Rancho Cordova Police Department (RCPD) has given the Compton City Council a first-hand look at the unintended consequences of implementing a ban on flavored tobacco and menthol products.
On April 28th a video was uploaded to Twitter which shows a snippet of an exchange between a young Black man and a white RCPD officer which has garnered over 7.4 million views.
The video shows the officer punching the 14-year-old in the face and driving his face into the dirt for simple possession of a swisher sweet. Visions of Eric Garner in a chokehold over selling loose cigarettes and dying on the street flash through our minds.
City Attorney Damon Brown, in conjunction with Mayor Aja Brown and Councilwoman Emma Sharif, have reignited their quest to ban certain tobacco products due to alleged ties to the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.
It is disheartening that they are attempting to use a global pandemic to push an agenda entailing taking away the rights of Black and Latino residents, many who use cigarettes to ease their nerves during this stressful time.
Rancho Cordova, which is located in Sacramento County, does not have a ban on either flavored tobacco or menthol, so it is unknown why the officer became so aggressive with the teen.
These bans, as highlighted by criminal justice advocates, underscore the need to closely examine the potential deadly consequences that could derive from enforcement.
In January, USC Law Professor Jody Armour spoke to the Compton council about the unintended consequences of a tobacco ban that would disproportionately affect African-American’s by resulting in more traffic stops.
Mayor Brown spoke passionately at a “know your rights” forum about being pulled over by Compton deputies, with her family in the car, while she was the driver. She spoke about how the situation frightened her especially due to her daughter being in the backseat.
Mayor Brown would not like to see her daughter face down in the dirt, on social media, for simply possessing a banned menthol cigarette and law enforcement blaming her daughter for “not following their commands”.
Everyone on the Compton dais has children that could also become victims of abusive cops who could inaccurately conclude they are in possession of a banned substance that warrants unnecessary contact with law enforcement professionals.
Residents expected more from Councilwoman Emma Sharif who previously served twelve years on the Compton School Board. Sharif failed to adequately address this issue by suggesting educating the students on the impacts of smoking
Instead, Sharif allowed children to be traumatized through suspension for possession. Our children have been traumatized enough.
Residents have grown accustomed to Sharif being unprepared and at time simply in a fog about issues presented before her. During the last discussion on tobacco she sounded like she had no clue what was going on and didn’t do any research on the topic instead choosing to listen to outsiders who brought forth no factual connection between the right to smoke and contracting the coronavirus.
Attorney Brown has a son that could also come into the crosshairs of law enforcement should he decide he wants to smoke and/or hang with friends that do. Would a ban justify the police shoving his child face first into the dirt because his dad drafted an ordinance making menthol cigarettes illegal to possess?
This council should be proactive and seek ways to work with the school district to find creative ways to educate our youth on the impact of smoking. The school district has contact with the children and can assist in obtaining the funding needed to create such a program.
Again, there is no factual link between cigarettes and COVID-19 but there is a direct link between Blacks suffering abuse at the hands of law enforcement that the city attorney chooses to ignore.
When city’s ban legal substances they are in essence giving law enforcement the green light to continue their unbalanced harassment of minorities, who have the ultimate right to use these products.
Are the lives of Compton residents worth the risk of this particular ban?
Police officers in Rancho Cordova, CA using excessive, and lethal force on a 14 year-old child after accusing him of smoking
This little boy has a heart condition and is still suffering chest pains after this.
— StanceGrounded (@_SJPeace_) April 28, 2020