On behalf of the men and women of the Ceres Police Officers Association I, Brian Petersen, president, am writing this letter to inform the council, we as an association, have significant concerns with your decision made on August 10 regarding the enforcement action on street vendors.
The direction of the council to the city manager was to increase enforcement action taken; with fines and the disposal of personal property of the handful of street vendors in the city of Ceres. As an association we feel this action would be detrimental to the community we serve especially during a nationwide pandemic. There are struggling families in this community that need our help; they don’t need another hit to their pocketbook.
Our questions are simple and straight forward to the council: How far is the council willing to take these violations? Is the council aware these types of contacts can possibly cause a use of force issue when depriving someone of their rightful property and simply throwing it in the trash? Is the council aware of their due process guaranteed by the fifth and 14th amendments? The council, by making this decision, has become judge and jury. Just as the state of California has made it clear, the homeless have rights when it comes to their personal property, would it not only be prudent for that law to extend to these vendors. As is stands today we cannot destroy legal marijuana without a court order.
As an association we do not see an upside enforcing this decision you have made with the current climate with communities and the police. Right now, there are calls to defund the police across the nation. As an association we have made tremendous strides to connect with this community and would not want to erode the progress we have made.
If we take a moment to look back into the recent past (2014); there was a man named Eric Garner who was similarly soliciting people in New York City by selling individual cigarettes without the proper tax stamps. The outcome of that interaction was tragic and ultimately ended in his death.
As an association we are asking the City Council why now? Can the council honestly say every brick-and-mortar business is up-to-date and current with their license and inspections in Ceres? Are your plans to also target the brick-and-mortar businesses not in compliance and seize their property and simply throw it in the garbage?
As an association, we are simply requesting the direction given to the city manager to be reevaluated and tabled for a proper discussion. We agree in the rule of law however; we must also be aware of the spirit of those laws. Before taking sweeping action, we must make sure we are acting with compassion for those who will be directly affected by a lasting decision.
Ceres Police Officers Association