Months ago, when we booked DeRay Mckesson, a civil rights activist and a leader in the Black Lives Matter movement, to speak at Politifest, we knew he’d generate a lot of interest and that his work would resonate with people here in San Diego. But we had no idea that his words, and his cause, would hit so close to home, so soon after his appearance.

One thing DeRay said on Saturday during his Politifest keynote (which is online now, by the way!) stuck with me all week, as the shooting of Alfred Olango in El Cajon unfolded: When black men are killed by police, they’re often put on trial for their own deaths. Not in a court of law, but in the press and on social media, information starts to trickle out suggesting the victim had it coming. Trayvon had been known to smoke marijuana. Eric Garner and Mike Brown had committed small-time crimes on the day of their deaths. And sure enough, not long after Olango’s death, information started to surface that showed he did not have a spotless past. He’d had run-ins with the police in other states.

None of that information was relevant, nor did police know about it, when they shot him. They did know that his sister had conveyed in her 9-1-1 call that he was in distress and did not have a weapon. They did know that in the 50-plus minutes it took for officers to respond to the call, that he hadn’t hurt anyone.

Shootings like Olango’s are hard. They’re hard on the community, and they’re hard on police officers. But sometimes we make them even harder than they have to be.

When we talk about this incident, it should be to examine what went wrong and how we can prevent something similar from happening again. Whether or not the police were following protocol, or whether they legitimately felt threatened, a dead unarmed man is not an ideal outcome. And we won’t get to an ideal outcome in the future by suggesting that the dead somehow deserved what they got because they didn’t live a perfect, unblemished life.

What VOSD Learned This Week

On the El Cajon shooting, I analyzed the strange precedent set by San Diego law enforcement in releasing video of the incident as a response to violent protests. I also reviewed when police can legally kill, and how San Diego has responded to similar incidents over the years.

And on the podcast, Scott and Andy discussed the relatively small amount of information that initially came out following the shooting.


This week, Maya Srikrishnan had an explosive pair of stories out of Oceanside.

In one, she describes life at 415 Grant St. in Oceanside, an apartment complex where residents have long dealt with mold, electrical outages, sewage backups and violence. The city has also long known about these problem – yet hasn’t been able to do much about them.

One election in Oceanside has taken a strange turn: Though one of the candidates in the city treasurer’s race has died, at least one official thinks voters should choose him over his living opponent.


The Chargers hope voters pass Measure C, their measure to build a new stadium. But no matter the outcome, Chargers owner Dean Spanos is also treating the vote as a kind of loyalty test.

Most San Diegans are aware there’s a measure on the local ballot that seeks to build a new stadium. But many might not know that Prop. 51, a statewide school construction bond, could also build a lot of new stadiums up and down the state.

Then there’s Prop. 58, another statewide measure that seeks to knock down some hurdles to educating kids in more than one language. Mario Koran explains what Prop. 58 would do, and the demand in San Diego for dual-language learning.

Those are two laws that Californians might have in the future. In the Sacramento Report, I run down some of the many (many, many) new laws we’re definitely getting.


The week in iconic San Diego sports bros:

As the Chargers continue their quest to get other people to pay for a new stadium, I’ve heard many folks wonder: How did the Spanos family make all its money. Ry Rivard wondered, too. And he found out: It started with bolona sandwiches, and might have involved taking advantage of Mexican farmworkers.

Bill Walton is a lovable guy. But Kinsee Morlan looked into the San Diego International Airport’s decision to reject a gifted Bill Walton statue and found there’s a lot of sense behind it.

What I’m Reading

If you’ve ever had a tense, awkward, uncomfortable conversation about race, you’re not alone. (Code Switch)

A sweeping investigation shows that police often abuse their access to confidential databases – including to find and harass women. (Associated Press)

The historic congressional race that no one’s watching. (MTV)

How Russia is working to undermine the U.S. presidential election. (Time)

A big part of why I’m not a reporter is because I hate talking on the phone. (Slate)

It’s a shame that our fathers and mothers are dead and we can’t see them anymore.” (CNN)

Line of the Week

FACT: by age 18, all women have mastered this expression in response to braving the many temper tantrums of misogynistic, domineering men.

— Anne T. Donahue (@annetdonahue) September 27, 2016

Whatever your opinions on Hillary Clinton or the debate, this is objectively true.

Correction: An earlier version of this post misspelled Alfred Olango’s last name.

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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