BC holds lecture on social justice and officer-involved shootings

Shawn Collins, Reporter

Professor Shawn Schwaller of Chico State University drew a sizable audience to Bakersfield College with a lecture discussing the issues of social injustice and officer-involved killings in Kern County. The crowd was a mix of both students and community members, and, while some students had initially planned to attend for extra credit, many had students were eager to attend a forum they felt would address certain sentiments brought during a lecture one week earlier by Professor Matthew Garret. Students like psychology major, Mikaela Kjenaas and Criminal Justice Major, Sean Lantz attended hoped to hear an unbiased and open-minded discussion. Other students, like MEChA President, Sabrina Franco and LUPE President, Eric Torrez, attended in support of the Latinx community.

“It important for us to represent and know what else is going on in our community, and to understand the positives and negatives this discussion,” said Franco.

Dr. Schwaller began his lecture by discussing fact officer-involved deaths are significantly higher in Kern county, compared to the rest of the country. He went on to propose that, while a large number of Kern County residents are members of the Latinx community, their cases have been underrepresented by the national media.

As examples, he presented the cases of David Silva, James De La Rosa, Francisco Serna. Each had been killed by Kern County police without having committed crimes. Schwaller argued that there should be more accountability for such crimes, but because race relations in America are viewed in “binary terms.” Schwaller believes cases of officer-involved shootings involving the Latinx don’t receive the same level of notoriety as other instances of police brutality.

Once the lecture came to end, the forum was opened up for questions. Audience members then offered instances when they personally witnessed injustices at the hands of local law enforcement.

Dr. Schwaller hopes that by presenting his finding at forums like Thursday’s lecture, he’ll be able to shed more light on the problem police brutality.