After listing the names of Fresno police officers who had been involved in shootings, then refusing to leave the podium after his allotted time was up, social activist Justice Medina was escorted by security out of the Fresno City Hall meeting on Thursday.
His next stop was Councilman Oliver Baines’ office.
The two had a discussion that was live-streamed on Medina’s Twitter account.
Medina, who organized last Saturday’s protest against police brutality, attended the council meeting to “start a conversation.” He wanted to know who will held accountable for various issues facing Fresno, including discolored water found in northeast Fresno homes.
Prior to speaking, Medina had left his seat to shake hands and introduce himself to the 20 or so residents who had come to talk about water problems.
Medina asked each council member if they stood with the community, asking them to respond with a “yes” or “no.” Council President Paul Caprioglio asked Medina to address questions to him, and Medina replied, “Then I’ll start with you.”
“I’m not going to answer your question,” Caprioglio answered. Medina then continued with the rest of the council, asking them the same question.
The other six each replied “yes.”
“Then who do we hold accountable?” Medina said.
He asked about policies set in place for officers who are “figures of police brutality.” He also asked if police Chief Jerry Dyer’s policing policy lined up with President Obama’s 21st-century policing policy.
He proceeded to recite a list of officers who had “committed shootings.” Medina wanted to know what needed to be put into place so that officers would “ask questions first and not shoot first.” He said he researched the officers’ names but would not provide the source.
“We’ve seen Dylan Noble’s video,” he told the council. “He stood there for at least 30 or 45 seconds. If he had a gun, and wanted to kill a police officer, he would have done it as soon as he got out of his car.”
Last year, The Fresno Bee reported on the number of officer-involved shootings and the excessive-force lawsuits that followed in Fresno since 2012.
Caprioglio tried to move on to the next speaker, saying Medina’s time was up.
But Medina did not sit down, turning instead to face the audience. He said the council doesn’t stand for them, and repeated the phrase, “Who’s holding them accountable?”
Medina was escorted out of the council chambers and into Baines’ office, where he sat with the councilman and his chief of staff, Gregory Barfield.
Barfield said the conversation was focused on getting to know Medina and allowing him to vent his frustrations.
“We just had a conversation, a very nice conversation with him,” Barfield said, about the “frustrations we all feel as men of color.”
The conversation in Baines’ office was streamed to Medina’s Twitter feed through the streaming app Periscope.
Baines, who served as a police officer in Fresno for 12 years, could be heard sharing his personal stories of frustration dealing with police in his youth.
He told Medina about how police officers used to pull him over every weekend while he was driving home from work. Baines said the officers did so for no other reason than because he was a “young black man.”
Baines tried to discuss last Saturday’s protest and what led to Medina’s citation following the protest. Medina was cited for violating city code when he encouraged protesters to block the streets during the march. At this point in the video, Medina stands up from the table and prepares to leave.
In an interview afterward, Medina said he felt like he wasn’t being listened to.
“I lost my temper,” he said. The video ends with Medina leaving Baines’ office, addressing the camera directly and repeating his earlier statements about keeping city leaders accountable.
Medina said, however, that he had “nothing but love” for Baines.
“He’s a powerful man, and I respect him. He has a powerful position, being a man of color in City Hall.”
For Medina, the next step is listening to the community that he represents. “I want to know what the people have to say.”