San Jose, the City I Call Home, Has Once Again Let Down the Black Community

How the Racist Texts from a San Jose Police Officer Exposes a Larger History of Systemic Racism

Editor's Note:

Author Raymond Goins gives context to the racist texts by former San Jose Police officer Mark McNamara, and how the racism expressed is indicative of a larger, long standing attack on the Black community by law enforcement and political decision-makers.

On November 8th, 2023 I sat in the federal court room watching the attorneys of the City of San Jose being forced to apologize to K’Aun Greens attorney Adante Pointer for the remarks that Officer McNamara made. I was appalled and disheartened to hear that they refused to extend that apology to K’Aun Green and the Black community here in San Jose. This hearing was in regard to a civil suit that was filed by his attorney on behalf of K’Aun Green, a young black student was shot four times by former SJPD officer McNamara while K’Aun was backing out La Victoria Restaurant while breaking up a fight inside the restaurant. Months after the shooting, texts came out revealing McNamara’s racism.

Officer McNamara, while employed by the city of San Jose, texted “I hate black people.” In my mind, it was a good time for the city of San Jose to stand behind the Black community and condemn this kind of hate speech. I mean after all, the hearing we were all there for was about the city of San Jose explaining to the judge that because of McNamara texts, they could no longer represent him. And yet they refused to apologize to the Black community.

San Jose, the city I call home, has once again failed our Black community. But I don’t think that caught any of us by surprise. Why hasn’t the Santa Clara County District Attorney Office filed charges against McNamara for hate crimes against a Black man who was just being a Good Samaritan.

McNamara’s text clearly goes to his state of mind. He hated Black people enough to try to kill one of us the first opportunity he got. He clearly stated in his deposition that he felt “he did nothing wrong” in shooting K’Aun Green at point blank range. Clearly the DA’s office knows that his texts and statements from the deposition shows a clear lack of remorse. However, I know that from my experience of dealing with law enforcement on a continual basis for almost 28 years, that this kind of behavior is not the exception for the law enforcement community. I have seen, been in and experienced the criminal justice system in Santa Clara County in its entirety for the past 28 years.

This kind of reaction from a city that I witnessed systematically eradicated the Black community through mass incarceration 80-90’s, then through making housing unaffordable causing the gentrification unacceptable, but not unexpected.

The generational destruction that this city created when it empowered law enforcement to start hunting the Black and brown community leaders is evidenced by the change in demographics over these past few decades since the dot com boom era began. In  my opinion Big Tech is directly linked and responsible for the over policing practices here in Silicon Valley, specifically San Jose where the police department continues to actively grow their militarization expansion. As large tech firms took root in San Jose, the gentrification and displacement of Black people accelerated by mass incarceration.

This city’s law enforcement hierarchy to me seems like something you hear in mob movies. Where the whole chain of command is shady. I mean let’s go through the law enforcement institutions in the region in just the last 12 months. Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith was caught dealing guns permits; San Jose Police Officer Association Executive Director Joanne Segovia was caught using the prestige of the San Jose Police Officer Association Office to allegedly distribute and sell fentanyl and other pharmaceuticals through the county of Santa Clara and the rest of the United States. And now we have the Blue Klux Klan in the police force. This is crazy, what is our DA doing with his position? How are all these individuals out on no bail free to live their best lives without fear of incarceration? When Black and brown individuals who can’t afford a hot meal are given unaffordable bail for crimes that are not comparable to being charged as an international drug dealer. How can law enforcement break laws and still don’t see what the inside of a cell feels like?

It looks like to me that Santa Clara County District Attorney and the police have an agreement to turn a blind eye toward one another, until, as in this case, they can’t anymore.

Instead of wasting money and time opposing the release of qualified Black and brown, men and woman who are qualified to come home and help our community, why not prosecute the office (SJPD) which you continue to protect and have a different standard of prosecution for? I understand that you’re protecting your people, but you are supposed to protect the interest of the community that’s impacted as well. Not just the one who calls you neighbor, or fellow brothers in law enforcement.

illo: AD Avila // photo: Abe Menor

Now I “applaud” the mayor and chief for allowing former officer McNamara to say his goodbyes and quit his job so that he can retain all his benefits that the tax payers paid for firing that and coming out against this vile individual who proudly declares that HE HATES BLACK PEOPLE. Yet just coming out and declaring in a news conference that you did what you were supposed to do when nobody knew, is not impressive to me or my community.

The racist text messages came out because of an investigation into other crimes. This means that the chief and mayor should have known and or been informed about this conduct in advance of it being given to Mr. Greens legal team.

This seems to me an easy way out to give the community members and leaders low hanging fruit. The following is a list of things that San Jose Police Officer Association, San Jose Police Department, and the Santa Clara District Attorney can do to begin the process of police accountability and show that they are not just propagandists.

• Have all the individuals in that text string removed from their post and fired for not following their ethical duties to report this kind of behavior, and being complicit in these acts.

• Release all names involved in text unredacted.

• Release the names of everyone who was responsible to report this text to their superiors upon discovery to be fired for actively attempting to hinder any investigations and being an accessory after the fact.

• Hate crimes filed against the former officer McNamara by our Santa Clara County District Attorney.

• McNamara’s retirement be removed so he doesn’t profit off the taxpayer’s money.

Law enforcement in this country is the only occupation where you can be openly racist, misogynistic, and joke about shooting Black and Brown people without fear of reprisal and feel comfortable enough to be at home with being your authentic self.

We need to eradicate these people out the force and the occupation. We need to get rid of these kind of people in law enforcement and that’s including the racist DA’s who use their charging practices as the same as McNamara. A prosecutor charging someone with a crime based on race and sending them to prison can take a life just like a cop shooting someone four times.