An Message From Our CEO, Cara Dessert
June 5, 2020
Dear Center Community,Last night, in one of the largest protests this week, youth led thousands in a march through Hillcrest and North Park, to rally for Black lives and call out the anti-Black racism in law enforcement that has taken too many innocent Black lives for too long. Today would have been #BreonnaTaylor’s 27th birthday; as an EMT on the frontlines of the Coronavirus pandemic, she dreamed of becoming a nurse. She was shot eight times by police as she slept in her own bed. 84 days later, the officers involved have still not been charged. We join in a national call for justice for Breonna.
In our LGBTQ community, we know that protests can change the trajectory of a movement, as our own Stonewall riots began as a call against policy brutality 51 years ago. The Center strongly supports protesters who join in proclaiming Black Lives Matter and call for an end to injustice for Black people. These protests throughout the nation and in San Diego have already made progress, calling for many to examine our minds and hearts and do more for the Black community. A notable step forward for our region, San Diego Police Department, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, the City of Chula Vista Police Department, the Nation City Police Department, and more have all banned the carotid restraint. But this is just one step. It will take each of us, all of our families, our whole village, to upend 400 years of anti-Black racism, embedded in so many systems and institutions that devalue Black lives.
We must all examine our own history and the racism that is rooted in us all, and in our own institutions, before we can build a society where Black lives truly matter. Today, we reflect on the voices of the 130 Black community members who attended The Center’s first Black LGBTQ Town Hall last August. We acknowledge the deep pain and hurt that was in our auditorium that night, and we acknowledge the many times in our 48 year history that The Center has failed our Black community, failed to welcome and value our Black community members, failed to develop programming or provide services, failed to amplify Black voices and the voices of Black youth, failed to treat Black people with the respect and dignity that we all deserve. For every single time we have failed to serve and support our Black community, we apologize. No doubt we have work to do, and today we recommit ourselves to do better.
Informed by the Black Town Hall in September, we started the first Black LGBTQ Community Advisory Council which informs and guides The Center’s strategies and steps to better serve and support our Black community. This group identified and outlined a set of Center priorities to better serve the Black community; this has guided our work for the last 10 months, including creating Brave Space, a Black peer-led discussion group for LGBTQ folks of the Black and African diaspora to bond, connect, and share in community. While these are steps forward, we acknowledge that there is much more work to do. We recommit to doing more, including fighting for a San Diego criminal justice system that values Black lives.
In this moment of reckoning, we must reimagine law enforcement. Ending police violence will take your help, broad community engagement, and bold leadership from our elected officials. The Center invites you to join us and the Coalition for Police Accountability and Transparency (CPAT) in calling for local governments to pass the Police Accountability Now policy reforms.
The Police Accountability Now policy reforms includes five policy changes that will address racial and identity disparities present across San Diego County:
- Passing PrOTECT, a policy that seeks to limit the use of discretionary stops and searches by police
- Ending the enforcement of low-level offenses and investing in non-law enforcement alternatives to respond to crises by divesting money from police budgets
- Establishing an independent community oversight board with investigatory and subpoena powers
- Adopting a robust de-escalation policy
- Banning the use of chokeholds and carotid restraints*, requiring a duty to intervene and instituting other measures
*Note: Although carotid restraints have been newly banned in the City and County of San Diego, we echo calls for their ban in other jurisdictions.
Broad, systemic changes are needed. We are committed to this work, knowing we have much to learn and grow, and we invite you to join us in building a San Diego LGBTQ community where Black lives matter.
Cara Dessert, CEO
The mission of The San Diego LGBT Community Center is to enhance and sustain the health and well-being of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, non-binary and HIV communities by providing activities, programs and services that create community; empower community members; provide essential resources; advocate for civil and human rights; and embrace, promote and support our cultural diversity.
- Centre Street Location: 3909 Centre St, San Diego, CA 92103
- Sunburst Youth Housing Project: 1640 Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101
- Hillcrest Youth Center: 1807 Robinson Ave, Suite 106, San Diego, CA 92103
- South Bay Youth Center: 1180 Third Ave, Suite C1, Chula Vista, CA 91911