A community coalition has called on San Jose’s elected leaders to fire a police officer for a threatening tirade he unleashed on Twitter in late 2014.
Officer Phillip White got placed on paid leave as the San Jose Police Department investigated complaints against him. He was later stripped of his duties amid fierce public backlash.
But last month, White got his job back by convincing an arbitrator that termination was too harsh a punishment in light of his record. Protesters marched outside the police department. Mayor Sam Liccardo came out against the decision. The NAACP challenged the ruling in court.
The Coalition for Justice and Accountability—a group of civil rights and service organization—wrote a letter imploring the City Council to join the fight against White’s reinstatement.
Below is the letter they sent to the mayor and City Council:
The Coalition for Justice and Accountability—a collective of San Jose service agencies, civil rights groups, ethnic advocacy organizations—urge you to challenge the arbitration ruling to place Officer White back on to the San Jose Police Department. The ruling is in complete contradiction to rationale public policy of ensuring all members of our community feel safe regardless of race. That he would be once again an officer—with a weapon—also defies basic common sense for a diverse city that is trying to improve relations between the public and the police force.
As you know, after San Jose Police Officer posted on twitter, “Threaten me or my family and I will use my God given and law appointed right and duty to kill you,” and “By the way, if anyone feels they can’t breathe or their lives matter, I’ll be at the movies tonight, off duty, carrying my gun” the community rallied in front of the San Jose Police Department, and gathered over 16,000 signatures on an online petition in a week. The San Jose Police Department followed the calls by the community, and fired Officer White. Officer White appealed the decision and was reinstated through a secret arbitration. The community does not know the name and ruling history of the arbitrator, nor what was discussed in the arbitration.
As our elected leaders, we find it incumbent that to challenge the arbitration. This is particularly necessary that Chief Garcia has stated that he stands by the department’s initial decision to fire Officer White. Doing so does not require a tremendous amount of political courage. To say that someone who threatens the public should not be a police officer is just common sense. There are two clear ways you can show support for the community. The first is to not challenge Nick Emanuel’s writ of mandate filed on behalf of the NAACP. The second, is for you to do what the writ is asking you all do—challenge the arbitration in court.
If our position requires further explanation, we welcome a conversation with you all in this matter.