Civic Leaders at Vigil for Police and Firefighters

Mayor Reed and vigil organizer Kathleen Flynn

Mayor Reed and vigil organizer Kathleen Flynn

A group of 100 or so citizens and civic leaders convened this afternoon at City Hall Plaza for a vigil to honor San Jose police, fire fighters, and crime victims. Speakers included Chuck Reed, Councilmembers Ash Kalra and Nora Campos, District Attorney Delores Carr, Police Union President Bobby Lopez, and Fire Fighters union president Randy Sekany. All of the speakers expressed thanks to the city’s police and fire fighters for their dedication to the city and the risks they take on our behalf. They also showed support for the families of crime victims, with particular attention to the family of Vahid Hosseini, a shopkeeper who was robbed and murdered almost exactly one year ago while making a deposit at a near-downtown Bank of the West branch.

It’s a shame that at the same moment, rhetorically speaking, as they joined together to honor and respect those deserving public servants and crime victims, so many of these same people are engaged in a game of “who can get their foot deeper in their mouth?” First, community organizer Raj Jayadev made a speech at the City Council that seemed to threaten a radical “street response” to perceived police bias against certain groups. Then, Police Officers Association president Lopez posted a video of the speech on the POA’s new blog in which he added titles that might be called snide (or maybe just childish) commentary on Jayadev’s speech. Somebody returned fire anonymously with an equally snide (and childish) response video.

Finally, councilmembers Kalra and Sam Liccardo got into the game by issuing a letter that seems to be meant to return this debate to a civil basis. Unfortunately Kalra and Liccardo’s letter has been interpreted as (and reported as) scolding the POA for the video, and infringing their first amendment right to keep their foot solidly in their mouth. In the end everybody seems to come out a loser in this debacle.

4 Comments so far

  1. kathleenflynn on June 10th, 2009 @ 1:24 pm

    Matt,
    I find it very sad that you had to take an event honoring the memories of victims of violent crime and dirty it up with stories about Raj. Your kind of reporting is what keeps these victims and the pain they’ve suffered a way from the public eye, and leaves them to grieve in isolation.

    Having said that, I want to take a moment to thank the hundreds of people who attended the vigil last night. I was deeply saddened and moved by your stories. I will never forget you, or the pain you have endured through you loss. Your courage and strength are admirable. I hope that you felt supported and comforted through this gathering of others who have experienced such horrific losses. Remember, you are not alone, and that our thoughts and prayers are with you all.

    I also want to thank the media who attended and kept the focus on the victims of violent crime, their family members, and friends. Your professionalism and respect for their losses are deeply appreciated!

    A special thank you to community leaders, the Mayor, DA Carr, Council Members Constant, Campos, Karla, the Fontana and Hosseini families, Dr. Bonita Carter Cox, Dan Hoffman, Bob Siple, Ed Rast, Jim Cogan, Denelle Fedor, Bobby Lopez, Chaplin Bridgen, and Randy for your support.

    A very special note to the cab drivers, thank you for sharing your stories, and for the beautiful gift you gave me. I will treasure it always. God bless you and keep you safe as you do a very difficult and dangerous job out their on our city streets!


  2. Joann Landers (joannlanders) on June 10th, 2009 @ 1:36 pm

    I had an invite to the event but I was unable to attend. I’m sorry to hear that things, as you said, got childish.

    Your reporting, ‘of the extras’, took nothing away from the victims.


  3. Matt Bruensteiner (thephoton) on June 10th, 2009 @ 2:07 pm

    Just to be clear, the "childish" debate is something going on in the media and online over the last few days. It wasn’t directly in evidence at the vigil.

    Its also clear to me that Kathleen organized this event out of true feelings for crime victims and true respect and gratitude for our emergency responders, and may not have been considering the ongoing political debate. The politicians and police and firefighters union representatives were also expressing themselves honestly. However I’m afraid that some of them, given their positions, also had one eye on the ongoing debate, and certainly saw a connection between that debate and the opportunity to publicly express their opinions at this moment.


  4. kathleenflynn on June 10th, 2009 @ 2:49 pm

    Matt,
    When you are ready to do a story on JUST victims of violent crime, let me know. I heard stories last night from so many members of the community that just tore my heart out. I’ve watched my friends suffer the loss of Vahid and it is a very difficult thing to watch.

    Sandy Fontana cried and was grateful that this vigil honored her son. She thanked me for remembering him. Remembering him as something other than a news story. That Matt was what this vigil was about for me, and even for the Police. I saw Sgt. Bobby Lopez break into tears as he talked about his fallen Police Officer friends. But I see no mention of him, or the Fontana family, or the poor cab driver who lost his friend in a shooting, or the pain of loss they spoke about.

    I would have had more respect for you had you chosen to do two separate stories but to lump them into one story feels like a disservice to those who needed this to be about their lost family members, and to me for my efforts in trying to put something together to honor those who are no longer with us.

    Any way, having said that, thanks for letting me say my peace. I appreciate it.



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