black Men Speak, INC.(BMS), an international speakers bureau, was founded in 2009 through the Alameda Pool of Consumer Champions with this very notion in mind, that the best way to connect to other Black men who were struggling with mental health and substance abuse was through storytelling of their own struggles.

Three years following Black Men Speaks’ foundation, Men of Color(MOC) speaker’s bureau was established, which allowed them to expand their reach in the community.

Their mission statement highlights that through sharing their lived experiences, members of Black Men Speaks and Men of Color “promote self and communal wellness, recovery, and freedom”.

The stories that are told are set in the present day and feature unique challenges of loss, trauma, social and family issues and community violence and the importance of faith on the road to overall wellness & recovery.

Besides aiding their fellow men through connection in storytelling, BMS offers resources that help with employment, housing, homeless prevention, mentoring and peer support and training for presentation and public speaking.

Alongside these resources and mentoring, they make sure to do their part in advocating and assertively addressing other issues within their communities that have a direct impact on the African American community.

Black Men Speak is located in Oakland at 303 Hegenberger Road in Suite 210. Hours are Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 510-969-5086 or email 1blackmenspeak@gmail.com.

 

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Activism

Jasmine Market Encourage Unity in Marin City

During the event, Jong Lee, Caitilin Damacion, and Tammy Lai discussed how to raise the awareness of the various ethnic groups to each other in Marin City. A mobile clinic provided free COVID-19 vaccines.

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Top: The Jasmine Market at the St. Andrew Presbyterian Church. Bottom: Jong Lee, Caitilin Damacion, Tammy Lai (Photos by Godfrey Lee)

The First Marin City’s Jasmine Market was an inclusive, outdoor market celebrating Asian joy and intercultural solidarity in honor of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month in May.

It was hosted by the Marin City Community Development Corporation (MCCDC) and was held at the St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in Marin City on May 28, 2021.

A Marin City Librarian read an AAPI story. Sammy Brionnes gave a musical performance. Natalie Nong performed a Spoken Word poem.

During the event, Jong Lee, Caitilin Damacion, and Tammy Lai discussed how to raise the awareness of the various ethnic groups to each other in Marin City. A mobile clinic provided free COVID-19 vaccines.

Lee is the director of Women’s Rights and Peace Bay Area, and a board member for the Asian American Alliance of Marin. She is involved in advocating for ethnic studies in the Marin County School District and is working to spread awareness of the “comfort women” from Korea and other Asian nations. These women were forced to serve as sexual slaves for Japanese soldiers during WWII.

Tammy Lai is the CEO at Foundation for Justice and Peace (jpf.world).

Damacion, who lives in the East Bay, is the Micro-Enterprise Program Manager at the MCCDC.

During the discussion, Lee says that God created people in his image. We need to treat people in the image of God.

Lee really wants to see Asians, especially women, integrate with the other minorities, such as Koreans, who can become culturally isolated, and spoke to the need to bridge and understand other ethnic groups. “We need to step forward to meet each other halfway, and to reach out to understand each other,” Lee said.

Lai says that we have this opportunity, as we question ourselves in this cultural landscape, to build bridges. Communities become healthier when its members take one step toward one another to understand, listen and to build something better together.

Damacion, who is Filipino and mixed-raced, feels very strongly about building connections that are positive and beneficial to a community. Through her work with the MCCDC, she will work to advance diversity in Marin City, and will shed a light on the beauty she sees in Marin City and how people in the community took care of each other for generations.

Lai’s family immigrated from China to America after the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed in 1882. Her family history has brought her a deeper awareness of her identity. It becomes important to carry these conversations forward and share them with others.

“We all have our stories and should be open to tell them. There is nothing new under human history so we should learn to share them. You become much closer to each other,” says Lee.

For more information, go to www.marincitycdc.org/jasmine-market

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Bay Area

Vice Mayor: Business Group Wants to Buy Coliseum, Attract WNBA Team

The group will provide additional details of its effort at a news conference at 11:00 a.m. Friday at a site to be determined.

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Oakland Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan.

Oakland Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan said a local business group has made serious inroads to buy the city’s 50% stake in the Oakland Coliseum complex and to bring a WNBA team to the city.
Kaplan’s office shared a news release Monday about the effort by the African American Sports and Entertainment Group.

Kaplan said the group is in negotiations with the Oakland-Alameda Joint Powers Authority, has submitted a formal proposal to WNBA officials, and has submitted a term sheet to the city, which the City Council’s rules committee recently voted to advance to the full council for a vote.

The group will provide additional details of its effort at a news conference at 11:00 a.m. Friday at a site to be determined.

“I am pleased that there is such great interest in doing an important development at the Oakland Coliseum that will provide jobs, revenue and community positivity,” Kaplan said. “My goal is to help this process move forward before the summer recess.”

Kaplan said the group has the backing of more than 30 community groups of faith-based institutions, labor organizations, civic leaders, and job development organizations. She did not name the groups

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