Five before Midnight

This site is dedicated to the continuous oversight of the Riverside(CA)Police Department, which was formerly overseen by the state attorney general. This blog will hopefully play that role being free of City Hall's micromanagement.
"The horror of that moment," the King went on, "I shall never, never forget." "You will though," the Queen said, "if you don't make a memorandum of it." --Lewis Carroll


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Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Exhibit C or Humor, RPD style?

Sitting on the desk is Defendant's Exhibit C, used in the case of Roger Sutton v the City of Riverside (RIC346348)which is scheduled to begin trial on Monday, June 27, at 8:30am. In all liklihood, the trial will either be postponed to the fall or the law suit filed by the former RPD officer will finally be settled by both parties in lieu of putting the beleagured police department on trial.

Regardless, Exhibit C consists of a piece of paper that was put on display at several police facilities during 2001 and 2004, according to Sutton's law suit. In 2001, it hung on the Field Training Officer's division's bulletin board inside the Personnel and Training officem, which was housed along with the other administrative offices at the Orange Street Station. First spotted by Sutton in January 2001, it remained in place, through the months which immediately preceded the city's decision to enter into a stipulated agreement with the state to reform the police department. According to his deposition, Sutton tried to address the issue of the flier, but no one would listen to him. Not the police chief who's office was down the hall, nor the deputy chief, who occupied an office next to that used by the police chief. Internal Affairs, which back then also occupied space on the second floor of the Orange Street Station paid no heed either, according to Sutton. On March 6, 2001, the day the stipulated agreement began, the document still hung on the bulletin board at the Orange St. Station, as it would until it was finally removed two months later.

Homeboy Nyte Lyte flier

It disappeared for a while, before resurfacing last spring, this time at the Lincoln Field Operations Station, according to Scott Silverman, Sutton's attorney.

What is on this flier that made it so objectionable to Sutton, if not to the administrators who occupied the second floor of the department's administrative headquarters? The flier is a spoof of a newly designed night sight(or Nyte Syte as spelled here)because according to the Museum of Hoaxes Web site, the Birdman Weapons Systems doesn't exist.

The flier caused a stir in several places before it was determined to be a fake.

Gag that Faked out Town

Excerpts in italics

Before realizing the HoMeBoY apparently isn't an actual product, Loupassi, chairman of the Public Safety Committee, was outraged.

"I believe that is indefensible, and I'm part of the pro-gun lobby," he told a reporter.

Before discovering he and others had been fooled, Loupassi was going to contact state and federal agencies to investigate Birdman Weapons Systems.

Bill Dunham, agent in charge of the Richmond office of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, said his agency has been familiar with the Birdman site for some time. He said it's believed to be a satire, in part because it doesn't give prices or any opportunity to buy weapons.

He said some of the weapons described could not be made legally. He also found the site's high number of "hits" - more than 100,000 in the past year - a bit disturbing.

"It puts ideas in people's heads," Dunham said. "We don't need any more creative weapons than there are."

Of additional concern to many people, was the racism implied in birdman's products, particularly against African-Americans.

He noted other night sights are available, and Birdman suggests they be used for shooting people, particularly young black males. "This gun show was held within a mile of predominantly African-American communities," he said.

Discussions of what happened took place at forums including Free Republic

Rightwingers comment on Birdman controversy

***caution, racist text at site***

The flier caught the attention of at least one RPD officer, and his name was printed on top of the flier that eventually became evidence in Sutton's law suit. The file name was DaveSmithHomeboy.jpg. In his deposition, Sutton mentioned that there was a Dave Smith who worked at the department as a detective. Whether or not, he put the flier on display at the involved facilities is unknown. All that is known is that he did not create it on his own. Sutton explained in his deposition that he was offended by the flier's use of venicular and spelling that he said was derogatory towards African-Americans. In a department with a history of racism, which inevitably spilled over into the jokes officers told one another, this flier was a reminder of how the past continued to rule the present, despite the state's oversight over the department.

It's ironic that the flier ended up displayed on the bulletin board provided for the Field Training Officers, of the department, given that after the firing of the four officers who shot and killed a Black woman in 1998, almost all of them submitted resignations in protest.(see link on Riverside County Grand Jury's 2000 report on RPD)

How many trainees of all races and genders walked into the P & T office and saw this flier hanging on the board? How many officers working at Lincoln Field Operations saw this flier hanging last year? Was this really the portrait of the new, improved, racially sensitive RPD that politicians and police administrators have been working so hard to paint?

If the city doesn't settle the case and instead fights it inside the courtroom, a jury of 12 people will pass judgment on all the elements of this case, including Exhibit C, which was actually submitted by the defendant, the city of Riverside, during its deposition of the plaintiff, Sutton. Ironic, that after four years of turmoil that stemmed from long-denied racism inside its police agency, that the city would want to use as its alleged trump card, a flier that has already been criticized for being racist against African-American men elsewhere. So much so, that its author, the elusive birdman, had to issue a statement on it.

Birdman's comment on racism of ads at Free Republic:

" I certainly hope that nobody out there really thinks ANYTHING on my website is "racist" or advocates that one race is better than another. If anything, the opposite is true. I don't think any particular race is any more stupid than another. Many times people are way too fast to play out the race card when they don't have all of the facts. This is an easy way out of having to use their brain. In Richmond VA, this is the obvious case ...and that is a true shame. All I did with this website was to make something that nobody would really know how to categorize, and also point out a few areas in mankind's psyche that need some serious work.

Given that this flier has been displayed at several facilities owned by the city of Riverside, Birdman just might have a point here, if he includes the officers at the RPD who believe that a faux weapon designed to hunt African-American males is humor worthy of being posted at their workplace. There most definitely are a few areas in mankind's psyche that need some serious work.


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